#Godspeed in your journey, Matt

You may have seen my previous post about Matt Speed and his battle back to health. Long story short- Matt went to Heaven yesterday.

As you pray for Matt’s family, please also consider donating to their Gofundme:


Also- Matt loved life and he smiled a lot. I’m sure, if he was here, he’d remind us all to do the same.

Godspeed, Matt. You’ll be missed by many but we know that, through God’s Grace, we’ll see you again someday. All the Best.

Please consider praying for, and donating to, Matt Speed’s Covid recovery

#GodSpeed, Matt!

There are people, there are good people and then there are people who just become instant “longtime” friends. For me, Matt Speed is in the latter category… and I need my friend back.


Matt comes from a north Georgia family of just good people. His immediate family includes bankers, a Sheriff, entrepreneurs and, most importantly, a wife and three children who love him dearly.

A while back, Matt went all in on his dream business and started Custom Combat Trucks. He’s a man’s man and does what most of us “Type A-s” would love to do: build (and rebuild) really cool, beastly looking trucks. Like I said- instant friends, right?


Today, however, Matt is trying to rebuild something a little different- his own body. Covid has wreaked havoc on his lungs and he needs our help.

How can you help? Pray for Matt and his family. Next- Pretty simple- either go buy a Humvee from CCT (a stretch, I know but I thought I’d mentioned it), donate to help alleviate some of the family’s costs, share their Gofundme, or share this blog post. You truly never know who might see your social media effort and go all in with some help.

Also- let’s make #GodSpeed, Matt! Go viral. It’ll be a journey for the Speed family. Let’s show them that we’ll be with them the WHOLE way.

Come on, Matt. We have stuff to do! #Godspeed, Matt!

On Lindbergh, history and summertime

I’m reading Charles Lindbergh’s biography. In my line of work of flying airplanes it probably should be a requirement to read about him. He was a lot more than a lucky aviator who found his way to Paris. Much more.

When you study his life you see that, for him, everything prior to flying across the Atlantic by himself was preparation for that flight on May 20 and 21st of 1927. From a less than ideal upbringing where he grew up, to some degree, a loner, to flying night flights in the late 1920s for the US air mail, Lindbergh was “made for this“.

After he landed in the dark in Paris he quickly realized that his life would never be the same. Time and history quickly forgot that he came home from France and engaged in a 48 state tour advocating aviation. Time forgets that he then began touring Mexico, Latin America and even parts of South America. All in his Ryan aircraft which he crossed the Atlantic in. Time forgets these things but his fingerprints are all over the modern era of aviation.

He became acquainted with the Morrow family while in Mexico and, after a long distance courtship, ended up marrying Anne Morrow. The two of them set off on a life adventure which all but required Anne’s total commitment to Lindbergh‘s adventurous soul.

After designing and having his own aircraft built for the two of them, they toured the world, literally.

When Anne’s sister began to show signs of heart problems, Charles Lindbergh began working with a doctor at Princeton and together they designed a profusion pump which assisted in maintaining organs outside the human body. In short, it seemed, there was nothing Charles Lindbergh could not do.

In spite of his valiant efforts, the Lindbergh family was plagued by a media that followed them incessantly. The world thirsted for news of Charles and Anne Lindbergh and if there wasn’t a headline which was factual then the media would make something up. He came to despise the press so much so that, for a while, Charles Lindbergh, American Hero, quietly moved to England. It must have been an incredible time to be alive.

It seems that history quickly forgot many of the contributions Charles Lindbergh made. His childhood home in Minnesota is rarely visited and the home which he and Anne built in rural New Jersey is now a halfway home for wayward young men. Indeed, time marches on.

As I have pondered the contributions he made, and the many things now forgotten, I have been forced to slow down and realize that nothing lasts forever, not even the indelible marks we try to make on this world. The real things we leave, probably for a generation or two, are sweet memories and kind smiles. Reminding ourselves of that fact grows more important to me every day.

Harvesting the Laurel Springs honey

And thus we find ourselves here in Summertime 2021. If you pay attention to the modern day media which so forcefully chased the Lindbergh family back in their time, you would be led to believe that we are a country divided with leadership that tries and fails to unite our country back together.

In reality, it seems, the unity message only rings true for those who are willing to accept a rather diverse and liberal agenda. For me, I choose a more conservative path. So where does it leave the seemingly large part of the country that prefers respect, conservatism, the Grand Old Party and limited foul language? Some things are just better left unsaid, I’ve decided. Simple as that.

And, (my 12th grade English teacher would be very disappointed in me for beginning a paragraph and sentence with and) thus we revert back to what we can control, have an impact on and appreciate. That being the immediate world around us.

Simpler times, it seems, during The late 20s and 30s. Or was it? For some, maybe so. For others, not so much. So we move forward in life knowing that God is in control and His plan is perfect. There’s definitely solace in that.

