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Commentary: Williamson Countys tall steeples will be missed

Williamson County receives a great deal of attention for its abundance—whether that be the pastoral farms, rolling green hills, still waters of the Harpeth River or numerous historic landmarks that help tell the never ending story of Middle Tennessee.
But it is most definitely the people who live, work and worship here that set our community apart. In 2013, the county continued to grow—as has been projected every year for the past few decades—and longtime residents continued to talk among themselves about just how much the development landscape has changed. From Brentwood to Spring Hill, Fairview to Franklin and Nolensville to Thompson’s Station each city has encountered some sort of major addition or alteration. Even Cool Springs Galleria is readying for an expansion.
I think that is why it is more important than ever to pay a special tribute to those whose contributions—civic, social, artistic, entrepreneurial and spiritual— are going to be missed in 2014. With the passing of these tall steeples in our community, life in Williamson County has changed once again.
Each and every person who lost a friend or family member this past year has experienced a deep mourning this holiday season.  The Herald staff would like to mention a few folks who made such an impact that they will always be remembered and cherished in our hearts.
In January, the community lost a great leader and businessman in Ed Moody. A beloved World War II veteran who seemed to have an unflappable personality and endless optimism he witnessed monumental change in our community. But more than that he provided wisdom and leadership every step of the way. His footprint remains a part of this community through his business at Moody Tires, his leadership in Franklin Noon Rotary and his constant support of seeing healthcare advance in the county.
John Thome “Pete” Flaugher, who died nearly one year ago, was an anchor in the local banking industry in Williamson County for decades. His easy going personality and firm handshake made him a successful businessman and community leader. Mr. Flaugher, a Kentucky native, was also a veteran before starting his career at the Harpeth National Bank. His public service as a thoughtful and measured member of the Franklin Planning Commission will be remembered for years to come.
Brentwood’s own Mayor Joe Sweeney died this summer leaving longtime city employees and residents with a world of fond memories of this charismatic leader. He was the face of Brentwood to many as he served on the Brentwood City Commission for 38 years and was elected to the position of mayor by his peers more than any other mayor in the city’s history. His feisty Irish demeanor was a positive trait for Mayor Sweeney who never met a stranger and always welcomed a newcomer to the city with open arms.
Just a few months following Mayor Sweeney’s passing, Brentwood’s first head of law enforcement died. Howard Buttrey was one of the most beloved and respected men in Williamson County’s law enforcement community. He held the distinction of being the first police chief of Nashville’s newest suburban, bedroom community in the early 1970s. He led the city through its earliest growth in the 1980s taking a young department from a couple of police cars and a small staff to a highly-trained and respected law enforcement agency that has a reputation for trust and interlocal cooperation.
It was just before Christmas when two fantastic ladies, whose warmth and vitality made Main Street the personable place it is, passed away. Pat Hesson, every local banker’s favorite greeter and customer service representative, left a huge void among friends and family. Pat Hesson was one of those people who could enthusiastically support those projects that needed a cheerleader. 
Downtown Franklin was a brighter place because of Barbara Harlin. Mrs. Harlin was the quintessential Southern lady. She always made her customers — friends or strangers — feel welcome and important. When she opened The Registry with her dear friend Carla Myers, she introduced Franklin to a selection of fine gifts and china unmatched by prior Main Street retail establishments. As a longtime resident of Williamson County, Mrs. Harlin was a huge supporter of her community, especially Battle Ground Academy. Her heart was also close to the work of Vanderbilt’s Children’s Hospital.
As we begin 2014 and consider the challenges ahead, remember the friends and colleagues who provide you with the most positive energy and encouragement. It might be the simplicity of a smile or a handshake that is the memory that you cherish the most.
Pam Horne is the managing editor of the Williamson Herald. Email her at

Posted on: 1/3/2014


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