John Rainey and John Gore have each now crossed to the other side of life, the ritual we call death. In their lives, each man touched countless people in so many different ways. I had the privilege to work with both of them.
Gore passed away recently and it is a great loss to those who knew him and worked with him or for him. Rainey died in 2002 after a hard-fought battle with multiple myeloma, cancer of the bone marrow.
I met John Rainey when he worked at the Winnsboro News and I met John Gore when he was at KWNS radio in Winnsboro. I worked for Gore at the short-lived Winnsboro Tribune. Each man had a profound effect on my professional and personal life. Rainey was the complete news person. He was an award-winning writer, photographer and columnist. He was a proud Marine Korean Conflict veteran and an outspoken old school Democrat who had little patience with those he deemed rude or ignorant. And he did not mind spouting his opinions, and did ever have opinions!
Gore was a talented broadcaster in his own right, but I knew him more from an editor’s point of view. He taught me how to write a headline properly and make it more appealing for the story content. He was a meticulous editor, but he made my writing flow in a way it never had before. It was also the time in my life when my alcoholism was at its worst. He never wavered in his support of me, but never missed a time to rake me over the coals when needed.
Gore pressed me hard to get some help and he tried his best to lead me to at least attempt to sober up. It was not long after we parted ways I took his advice and sought the treatment which would lead to my recovery. He is one of the many people whom I credit for my sobriety and my life today.
Rainey became one of my closest friends in the 1990s when he started working at the Wood County Democrat. I left the paper to teach and coach in Dallas, but came back to Yantis and was able to write sports for the Democrat and spend some time again with John. He was the consummate news person. He was the best old crusty newspaper reporter a journalist could be. He became my journalistic mentor and taught me more about the business than I could have ever learned in a college journalism class.
It was Rainey who penned me a note while I was in recovery which I hold dear to me heart today. His note read, ”Larry, we all have snakes in our lives. You need to kill yours. See you soon, John.”
Rainy loved the music of Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Billy Joe Shaver, all favorites of mine. He made CDs to give away to others. He took pictures he spent hours developing in the dark room which he would give away. He recommended books by James Lee Burke, Ann Richards, Jim Hightower and Rick Waller which he would buy and give you.. He expected you to read those books and would quiz to make sure you did.
Rainey could be obstinate, insistent, ranting and raving. If you were his friend, he was loyal, and faithful. If he did not like you, believe me, you knew it. He was sometimes hard to please, but mainly hardest on himself. He demanded perfection from himself and expected others to do their best.
I took Rainey to the his doctor appointments and for his treatments until my move to Dallas in 2001. I am so glad I moved back in 2002 and was able to spend valuable time with him. He encouraged me to go back into to teaching even if he didn’t want me to go. He had challenged me to become the best teacher I possibly could.
He served as an editor and writer in places like Galveston and Houston. He knew politicians at every level. At his funeral in Garland, I gave the eulogy. I counted six state representatives and two state senators in the modest crowd at the Garland funeral service.
Rainey loved living. He loved writing, He loved truth. He loved being a journalist. He loved to come early and stay late. In a Rainey Day Notebook column he wrote in 2001 he said, “I began working at 13. These days all I have going for me is work. There is no need for sorrow or pity.”
Rainey once met poet Robert Frost. He knew Texas writer and historian, J. Frank Dobie, and he enjoyed good food and good wine. Rainey followed Frost advice and “took the road less traveled.”
I am a better man today because of two men named John. I miss them.