The picture above? That’s the Farmhouse at Laurel Springs. We’ve been restoring it for several years and it’s almost finished, once again. When was it first built? Oddly enough- 1927. The year Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic, for the first time, on his solo flight.

Life is Good.

Commander W. Newby Kelt, 6 Oct. 1928 – 6 May 2021

The Newb

My cousin (who I called Uncle) Newby has gone to Heaven. He was as fine and memorable as he was kind. He was from “good stock” in Georgia and he packed a lot of life into his years of living. Today his family and the United States Navy are sending him home.

I grew up with an extremely colorful extended family. There was Aunt Al and Uncle Joe. Robert Newby always had a corvette. He took my cousin John and I for rides in it and made us promise never to tell our Moms how fast we went. He had a laugh you could hear for miles. Royce, Johnny and Will Pharr were all brothers and had smiles that you’d never forget. These are just a few of the personalities. And then there were the Kelts.

We didn’t know them as “the Kelts”, of course. They were Newby, Dottie, Patti and Marci. They always had atleast one dog with them. They were the epi-center of any family gathering. The stories and laughs couldn’t really start until “The Newb” showed up. He would usually announce his arrival, “It is I” he would say, as he walked in. His wife, Dottie, was always close beside or behind, smiling with her effervescent beauty all the way.

As The Newb and Dottie entertained, Patti and Marci were usually engaged in unpacking dogs, shotguns, perhaps a few beers or some other traveling requirements of the Kelt crowd. They knew the process. Shortly afterward, they would arrive with their inner and outer beauty taking over the room. As a kid, I would usually be dismissed shortly thereafter, as the crowd became more boisterous. This was usually how the Annual Newby Clan Opening Day Dove Shoot (or ANCODDS) would begin. Ah- family memories.

Legend has it that Newby played football, for a while, at the University of Georgia. As the story goes, he became acquainted with Wally Butts’ daughter and they dated for a while. Apparently he fell out of favor with the young lady and then Coach Butts, as well. He finished his college athletic career at Georgia on the wrestling team.

As a kid, I didn’t realize that Newby had flown in the Navy. I didn’t learn until later that he was one of the first RF-8 Crusader fighter pilots who found nuclear missiles on the island of Cuba. He never bragged about being awarded the Navy Distinguished Flying Cross for “single acts of heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight.” He didn’t need to, ofcourse. He lived the heroism and achievement every day.

The Newby I knew was all about family, big smiles and love (and maybe a Bloody Mary, as needed). He once told his Mom, in response to her question about how he would summarize the sermon on that particular Sunday, by stating: “It was about Love, Mom.” That has become a general summary over a Sunday lunch for my family ever since. “That was a great sermon about love!”

The Newb, his daughters Patti and Marci, and their families.

Over the last few days Marci and I have shared stories and pictures about our Dads. We’ve promised to reunite our family and tighten the bond, once again. I shared how my Dad thought hers had hung the moon. In return Marci shared similar kind words, asked us to come visit and promised that, when we do, we’d be sent home with atleast one chicken, goat or dog. I don’t doubt that.

Marci’s ‘49 Willy’s

W. Newby Kelt’s life was one well lived. He served proudly, loved kindly and lived boldly. He leaves a family who will miss him dearly and will also carry their Mom and Dad’s legacy proudly. Godspeed, fair winds and Calm seas, Commander.

Newby and his wife Dottie are being buried together at the Jacksonville National Cemetery. You can read Newby’s apropos “official” obituary here:


2/3/43… The date that will always roll off my tongue.

Today, for the first time in 78 years, February 3rd will come and go without my Dad celebrating his birthday here in this world. I know he’s celebrating, though, and not just today.

Licorice and daffodils. Two of his favorite things.

Dad was born in 1943, on February 3rd, in Marietta, Georgia. You can find a little more about him in a previous post, one that I wrote shortly after he went to Heaven last March.

It’s been a long year without him. My family has seen me cry plenty. I quickly figured out that it’s ok for them to see me cry. Of course on most occasions, I couldn’t help it. Sometimes the grief just comes in waves. Time has helped the healing, though.

I’ve gotten a lot of good advice about death over the last year. I’ve been given books, sayings and philosophies. I have had some good experience shared about how to manage this next chapter of life. One comment that I could relate to is that “A man doesn’t really grow up until his Dad passes away”. As cold as that sounds, that one seems to be a little more true every day.

The only thing I wish I had more of from my Dad was time. Time with him. Just a little. I’ve dreamt about it, literally. There’s some great comfort in knowing that’s the only thing I miss. After he was gone, I realized I didn’t want or need anything else from him other than a little more time. Other folks don’t, and apparently can’t, understand that. As it turns out, they wanted a lot more than just his time. For me, though, that’s the part about death and my Dad that I’m going to need to ask Jesus about, if St. Peter lets me through the gates. Why couldn’t we have just a little more time? That’s a tough one.

