She was the director of Indigent Defense, an important position where she could make a tremendous difference in the lives of many. She did just that.
Her impact on others was recognized when she was presented two well-deserved, prestigious awards given by the Blue Ridge Bar Association. First was the Liberty Bell Award.
Earlier this week Whit Frost, in the Bench & Bar column in this newspaper, explained the criteria for earning it. “The Liberty Bell Award is given annually to a Cherokee County citizen who has displayed a commitment to civic service and who also has stimulated a sense of individual responsibility in the community.”
The Liberty Bell Award is the most prestigious award given by lawyers to a non-lawyer.
A few weeks ago Linda Hames was honored again by the Bar Association with the Colonel Robert Stubbs Distinguished Service Award.
It is a special recognition for someone, not a lawyer, who has done exemplary work within the legal community. To receive it is rare for it is not given every year.
Most of us know nothing about indigent defense. Sometimes we forget that in America everyone accused of a crime is innocent until proved guilty.
Proving yourself innocent sometimes involves more money than many have. As the director of Indigent Defense, Linda insured that those unable to pay for an attorney had one appointed for them.
Of course, that statement is greatly oversimplified. There are many other responsibilities of the office.
In talking about herself, Linda remembers that her father always taught PMA — Positive Mental Attitude. She practices that.
Another of her mantras is, “God will never give you the desire to do something that He does not give you the talent to go with it.” Both have served her well both personally and professionally.
She, her sister, Susan Abernathy Tippens, and their brother, Hugh Abernathy, were born into a Christian, musical family. Their father, nationally known Lee Roy Abernathy, was the best known gospel music singer, piano player, music teacher and composer Georgia ever produced.
Linda describes her mother, Louise Abernathy, as spiritual and giving. She was also a superb cook and liked entertaining guests. Rarely did they sit down for a meal when it was just the family at the table.
Across from the Abernathy home was Lee Roy Abernathy’s studio. Gospel music performers might stay with the family an entire week while studying voice and piano with her father and enjoying her mother’s cooking.
Lee Roy and Louise Abernathy also had a music store and studio in Marietta. Linda remembers it was very close to Johnny Reb’s restaurant.
Linda and Susan liked to go there to eat. Just children, they thought it was an elegant place.
Linda remembers once her dad was away performing for a year.
In Hawaii he was to open for the Oak Ridge Boys. That did not happen. Her dad performed as planned but since the Oak Ridge Boys had long hair they were not allowed on the stage.
He had the distinction of writing and performing one of the greatest gospel songs ever — “Everybody’s Going to Have a Wonderful Time Up There.” Recorded by Pat Boone and other artists, it sold more than five million records.
It was exciting being the daughter of someone recognized wherever the family went. Since his Homeland Quartet had a limousine, Mr. Abernathy drove the family to Florida in it for a vacation.
When Lee Roy Abernathy ran for governor, he traveled the state campaigning on a train. While he did not win the gubernatorial race, Linda loved the train rides.
Though her growing up years were glorious, her adult life has had its heartaches. Derek, her son, was killed in a traffic accident when he was a teenager. She still bears that hurt.
Then, much too early, she lost her husband, George Hames.
They had met when they were both on-air broadcasters at radio station WCHK. He was on the air early each day and her shift followed his. He would leave her love notes between the carts — the eight track tapes — they would play.
Life went on for Linda and their daughters, Lisa and Jill.
Lisa, following in her mother’s footsteps, works in Pre-Trial Services in Canton. Jill, a talented actress and singer, is now appearing in “Xanadu” at the Actors Express Theatre in Atlanta.
It is heart warming when low-profile people, working for the good of others and never seeking recognition, are honored.
Linda Hames is one of those deserving people.
Congratulations Linda. May you enjoy every day of your retirement.
Marguerite Cline is the former mayor of Waleska.