February 17, 2010 Edition

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Frankly speaking...

John Bland
Publisher

Robert P. Bush knew more firsthand history of First National Bank than anyone else living. Mr. Bush, who grew up in Alicia, was born March 5, 1919, the same month that First National Bank was established in Black Rock (March 10, 1919). He first went to work at the bank in 1939. His career was interrupted by his military service as a tail gunner stationed in Italy during World War II. His plane was shot down, and he was rescued by a passerby.

After the war, he returned to First National, where he would continue a career spanning some 47 years, probably the longest tenure of anyone with the bank. He worked his way up from teller to vice president and trust officer.

Mr. Bush often shared bank stories with Milton Smith, current bank president and third generation banker. Many of the stories involved Milton's grandfather, Robert H. Smith, who died when Milton was very young.

Mr. Bush's association with the bank did not stop after retirement. Having become a member of the bank's board of directors in 1963, he continued serving on that board until his death on Feb. 5 at age 90. He rarely missed a meeting and had been present as usual in January.

His association with First National was just one part of his life. He wed his wife, Evelyn, in 1946, and their marriage spanned 63 years. His marriage, children and grandchildren were a central part of his life.

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I am amazed at the amount of money being spent in Lawrence County on lottery tickets, some $349,000 during January. A percentage of that money is paid in winnings, while another percentage will go to fund scholarships. (See related story.)

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As usual, this year's Lawrence County Basketball Tournament was a week of exciting and hard-fought games. I think our county is unique in having five schools Black Rock, Hillcrest, Hoxie, Sloan-Hendrix and Walnut Ridge that bring competitive teams to the tournament each year. Which team will come out on top is often in doubt until the final buzzer sounds. (See the details in this week's special section.)

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If you missed Shantelle Prater's story on Carl Manus, printed Jan. 20, it is worth looking up in our online archives. Manus, a 1948 graduate of WRHS, is a resident of Sun Valley, Idaho. According to the Sun Valley Magazine, the 79-year-old "plays golf every morning, then goes fly fishing or mountain biking, or both, in the afternoon. In winter, the snowboarding junkie rarely misses a day on Baldy."

Tony Dowell of Florida, and a member of the WRHS Class of '54, told us about Carl. Tony said, "Carl Manus is the best almost-80 year-old athlete I have ever met. Several years ago the New York Times ran a story on snowboarding and guess who the featured instructor was? None other than Carl Manus, who was in his (early to mid) 70s at the time. He is living proof that a lot of physical activities can still be fun long after normal retirement age."

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