I regret my Dad leaving this world when he did. Maybe that sounds odd, maybe not, but I do. What I mean, though, is that my Dad was very young, relatively speaking. Not only in years but in spirit. Perhaps that’s why God called him home when he did. He’ll always be young. Forever. That’s how we’ll remember him. Young in spirit, young at heart. With a big mustache-highlighted smile.

I’ve lost count of the number of people who have told me stories about how he helped them. As time has passed, the stories haven’t slowed down, and it amazes me. I love hearing every single one. Some are new. Some aren’t. It has made me realize that I have a lot of work to do if I want to even get close to measuring up. He had a lifetime of service and love, and that’s how he’d want to be remembered.

Feb 3, 2020. I sure do wish I had combed my hair!

So Happy Birthday, Pop Jim. It seems like just a few minutes ago we celebrated your 77th. We talked about birthdays and family and life. This year we’ll still have some cake and ice cream for you. Sure do wish you were here to have some too. I know you’re celebrating where you are, though. I’m sure it’s joyous. Every day, and not just today.

As you always told me, “Have some fun”. Please tell Jesus we said hello, and all of those other wonderful people we’re missing, too. I still Miss you… a lot.

I think Covid-19 will make us stronger… in more ways than one.

Before I share my opinion on this highly political and sometimes controversial topic- allow me to try to diffuse the most heartbreaking: this virus has caused deaths. For those who have experienced this with family or close friends, please accept my condolences. I’ve experienced losing a loved one recently and it hurts. My thoughts aren’t meant to take away from that.

On the larger scale, however, I’m beginning to believe that this virus will ultimately make us all better, if we let it.

First- a personal note- I had “the virus” back in August. it was more of a head battle than a heart, lung or any other organ battle. By that I mean when I received the impersonal text that I had tested positive, I almost immediately began to feel like my breathing had become constricted. “Is this it”, I thought? As it turned out, the flu I had at Christmas of last year was exponentially worse than the -19 turned out to be. The one thing that helped the most, it seemed, was rest, rest, rest.

Jump to Sunday, 22 November, and I’d like to share that last week I had a sinus infection. I went to see the experts at ExpressCare in Cornelia and they confirmed that it was “probably” a virus- induced sinus infection (not covid-19) and the best I could do was minimize the symptoms and ride it out, hopefully for 5-7 days. Understood, I thought, I’ve heard that before.

As I’ve gotten “older” (I don’t think 54 is THAT old) I have noticed that sinus infections have taken longer to recover from. For me, they have typically started as a tickle in the throat, progressed to my sinuses and ended up in my chest. Typically my experience has been two weeks, and sometimes longer, for a complete recovery.

But… in what seems to be a post covid-19 (for me) recovery miracle, I’m typing this post, 5 days after my trip to ExpressCare, while riding on the stationary bicycle at the gym! I actually read a post in the New York Times (not often that I quote the NYT) that after recovering from the virus, immune systems may become smarter and more immune to Covid-19, as well as other maladies rather than less. You can read the article here.

So… I’m no scientist, but that’s my personal experience. I think hope it’s symbolic, too! I truly believe that we CAN benefit from the experience of this covid-19 experience. I believe everything happens for a reason, even this. How we handle it from here is up to us. Let’s make the most of every day and get stronger as a result!

Instead of flowers…

Our family has been truly overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, kind remarks and heart warming stories in the loss of my Dad. We knew he covered a lot of territory. Apparently we really didn’t have any idea. Thank you all for sharing your love for him and for us. Thank you for also sharing the many stories about him. Please keep them coming!

We’re finalizing arrangements for my Dad’s funeral. Unfortunately the ceremony will consist of only a graveside service. Immediate family will only be able to attend. We’ll plan a more appreciate Memorial at a later date when the situation allows.

The graveside ceremony is scheduled for this Thursday at 1 o’clock. We’re working on a way to live stream the ceremony, as well. I’ll send a link as soon as we finalize a way to live stream the ceremony.

Like many other projects Dad was involved in, Dad had begun helping revitalize the Demorest Woman’s Club. He had helped Re-authorize a tax exempt status, among many other things.

The Demorest Woman’s Club building is also in need of revitalization. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and needs attention. He would have loved the thought of a community coming together to help restore the building itself.

Here is a link to a GofundMe page that my Brother-in-Law just created.

Demorest Woman’s Club GofundMe

Any donation you can make will be tax deductible and this, I know, would have made him very happy. If you would also take a second to share the GofundMe page with friends and family and ask them to donate, too, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you again for your love and kindness. We know that God is good and that Dad is resting easy in the presence of Jesus.

I’ll miss him, a lot.

