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A Tragic Weekend in Athens Steals Part of Community's Soul

Sunday, April 26, 2009 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 1:37 PM, under

This should have been a weekend of celebration here in Athens, Georgia.

The University of Georgia should have been celebrating the selection of former football players Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno in the first round of the NFL draft.

The city of Athens should have been celebrating the 30th Annual Twilight Criterium, a bicycle race unlike any other in the country.

Instead, we are mourning the loss of three people who contributed more to the community than any athlete has contributed, or will contribute, to the vibrant and cultural life of our small city. In an spike of anger that may never be totally understood, University of Georgia Marketing Professor George Zinkhan shot and killed his wife and two others before disappearing. In performing this selfish act he not only destroyed the life of his two young children, he has stolen the lives of three people who should not be forgotten.

Marie Bruce, Ben Teague, and Tom Tanner gave more to our community than can ever be repaid. They never sought the spotlight or to gain financially doing what they loved to do: community theater.

I met Ben when performing in Camelot back in the 1990's, and have met Marie in passing. I did not know Tom. But Athens is a small, tight-knit community in many ways, and many of my friends and colleagues were very close to these people.

So not only do I mourn the loss of these three souls, I mourn the deep loss that my friends and colleagues are dealing with at the present time.

That is much more important than who got selected in what round and by what team.

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