Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

May 10, 2012

Gary's World: County loses commissioner and friend

CROSSVILLE — Cumberland County lost a great man and county leader earlier this week with the passing of Clyde "Catfish" Cramer. Catfish, a name which he insisted everyone call him, has served as 9th District commissioner for the Cumberland County Commission since 2005.

Not only was he my representative on the county commission, but a friend. I will miss his presence and voice on the county commission. By covering county commission for the Crossville Chronicle I have gotten to know several county commissioners over the past 10 years. I first met Catfish when I started at the Crossville Chronicle full time in 1998. He would often come into the newspaper and chat with everyone who worked here, telling us stories and making us laugh.

His dedication to the Shriners organization was respectable and he was deeply involved with them back then.

He often would come in to bring us news releases about the volunteer work that was going on with the Shriners. That was an indication early on to me that he was a man who cared about other people and often put others before himself.

He became foreman of the Cumberland County Grand Jury in 1998 and Cumberland County Circuit Court Clerk Larry Sherrill told me he couldn't say enough good things about Catfish and what he was doing for the county. Catfish was also a Mason and demonstrated the values of honesty, integrity and consideration all the time.

Those who knew Catfish will not only remember him as a good man, but as a friend. I honestly don't know anyone who has ever said anything bad about Catfish. He's the kind of guy who once he met you, you were his friend and he would do anything to help you. I never heard him speak badly of anyone either.

There were many times that I have not necessarily agreed with Catfish on an issue facing the county, but I try to maintain my objectiveness as a reporter. However, there were many times after a meeting, or before a meeting, I would address him as a constituent in the 9th District and gave him my opinion. My wife would on occasion as well, especially when it came to topics involving the school system and education.

Even if he didn't agree with me, or my opinion, he still listened to me and took it seriously. I always respected him for that and for serving as a county commissioner, which is, at most times, a thankless job.

He was a teacher in Ohio before he retired and was involved in his community there and often told stories at county committee meetings about his experiences of the past. He always had an open mind and was a voice of reason when it came to discussions over problems facing the county.

Even after he became ill over the past year, he always asked me about my wife, who had also been ill, and my family. He was a kind-hearted man who devoted himself to helping others and his community, wherever he was.

I know I will miss him, his stories and his voice of reason at county commission meetings. I know all who knew him will miss him as well.

One thing I'm sorry about is that I didn't get the chance to tell Catfish how much I appreciated him and his service to our county and community — but then again, I have a feeling he probably knew how I felt. He did know I was a friend.

His wife, Linda, and son, Rees, will be in my thoughts and prayers.

• • •

Gary Nelson is a Crossville Chronicle staffwriter. His column is published each Friday. He may be reached at gnelson@crossville-chronicle.com.

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