Today, we were saddened to learn about the passing of former Hattiesburg mayor G.D. Williamson. Mayor Williamson died shortly after noon.
If you ever encountered G.D. around town, you'd walk away knowing you had never met a nicer guy. I first met him during the campaign last year. I called him up, and he graciously invited me over to his apartment. We sat outside and talked Hattiesburg politics, as he asked me about my background and shared the stories of Hattiesburg. On a couple of occasions I went over to the McDonald's on Broadway early in the morning to visit with his coffee group. I heard from several folks around town that G.D. had put in a good word for me.
The day before the election, I went over to Ward's around 6:30 in the morning (McDonald's was going through renovations). He was there alone, waiting for the rest of his group to arrive. We talked for a few minutes, with me sharing my impressions of political life and running for office and him responding with his own stories. Before I left, I remember him looking me in the eye, assuring me I had run a good campaign and that he was pulling for me, and he knew I was going to win the next day. He never knew how much I needed to hear that encouragement. The campaign had been ugly the last couple of weeks, and I was feeling more unsure than ever. He bolstered my confidence for the last 24-hour push.
I wish there would have been more opportunities to hear his stories and the history of Hattiesburg. Mr. Williamson was someone who shaped the Hattiesburg of today, someone who should be held in the same esteem as the founding fathers of the city. But moreover, he should be remembered as a great man, as someone every person, especially those in public service, could learn a great deal from.