Like losing a family member

By Jason A. Smith


I never saw this one coming.

There are some things in life that I’ve grown to count on without thinking about them. He was one of them.

When I was growing up, I loved listening to country music on the radio. I guess I could relate to it more than other genres, even then. Looking back now, one reason for that was a certain morning disc jockey on the old Y106 radio station named Rhubarb Jones. His crazy antics on the air gave me a smile as I got ready for school each morning.

Many times, it seemed like Rhubarb didn’t have a serious bone in his body -- a sentiment people have used to describe me a time or two as well. I’m a goofball most of the time, and I know it.

At any rate, when I learned over the weekend that Rhubarb had passed away, it blindsided me just as I’m sure it did for a lot of his longtime listeners and fans. Truth be told, I’m still processing the news as of this writing. Though he hasn’t been on my radio in years, I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around the concept of a world without him in it.

Rhubarb was a bit of a phenomenon here in the Atlanta area. He was the kind of guy that people who grew up around here were familiar with, even if they weren’t country-music fans themselves. Part of that can probably be attributed to the various charitable endeavors he was involved with over the years. But just as much of it, I suspect, is due to how he treated everyone he encountered. He treated them like family.

By all accounts, he was also a man of faith, and he wasn’t afraid to show it in the course of his work – an increasing rarity in today’s world.

My own interaction with him, through the years, was minimal at best. I met him once when I was a kid. Years later, I corresponded with him after he was let go from the radio station. We didn’t know each other well, but he always made me feel like he was happy to hear from me. He will most certainly be missed, by me and countless others.

In the short time since his passing, I’ve been thinking a lot about Rhubarb. I’ve thought about the legacy he left behind, and the way I’d want people to remember me when I’m gone.

In his case, it’s more than just the funny jokes and stories he told on the radio, or the way he cut up with famous country singers on the radio along the way. It’s also the way he seemed to take a genuine interest in the lives of people whose names will likely never be known on a larger scale. He connected with people because he truly seemed to care about them. As a result, he truly made his mark.

As for me, I want to be known for more than just cracking jokes or being a bit goofy. Sure, I enjoy putting smiles on people’s faces, but I want to be remembered for more than that. I hope I’m able to connect with people the way Rhubarb did.

We’re all put on this earth for a reason. Ultimately, it’s to glorify God with our lives. I believe Rhubarb did that, whether on the radio or otherwise. I pray that, when I’m gone, people will be able to say the same of me.

Jason has worked in newspapers since 2005, spending the majority of that time in Henry County. He lives in Covington with his wife and daughter.