|Clarence Collie leans forward in his chair and wraps his infectious smile around a ham biscuit.
"No one is more blessed than me," he says with feeling, adding,
"God has His reasons for things and Heís looking out for me. Iíve got no complaints because I know Heís working His
Collie was born in LaGrange in Lenoir County, where he lived until moving to Wilson at the age of 21. Chasing the American dream, he worked as a nurse at the Sanitarium during the day and at a tobacco processing plant at night, acquiring along the way a wife, four children (one at the time, of course), a new three-bedroom home and a new Mercury Comet. As the job market changed, Collie worked at the highway patrol station, in the construction, paving, and tobacco processing industries, and as a self-employed home improvement specialist.
Along the way, Collie also was diagnosed with glaucoma and, although laser surgery seemed to stop its progress, there was concern that it would reappear. After a night of racing his super-stock Chevy Malibu at a local drag strip, Collie was relaxing with friends when his world turned black. The year was 1992, he was totally blind, and his life was changed forever.
Collie will tell you that his life was changed for the better, that you play the hand youíre holding, that you make the most of any situation, and that faith in God will see you through just fine, thank you. He attended the
Governor Morehead School for two years to learn to function in his new world and his confidence in himself and his abilities is evident. Youíll find him at his home
in Wilson, or at exercise classes at the YMCA, or at
Federation of the Blind meetings, or at the Wilson County support group for the blind meetings, or with his brothers and sisters at his beloved church. Wherever you catch up with him, youíll find a happy and secure man who relishes each new day for all itís worth and wears the smile to prove it.
When asked about DERRS, Collie replies without hesitation,
"Itís the best thing that ever happened to the blind. It puts me right up there with you. Itís amazing what people think I donít know that I do know, thanks to the service. I pray to God that radio doesnít ever leave me. If I leave here, that radioís going with me." Clarence Collie, a faithful DERRS listener and a man to look up to.
He was a young teen,
14 or 15 years old, when the baseball hit him in the
head. Charles Parker's life changed dramatically that
day. The diagnosis of a detached retina meant that he
would lose his sight gradually over the next six years.
Charles left public school to begin studying at The
Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh. He
learned his high school lessons. He also learned how
to cope with blindness, how to move around without sight and
how to live independently.
After graduating from The Morehead School, Charles
entered Campbell College in Buies Creek to study the social
sciences. He became a social worker with one
goal. "I want to help the blind become
self-sufficient," he said, "and learn how to deal
with life all over again."
Having recently retired from a career with the N.C.
Services for the Blind in Tarboro, Charles has done just
that, and more. He has been involved in life-skills
training and developing group activities, such as bowling
leagues and fishing tournaments.
"I do like to fish! And I'm staying pretty busy in retirement.
I finally have time to go to the fitness center and I do
that just for me."
Charles, a member of the board of directors, has been
involved with DERRS since it was only an idea waiting to
happen. "I had heard radio reading services in
other areas," he said, "and several of us wanted
to start one here. It was an exciting day when DERRS
actually went on the air. The local broadcast keeps me
in touch with my community and keeps me up to date."
Listeners Are Saying
"I have had some rough times. I can't believe
someone takes their time to read all the news to me and it
doesn't even cost me a cent. I'm so glad there are still
some mighty good folks in this world."
"Until I got my receiver, I never had the news from
the Wilson newspaper. People on my street would die
and I wouldn't find out until weeks later. What a
wonderful blessing the reading service is to my life."
"I never knew about such a service during all the
years I had my eyesight. Now that I can no longer
read, I am so grateful that someone cares enough to read to
"It's the best thing that ever happened to the
blind. It puts me right up there with you. It's
amazing what people think I don't know that I do know,
thanks to the service. I pray to God that radio
doesn't ever leave me. If I ever leave here, that
radio's going with me."
"It was an exciting day when DERRS actually went on
the air. The local broadcast keeps me in touch with my
community and keeps me up to date."
"This is the only thing that me and John do together
every day. We have us some coffee and listen to the
news and talk about all that's going on."
"It seems like I can't even remember when I didn't
have my radio with me. Now it's my best friend and
just about the only company I have. I don't know how I
could ever give it up."
"It seems like blind folks get left out of most
everything. It's a miracle that the radio reading service
does all this just for use and makes our lives so much
better. I thank God for y'all."