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Rock & Roll tribute to Kenny Green

By Mike Ruffin Editor’s note: This is the eulogy the Rev. Michael Ruffin, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Fitzgerald, gave at Ken Green’s memorial service Sunday, July 13 at New Life Baptist Church, Barnesville. I don’t remember exactly when I first got to know Kenny but I remember the circumstances. It was during the great dispersion that took place in the 1960s when Carter’s shut down its mill village and half the town had to move. Most of my family members who lived in the village took up residence on Greenwood Street, including my grandparents who moved into the house numbered 555, just two doors down from the house where Kenny’s family lived. Before too long Kenny and I and other neighborhood boys were playing baseball every chance we had in that big sloping yard between their house and the railroad track. We always hit downhill. So Kenny and I played baseball together. We collected baseball cards together. We also went to church together out at Midway Baptist Church. We were a few years apart in age and in school and so we didn’t hang out together there but some of you did. Indeed, we all had our own relationship with Kenny and I hope we’ll all remember and celebrate those relationships both today and from now on. Kenny loved his family ‘“ his children, his parents and his siblings. He loved his hometown. He loved his Lamar County Trojans. He loved his Atlanta Braves. He loved his Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. He loved his rock and roll. He loved his friends. I don’t always say this, but thank God for Facebook. Through FB Kenny got back in touch or stayed in touch with hundreds and hundreds of us. In a sense, Kenny’s FB presence was at the heart of a great community that wouldn’t exist without him. As I pondered how best to say what I wanted to say about Kenny, I thought about taking a poll: ‘Who’s your favorite friend on Facebook?’ We’d all have answered the same way. Or, ‘Who’s the Lamar County Trojans’ #1 fan?’ Again, 100% of the responses would have been the same. I also considered asking everyone to bring their milk jugs so we could ‘bring down the thunder’ ‘” but I decided that might be a little much. I thought about doing a John Wayne impersonation but I really don’t do that very well, pilgrim. So I decided to go in another direction because Kenny and I shared a love for good old rock and roll music. Some of you (happily) will get some of this, a few of you (sadly) will get little of this and a very select and blessed few of you (blessedly) will get all of this. Let me admit up front I don’t share Kenny’s love for the Foo Fighters so there’ll be none of that. It’s the best tribute I can give to Kenny. So here goes: Kenny, I want to remember you this way because I suspect we learned more from a three minute record than we ever learned in school. You’re not so vain you’ll think these words are about you ‘” but they are. You were born in a small town and you lived in a small town; you figured you’d probably die in that small town ‘” and you did. You were raised where mosquitoes grow big as airplanes, where the arenas fill and the blood is spilled and Trojans play the game. Maybe you never got no satisfaction but you understood when all was said and done it’s a family affair. Most of us have Georgia on our minds but your love for the Ramblin’ Wreck was so sincere we couldn’t hold it against you. I guess the closest you ever got to being like a rolling stone was when you were riding around on that Georgia Tech golf cart. The last time I saw you we both knew the night was cloudy and I prayed you’d listen to words of wisdom and let it be. It looked to me like the movement you needed was right on your shoulder. You may wonder if we’ll always love you but as long as there are stars above you, you’ll never need to doubt it, we’ll make you so sure about it. God only knows how we feel about you. We hope you know, too. When it came to Lamar County sports, you were the one who let us know what’s going on and for that you had our ongoing R-E-S-P-E-C-T. I guess we could imagine there’s no heaven but it’s really easier for us to imagine there is one and you’re there, whole and healthy and watching and waiting for us. We’ll just have to excuse you while you kiss the sky. Maybe you had to get out while you’re young; after all, tramps like us are born to run. When you were younger, so much younger than today, you never needed anybody’s help in any way. In the last few years, though, you had to say ‘Help! I need somebody!’ and people who loved you ‘” especially your parents (and what a magnifi cent job they did!) ‘” were there for you. For the rest of us, the answer is still blowin’ in the wind and we still need someone to gimme shelter but now, after a lot of days knocking on heaven’s door, you’ve gone on up the stairway to heaven. It was a long train running but you made it through because Jesus was just all right with you. We’ll have to take it minute by minute but we’ll think of you when we listen to the music. You showed us while we can’t always get what we want, if we’ll try sometimes, we just might find (like you) we get what we need. I guess you got to the point where the thrill was gone but we were selfish; we wanted you to not fade away but finally you had to go your own way. You might have wondered on June 27 if you left here tomorrow, would we still remember you? Yes, we will. We’ve cried a lot more than 96 tears over you but we smile when we think about how from now on you’ll be rockin’ in the free world. You had many a hard day’s night but you got through it with a little help from your friends, your family and the good Lord. It got to where the best we could hope for you was that you were comfortably numb, but now that you’ve made it we can’t wish you were here. I know early on you were a ramblin’ man but later you sometimes felt like you were tied to the whipping post and there was no way out. Now you’ve entered into eternity so for you there’s nothing but blue sky and you ain’t wasting time no more. I wish you could see what’s happening here. People, can you feel it? Love is everywhere. Why’d you have to leave us so soon? I can’t tell you why. We’re grateful for all the ways that, when it came to your hometown, your family, sports and friends you were able to take it to the limit. We hope and trust that now, since you’re already gone, you’re able to take it easy and experience a peaceful, easy feeling because when you get right down to it, it’s what happens in the long run that matters most. If we don’t love you and if we aren’t going to miss you, then grits ain’t groceries, eggs ain’t poultry and Mona Lisa was a man. Because we know it’s what you’d want, we’re going to keep on smilin’ through the rain and laughin’ at the pain. For we who remain, heaven’s waiting on down the tracks and Kenny’s saying to us, ‘Come take my hand; we’re riding out tonight to case the promised land. Oh-oh, Thunder Road, oh Thunder Road. It’s lying out there like a killer in the sun; hey, I know it’s late we can make it if we run. Oh, Thunder Road, sit tight, take hold ‘“Thunder Road!’ Thus ends the rock and roll tribute. Let me leave you with one more thought. Kenny’s days of leading us to bring down the thunder have ended. In days to come, when we hear the thunder, who knows but that the good Lord has given Kenny that job so every time we hear the thunder rumble

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