Thanks to Randy A. Jenkins of Detroit for sharing a poem about his mentor, Deacon Nathaniel "Shakie" Grant of Burton, who died May 15 at age 93.
"I enjoyed your article about Deacon Grant," Jenkins writes. "I was one of those children who worked in the fields with him and whom he helped. I wrote a poem in celebration of his life."
Jenkins was born and raised in Burton and worked after school and through the summer for a number of years for Grant, planting and harvesting cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, string beans, sweet potatoes and other vegetables. He helped with the hogs and with carpentry work at Grant's rental property.
Jenkins said he helped Grant convert his pickup into a covered "van" with handmade wooden benches in the back. Grant used it to help people get to work and church, and he took children to weekly choir practice. Jenkins went on to perform in the Concert Choir and Male Ensemble at Voorhees College after graduating in 1975 from Battery Creek High School.
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Jenkins holds a master's degree and has spent a career in social work. He said he started the Beaufort County Big Brothers Big Sisters program. He now has a consulting business and works around the country in social services administration and programming.
He said Deacon Grant, whose day job for 43 years was in civil service at U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, "was a social worker before any of us knew what it was. He kept us in line. He always had something to keep us moving and to keep us active."
Jenkins devoted a portionof his business website to art and poetry: www.willjenkartsdivision.com.
By Randy A. Jenkins
May 19, 2012
Saying goodbye, to someone I call friend
Who's been there for me, from beginning to end
Someone I've known, since I was 9 or 10
Who's been like a father, boss and a friend
You were my first boss, we toiled in the fields
And at the end of the week, we shared in all the yields
You taught me to use a hammer and other tools
And while we were working, you taught me the golden rules
I sat at your table, we shared many meals
Giving me the strength to work in the fields
I wanted to quit on so many days
Instead of my quitting, you gave me a raise
You cut off your truck, making it a transport van
So we could sit comfortably and not have to stand
To Sunday school, choir rehearsal or Baptist convention
You took us more places than I could ever mention
Fussing at us boys for tearing up your truck light
So we could kiss the girls without being in your sight
You never asked for a dollar for gas
Not even asking our parent, nor a hat you ever passed
You taught us so much, about what life was all about
How to live for the Lord, and not live for clout
And now that your life has come to an end
It is with real joy, I say goodbye to a friend