Community impact players Ayers and Lofland leave feel-good legacies

April 2, 2024

Garland Ayers - Garland died last week, and we are selfishly sad because someone who openly loved all his friends is gone from our lives; he is universally missed. A big smile fronted Garland wherever he went, and he knew all about Cape sports without being an athlete. He knew we were all a little crazy, and he could focus on that and celebrate it. He worked for the City of Lewes for years. I remember seeing him driving a big loader on the beach parking lot, clearing sand after a storm. We both laughed that he was trusted with heavy machinery. He once wrote, “If you're white and break down in Belltown, just tell people you know Fredman and we'll take care of you.” It was a joke but also a serious compliment to me that I had earned respect and credibility in the Black community. He did that for his friends who were athletes. He knew of all their highlights and that made him happy. I told Susan of Garland's passing and she became instantly sad. "I can see him sitting in my class. Such a smile, and a warm and gentle personality." Muppets like Garland move among us; they are community impact people without ever realizing it. Many of us don't realize it either until they are gone. Somebody loves you just because you are you, then they are gone to where the good people go. Thank you, Garland, from all of us.

Bill Lofland - The first local person I met when I rolled into Lewes in the summer of 1975 was full-service Bill Lofland at the Mobil station on Savannah Road. A storyteller from the stoops of North Philly colliding with a top-shelf Sussex County yarn spinner. I learned to listen, to hold my own stories back and never question. “There's no way that’s true, Bill.” Bill died last week at the age of 84, but those stories remain in the memories of countless customers who knew Bill over so many years for five minutes at a time. Years ago after a Sussex Tech girls’ basketball game at Cape, I corralled the Fazio sisters Gabrielle and Leslie, saying, “Bill Lofland’s granddaughters – I need this photo.” I asked, “What is it like having Bill Lofland as a grandfather?” And they just smiled as if to say, “You know damn well what it's like.” I learned all about clay pigeons and trap shooting from Bill – he was one of the best in the state – and I once did a story at the Broadkill Sportsman’s Club. I was a stranger in a strange sport, but I was jazzed to learn all about my new place, Sussex County, and the characters who make it tick. Bill was a catcher (he looked like that guy) on the Lewes High baseball team that produced major league pitchers Chris Short and Johnny Morris. Lots of old-timers have John Morris and Chris Short stories, but none involved putting a sponge in a catcher's mitt to absorb the sting of a fastball. If you want to find a departed grandparent, just look into the eyes of their grandchildren. I not only see Bill, I can also hear the stories. There are Bill Lofland yarns best told standing by a gas pump, and they may sound like exaggerations, but the funny thing is they are mostly true. A town and community character gone but still here, always here. How lucky I have been to have shared a 49-year friendship. The storyteller and the yarn spinner – someone had to listen.

Bunny Palooza - On March 30, Holy Saturday, a 5K was held in Bethany Beach at which two state age-group records were set. Debra Issler, 69, of Milton ran 23:22, breaking the record of 23:34 set by Joann Szczepkowski in 2011. And Dianna Golden, 71, of Frankford ran 23:37, breaking the record of 25:00 set by Mary Kessler of Harbeson in 2023. I set a personal record taking 1,400 photos of a race that included 483 finishers and being the oldest person embedded in the race except for a 20-year-old mini doodle of 140 human years. See more race results in the Friday edition of the Cape Gazette.

Snippets - Three days of April showers will jeopardize baseball and softball games, while lacrosse is mostly played on turf fields in foul weather. The Cape boys will play LaSalle of Philly at 4 p.m., Wednesday, April 3, at Washington College. LaSalle is ranked No. 5 by Salesianum is No. 6, The Hill School No. 11 and Cape No. 14. The telecast of NCAA basketball games does regular cutaways to capture the facial expressions of parents of star players. Half the time they are not sitting together. Zach Edey of Purdue is a 7-foot-4-inch senior. He is Canadian, born in Toronto. He went to IMG Academy. His mom is 6-foot-3 and was born to Chinese immigrants in Toronto. His dad is a 5-foot-8-inch Canadian Caucasian, which brings out the Columbo component of inquiring minds. Go on now, git! 


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