'Boomer' brought people together
by W. Winston Skinner
Editor’s note: Times-Herald Assistant News Editor Winston Skinner was among those in Newnan who could call Danny “Boomer” Bishop a friend.
Danny “Boomer” Bishop brought people in Newnan together.
I suspect the visitation at McKoon Funeral Home today and the funeral at Newnan Presbyterian Church will bear that out. Boomer was one of those characters who gave Newnan its unique flavor. People from all walks of life knew him, liked him, looked forward to his jokes and stories.
It is hard for me to imagine that I will never again see him strolling around downtown Newnan or shopping at Kroger. I will miss his questions and stories, which often came as I walked to an interview, stood in the teller line at the bank or waited for my entree at a restaurant.
Boomer’s conversational style was like a machine gun with a drawl — short bursts of many words ending with an expectation of response. He often was remarking on the previous night’s competition — the particular sport mattered little — involving Newnan High’s athletes. Boomer always had an opinion on where the team was going, their strengths and weaknesses, but invariably with a positive slant that his beloved Cougars would ultimately triumph in any endeavor.
Boomer, who was born in Newnan on Nov. 30, 1946, died Monday at Avalon Health and Rehabilitation. Since he went there, I have been struck by the wide range of people who were keeping up with his progress on Facebook and putting him on their church prayer lists. More than once I ran into someone who had a report on a visit to see Boomer at Avalon — or who told me they were headed that way in the next day or so. I understand several longtime friends were with him when he died.
More than once, Boomer has been referred to as the town crier. For years, he made the rounds of businesses in the downtown area. He often had news about who was retiring, which stores was closing or what new emporium might be opening. When I have checked on Boomer’s reports, I have found he was mostly right on target — sometimes several days ahead of the official announcement.
One of the few times his prognostication failed was when he told me a Varsity was opening up at a particular spot on Bullsboro Drive. I decided that was wishful thinking — because the Varsity ranked as high as the Cougars and the Braves with Boomer.
Boomer was into sports in a big way. The Newnan Cougars, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Atlanta Braves were his passion. He knew about other teams but I understand he once rather abruptly turned down the gift of a jacket for another team.
He recently was honored by the Coweta Sports Hall of Fame. The Hall usually recognizes athletes, but they had the foresight to recognize Boomer as “Coweta County’s most loyal and dedicated sports fan.” I am grateful to Robert Stokely for making sure Boomer’s last two birthdays were extra special and spent with lots of people who cared about him.
There is something fitting about his passing at Avalon. I remember when his mother, Geraldine, and her mother shared a room there several years ago and the reports Boomer would give me about them.
I keep thinking about the ways Boomer connected people.
Betty Rogers, one of my favorite cousins and someone I have loved since I was a preschooler, is Boomer’s aunt. The captains of industry often took Boomer to sporting events in high style, but he had just as many friends among the folks who worked for those business leaders. High school students knew who he was, and so did their parents and grandparents.
Visitation will be today, Thursday, April 25, at McKoon’s from 6 to 8 p.m. The funeral is Friday at 4 p.m. Dr. Harry Barrow, Pastor Danny Wilson and Rev. Rick Duncan will be officiating. I know Harry and Danny well and Rick by reputation. My guess is all three have labored in their respective fields without a lot of contact, but all of them knew Boomer. Boomer, I imagine, saw in each of them a caring pastor’s heart and the personal integrity he expected and admired from people of faith.
Contributions in Danny Bishop’s memory are going to Relay For Life of Coweta County, 301 Kelly Drive, Suite 3, Peachtree City, GA 30269. Cancer was a scourge for him. He went through several phases of diagnosis and treatment. The last time I saw him was a couple of months ago.
My wife, Lynn, and I ran into him at Kroger. He asked for a ride, which let me know he did not feel well. As we went to the car, Lynn stopped and got Boomer to select his favorite variety of Girl Scout cookies from a table manned by the troop from Oak Lawn Baptist.
In the car, Boomer told us he hurt even though he was taking strong pain medication. “I don’t know why God lets me hurt like this,” he said. I told him I didn’t either, but I was sure that God loved him and was with him. Boomer agreed.
All of us who knew Boomer will miss him — enjoying a game at Drake Stadium, sharing the news on the Court Square, keeping a steady pace on the sidewalk between his home and the grocery store. Without him our town is more vanilla, more just-like-everywhere else.
Without Coweta’s most loyal and dedicated sports fan — without our town crier, we are less than we were.