Maybe it’s from being thirty years in close proximity to the Capitol? Maybe it’s from forty years of listening to stories while traveling most of Georgia’s backroads? Maybe it’s from the internal barometer of age? I am not sure, but frequently I find myself identifying important tidbits and admonishing others to “write that down!” Knowing how and why certain things happened as they did is a valuable contribution one generation can provide the next.
The “someone should write a book about that” challenge is easy to administer. Those who take up that mantle in service to others—past, present, and future—are heroes. The sorting and filtering required for such a cerebral voyage take time, likely produce as many tears as smiles, and most certainly become a ball and chain before the work is completed.
I am thankful for a number of friends who, through their keystrokes, have fed my mind and soul with their personal experiences. These accounts range from historical to hysterical. Great Georgians like The Honorable Larry Walker Sr., Editor Extraordinaire Dink NeSmith, and Harris Blackwood, the Grizzard of Our Time, know how to cram more of the Georgia Experience into one sentence than I could into an entire chapter. Emory Jones and Bobby Rowan also top the list. Recording treasured stories, circumstances, and facts through the skillful use of the English language—and yes, our dialect—is a gift for the ages.
In the following pages, my friend Jimmy Hill blesses us with another volume for our collective enjoyment. They Inspired Me takes the reader on a wonderful life journey ranging from very humble beginnings to the Olympic Games. Time and time again, the book demonstrates how the values of family love and support, a willingness to dream the impossible, and a tireless work ethic are still alive and well.
Jimmy credits his parents, his high school agriculture teacher Mr. B. H. Claxton, his beloved wife, Gail, and many others with inspiring him to greatness along the path of life. He has stepped up, yet again, to be the leader we all know and love, to be that “somebody should write a book about that” servant. Expect tugs at the heart, a number of “aha” moments,
and other forms of fuel for your personal benefit as you dive into this rewarding timeline of a life well spent.
Jimmy, thank you for your book. But you should know, my friend, many of us—and I seek to be first on that list—owe you a debt that we will never be able to repay. You have poured your life into us. You have inspired us. We are grateful for you beyond all measure. God bless you, and Gail, and all who read They Inspired Me.
“Only words live forever. What you are reading is a gift from Jimmy Hill to past, present, and future generations of his family and friends. His stories resonate for those of us who grew up shooting marbles in the same South Georgia sand. From the humble beginnings of a childhood—starting in a Gardi tar paper shack with a backyard privy—Jimmy is a testament that you can chase and achieve your dreams in America. I have always believed that there’s a book in every life. Jimmy proves that with They Inspired Me. Once I started reading his memoir, it was like a bag of hot boiled peanuts. I couldn’t put it down. Thank you, Jimmy. You inspired me, too.”
“From humble beginnings in a tar paper shack to a high-level management job at Georgia Power, Jimmy Hill has lived an extraordinary life. Now he’s captured it in a riveting autobiography, which is no easy feat. I know; I’ve tried! I had the pleasure of meeting Jimmy when we both worked for Georgia Power. I was a newbie to the company and dumbstruck to discover Georgia Power knew what agriculture was—much less that it had a department dedicated to making it better. Jimmy led those efforts, including the technology that enabled Georgia-grown Vidalia onions to become a year-round treat. Jimmy may have written this autobiography for his family, but it’s a fascinating story for anyone who loves a good tale about a South Georgia farm boy making the most of the life given to him by God. Along the way, you’ll read about the cousin who convinced Jimmy sucking out the insides of raw chicken eggs was a delicacy, the bow and arrow that rivaled the Red Ryder BB gun in “A Christmas Story,” two summers spent picking green beans for Green Giant, and his mama who created the Cadillac of dumplings. All in all, this is an intriguing story of a life well-lived by a man I’m honored to call my friend.”
Jimmy Hill’s book is so very much more than a narrative of his family’s history. It’s the story of Southern life as it truly existed not so long ago. This is a chronicle any American, especially those lucky enough to have been born Southerners, can hold dear. Read this once, and you’ll keep it around for the rest of your days.
“Jimmy Hill had a huge impact on my life, both personally and professionally. I was lucky to be selected for the Georgia Agri-Leaders program, where Jimmy helped us all become better versions of ourselves. This wonderful collection of memories gives even more people the opportunity to learn from his life.”
“Dad, I finished reading the book. I laughed, I cried, I learned some things about you ... I didn’t want to put it down. This book will be cherished now and for generations to come. I’ve always questioned why you keep all of those records. Now I get it! Thank you for writing your life story. You’ve inspired me to write mine!”
“Dad writes a great perspective covering our family, a slice of life from his career, and Georgia agriculture spanning decades. The latter alone is worth the read as he illustrates and bridges the gap from some early days of technological developments to their implementation. On a personal level, I learned a lot of new things and relearned others (I’ve never known someone to keep so many calendars/journals) that I had either forgotten or had always thought were different.”