James Newby Butterworth
Feb 3rd, 1943- Mar 28th, 2020

My Dad went to heaven today. He has been my compass to navigate life with. I always turned to him first for advice and, I suppose, I always thought he’d be available when I needed him. Apparently Jesus needed him in Heaven a little more.

He was only 77.

James Newby Butterworth was born in 1943 in Marietta, Georgia. He grew up in a loving family, had an older brother that he admired greatly, and lived life to the fullest. He will be remembered for being a Renaissance Man and every bit a “throwback” to a time when right was just right and wrong wasn’t debated but simply known to be wrong. In many ways, he couldn’t understand American Society in 2020.

Most people will remember him wearing a suit. A good suit was his shield and sword. You would rarely see him without his shirt tucked in. He had short pants but they were for the beach. He worked out in khakis. He was a true believer of the saying “When you work, work hard but when you play, play hard, too”.

If I ever wanted to brag about my family (which I do a lot), he was my go to. He always responded with the meaningful and kind comments you’d expect from a proud Daddy and grandfather.

It wasn’t unusual for Dad to take off, at a moments notice, with his wife Rhonda, for a long weekend at the beach. They would eagerly go to a South Carolina shag dance beach club called Fat Harold’s. He wore t-shirts from Fat Harold’s proudly.

If you needed a recommendation on a good book, he’d have one. He preferred paperback. I bought him a kindle but he still liked paper, he said. Music choices? Vast but never complicated. Cars? Yes, he has quite a few, from his precious 1951 Chevy pickup, a 1960 Willy’s Overland Wagon, to a hot rod Chevy Deluxe, just to name a few. He preferred his old Woody station wagon, though. It has stickers from Fat Harold’s on the back. He claimed the car has a corvette engine in it. He definitely drove it like it did.

My Dad’s “Hideout”

He always mailed a card on my birthday. His Momma taught him to do that and he would never have wanted to disappoint her.

At Christmas time he bought dozens of caramel cakes from Cecilia’s Bakery in Athens. He’d stack them three deep on layers of styrofoam in the back of the station wagon. He’d then drive all over north Georgia making deliveries. He loved doing it.

He and I talked a lot. Daily via text and on the phone as much as we could. We both stayed busier than we should have but we would regularly take an intentional time out for lunch or maybe a quick 9 holes of golf. He preferred 9 holes. 18 just took too long, he said.

He put a pool in behind his house many years ago. Occasionally he liked to skinny dip in it and advised me that I should always call before I just showed up. He told the story of one particular dip in the pool when, in the midst of swimming a few laps, his lawn keeper showed up. He finished his laps, climbed out of the pool in his birthday suit, and waved at the lawn guy as he cruised back into the house. He laughed about that story a lot.

My Dad was a fairly private person. He kept his heart challenges to a limited few for over a year. The issue with his heart was a thing called “”Afib”. You can google it. He knew everything a person could know about it, but he didn’t want to talk about it. It happened occasionally and he had come to know what to do to correct it. Except this time, I suppose. It truly frustrated him that it would occur. He had a lot of people to see and too many things to do. He just didn’t have time for an irregular heartbeat.

In my Dad’s passing, my family, and this world, has lost a Lion. He was fair but opinionated. He was impartial but educated. When you disagreed with him you always came away wondering why you had chosen the wrong side. He was what this world needed and, as cliche as it sounds, this world is worse off without him.

The one thing that Dad came to love and protect more than anything was family. He and my Mom divorced many years ago. My parents didn’t talk much in his latter years but he’d ask me about my Mom every now and then. I know he still loved her, in spite of what happened between them. My Dad couldn’t “unlove” anyone. It just wasn’t in his chemistry. As my Mom said yesterday, “we spent a lot of life together and we raised two amazing kids.” Yes ma’am, I agree.

Family was critically important to my Dad. He loved his grandchildren immensely and never missed an opportunity to make an impact on their lives or give them a word of advice. We will all miss that advice dearly.

So, like many others have said, love on your family. You don’t know when a goodbye will be the last. I’ve read and heard those words many times before but they now mean so much more to me today. I’ve turned around more than once in the last few days, expecting my Dad to be standing beside me, asking me, “How you doin’ Ol Boy?” I wasn’t ready for this, but my Dad was. As I told someone else- he didn’t want to go, but he was always ready, just in case.

To that end- I don’t question God’s timing. It’s always perfect. I know Dad is teaching some dance lessons in heaven and Jesus also has a really good Judge, Advocate and Mediator, just in case he needs some backup.

I love you, Dad. We’ll miss you. Every day. And by the way, we’ll be at the beach this summer. I think we’ll stay two weeks this year, just like we’ve talked about doing for way too long. I have a lot of wonderful memories I need to help create, just like you did. Love you. I miss you already. A lot.