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August 10, 2011 / Gaston Today Magazine

Dwight Frady: The Voice of the Little Man


Dwight Frady

Dwight Frady:

BY: Darryl Warren

The death of Dwight Frady will surely bring out a groundswell of emotion from everyone who grew up in Gaston County.  For those lucky enough to have known him, his death leaves a void that can never be filled.  Before the internet, before cell phones, dot.coms, and laptops, Dwight wrote stories about the things that were important in life.  He wrote about our community, its everyday people, and what it means to be from North Carolina’s heartland.  He did it not for money or fame.  He was offered those things many times by large newspapers, yet never left the home he so loved, Gaston County.  He chose to stay with “his people,” and write stories about, for lack of a better term, “the little man.”

In 1980, I moved to Myrtle Beach, SC and, on a crazy, delusional whim, decided to set the Guinness World record for “Water-Sliding“for 100 hours.  After setting the record, Dwight was the first person to call and congratulate me.  We spoke for over an hour, chatting about God, family, sports, our community, and South Point High’s perfect 16-0 1980 state championship.  I shared with him how proud setting the world record made me feel.  As a kid, I was a little man.  I was small, geeky, and not very good at sports, yet Dwight’s call made me realize how important this accomplishment really was.  Thought yellowed and wrinkled, the article that made the front page of the Belmont Banner  is stuck inside my Bible, giving me comfort and encouragement when I feel alone and a failure.  It reminds me that I can accomplish anything if I set my mind to it.

I saw Dwight a few months ago.  He was frail and his memory was fading.  I had not seen him in thirty years, yet as I knelt down beside his wheelchair to introduce myself, he said, “Hey aren’t you Jimmy and Shirley’s son?  Didn’t you slide down a slide or something?” His body had long ago failed him, yet his mind was sharp, and I saw how happy he was to see a familiar face.  I gave him a copy of my magazine, and the book I wrote a few years ago.  I told him that he is the reason I became a writer.

During our visit, we spoke about God, family, sports, community, and South Points perfect 16-0 1980 State Championship.  We spoke about the important things in life.

Dwight Frady set the bar for local journalism.  He is the reason I continue to write stories about the “little man.”  Dwight taught me that a good story is rarely about the famous.  A good story is usually about the little man.

As I continue my quest to develop a local magazine about the GOOD things in Gaston County, I take measure in the fact that, though I have little of his skill or talent, I understand what it means to be the little man.  His writing style can’t be duplicated, but it can be a blueprint for those of us who still believe in the “little man.”

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