It’s a tribute to a man who made it his avocation to promote the city he loved, and to keeping that idea alive.
The late Joe Duck made it a habit to tell people all the good things he knew about Sylacauga. In his memory, some of his friends are taking up his mantle to do likewise — the mantle, in this case, will be caps and golf shirts.
Duck didn’t always live in Sylacauga, but he became one of the best ambassadors the city ever had. He married Betty Craddock of Sylacauga, his wife of more than 60 years, and joined his father at his jewelry store in the city after the war.
In later years, he is fondly remembered sitting on a bench in front of his store on Broadway, greeting passersbys and sharing the good news of Sylacauga.
One of the JDS founders met him there, a Florida hurricane evacuee looking for a place to live away from the coast. Duck told her all about Sylacauga, and that settled it. She bought a house and made the city her home, too.
He knew how to meet people, and he was elected president of student body at Bessemer High School where he was also on the track team and in the band.
He met aviation hero Charles Lindberg at an air show near Birmingham. That kindled a love for flying which led to training as a Navy fighter pilot during WWII. He remained in the reserves, and was commander of the Sylacauga Civil Air Patrol.
He owned and operated his jewelry store for 53 years. He was a charter member of the Sylacauga Kiwanis Club, and had a record of 57 years and four months of perfect attendance, one of the longest perfect attendance streaks in the history of Kiwanis International.
He was appointed four times as chairman of the Talladega County Voter Registers, and also used that position as a way to meet people and talk about good things in Sylacauga.
The Joe Duck Society is a great way to celebrate his legacy as a man who loved his city, and to keep a positive focus on city itself.
He was a member of American Legion Post 45 for 49 years, the longest membership of any member of the post. Ironically, he died in a traffic accident on his way to the Post’s observance of Veterans Day last year, at 90 years of age.
Anyone can join. Caps and golf shirts are for sale at the Chamber of Commerce, and there’s a Facebook page for the group.
But even if you don’t join the JDS or buy a cap, even if you didn’t know Joe Duck, you can still celebrate his spirit. Think about the good things in your town. Stop for a minute to picture your friends and neighbors — people who have helped you — people you have helped. Think about the things others have done to make your town a better place to live. Then tell someone about it.
It’s a great place to live.