By Larry Watson
My friendship with Dewey dates back more than 60 years when the state of Mississippi began to consolidate its hundreds of small schools that were scattered around various rural communities throughout Copiah County. My community lay about 5 to 6 miles east of Hazlehurst (MS), and Dewey’s community lay about an equal distance to the west of the same town. Like many other young people, we were brought together and made new friendships and encountered many new ideas. From at least the 6th grade onward, Dewey and I often sat near each other in class. Dewey was not necessarily a talkative person. He was extremely good in math and the sciences. He could be somewhat quiet, but when he opened up, you got an engaging conversation. Among his many talents was that he was a superb musician. He played more than one instrument and he wrote sheet music. He was an outdoors person, too. He was a Boy Scout and loved to fish! He was always looking for a good fishing hole.
Our friendship was gelled by the time we both reached high school and we remained good friends for the rest of his life. I have many rich memories of our friendship.
Dewey lived with his Aunt TJ. (And we all called her that.) She seemed senior to our young minds, but she was an extremely loving person and loved Dewey and his friends (of which I was one). Back then, few of my schoolmates had cars. We tended to rely on members of our group who had access to cars to provide rides for us. And Dewey had access to Aunt TJ’s car. He often drove all the way across town and out to my house to pick me up and take me to visit my girlfriend – my future wife. Over the years, when we talked, he would remind me that he was responsible for my marriage. He never forgot to tell me that. When my date night was over, and it ended really early (8:30PM)! Dewey picked me up and took me back home and then drove himself back to Aunt TJ’s house. On some occasions, he simply took me home with him. After a hearty breakfast, he would take me home the next day.
As I said earlier, Dewey loved to fish! When we graduated from high school, Dewey, myself, and two schoolmates (Dwight and Duck) camped on a local pond and for several days we fished and swim. We were barely 2 days out of high school at the time. We often reminisced about that adventure.
One of his patients, my youngest brother, always called me after his visit to Dewey’s office. He never failed to send me and my family well wishes.
Over the years, Dewey and I remained in regular contact. When he was in Optometry school in Birmingham and I was in graduate school in South Carolina, Ingrid and I would stop over for a short visit before we continued. We tracked each other’s careers and movements from place to place. But, one thing was always for certain, our birthdays – Dewey’s was in April and mine was in March. We rarely failed to acknowledge them.
Dewey’s passing has created a deep void in my life, my family’s life, his classmates, and his myriad of friends.