On Winton Blount III

Feb 9, 2015 by

My friend Winton Blount III died in Montgomery, AL this morning at the age of 70.

imageIn 1993, after working on the City Stages music festival in Birmingham, I interviewed with Winton the day after it ended in his Montgomery offices at the corner of the Boulevard and Vaughn Road. That week in Birmingham, I’d befriended Guy McCullough and the night before, he’d seen me with my golf cart piled high with coolers, hoses, extension cords and the like, trying to save equipment from walking off. When Winton and I finished talking, he said, “I want you to meet my creative political consultant,” and through the door walked Guy.

Those next 13 months of life changed me in many ways. From Guy’s influence, I bought my first laptop computer and got a PCMCIA card–a modem, that was sporting a whopping 14.4 mbps when connected to a phone line and CompuServe. Guy and I exchanged email in those days when we talked about things for the campaign.

Thanksgiving of 1993, we went on air with a 60-second commercial of Winton wanting to take back the state from the career politicians who had been at the trough of government for decades. At rallies, we even had a wooden trough on wheels that squeaked louder than anything so as to turn heads when it came down the hall.

Winton’s favorite Chik-Fil-A sandwich? One chik, no pic.

He had a driver, a former Montgomery police officer named Jim who drove around a van we traveled the state in. It even had a fax machine in it in those days. We drove from one end of the state to the other in those 13 months.

There were many days we were in the lead. Then former Gov. Fob James switched parties and entered the race. Then former state Sen. Ann Bedsole entered the race. (And just as Word did then, when you type Bedsole, it changes it to Bedsore.)

Winton came in third in the Republican primary in 1994. We lost.  The final weekend, Ann Bedsole went on TV with video of her picking up a grandchild. We had been ready to do a spot showing how in 197X Ann voted for a bill that would have allowed drug peddlers, child molesters and rapists to go home for the holidays for Christmas. We’d even looked into buying the rights to “I’ll be Home for Christmas.”  But Ann went soft, and negative, and it was too late to do anything about it.

We were ready election night to use Van Halen’s RIGHT NOW as a theme song to carry the campaign forward. The song still resonates in my mind. Of course, Chris Roberts at The Birmingham News was poised to also point out the song was from the album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, which if you take the first letters of each of the four words spells…..

I rode with Winton after the primary to some event he’d agreed to do in Dothan. Every time he saw one of his campaign signs along the road he cussed. I probably did, too.

He handed me off after his loss to work for Gov. Fob James’ campaign. I gave Gov. James my dedication while serving him, while a certain craphead woman in Birmingham accused me of being a Blount man in the heart of the James administration. Bitch. I was honest. I fought hard for my job. You still suck, Bettye.

In 1995, Winton got a number of Democrats to switch parties. He staged a rally on the steps of the Capitol and like I’d been taught to do, recorded the event. Winton gave a glowing endorsement of Fob. Afterward, I called Winton’s life-long friend and consultant, Lawrence Bear and told him what I had. That wound up being a commercial, a soft one, we ran at the end of a brutal runoff election between Fob and Winton in 1998.

There were those who wanted me to engage in rumor mongering about Winton during the 1998 campaign. I refused.

Winton and his then wife, Lucy, and I all were together again in late 1998 campaigning for Fob. It was nice to be around them. Lucy even featured me in a book she’d written about the campaign–it’s a rocky road, but there’s a rainbow in sight, was the title of the book. I still have my copy.

In 1999, Winton hired me to shoot video of the Blount Family reunion in Union Springs. I was nervous. I didn’t know how my presence would be taken. But alas, later in the evening, I was sitting in a building out back and Stuart, Winton’s only daughter, walked in and gave me the warmest of greetings, a hug, and made me feel like nothing had been changed by the previous four years. It was one of the most relieving events of my life.

It’s been since before 2001 when I left Alabama that I’ve talked to Winton. I won’t get into why. I reached out to him a couple of times in the years gone by but nothing in return happened.

Today, I’m told, he passed away in his sleep. Tonight, he will join our mutual friend, Lawrence Bear, and the former Mayor of Montgomery, Emory Folmar, no doubt in the Buck’s Pocket of Heaven. And Lordy what a party that shall be.

Lucy Dunn Blount once told me in 1993 that “Winton will be just as good a friend to you in 20 years as he is today.” That’s how I remember him. That laugh he had. The jokes he would tell–(Lord, for his opening interview with Phil Rawls of the AP in 1993, Winton told a joke about the Fugawee Indians and I almost fainted. If you don’t know it, a lone tribe of Indians used to wander the Great Plains and every once in a while they’d pop their heads up from the corn and look around and say, ‘Where the fugawee?!'” Phil was a deacon in his church….)

He didn’t die a rich man from the accounts I’m hearing. Not of earthly wealth, but I certainly admired him for what he tried to do to continue to make positive changes in Alabama and for that, to me, that makes him one of the richest people I could ever hope to know.  He will be missed and my heart is filled with sadness.

One last thought.  In the 1990s, Winton used to have the National Geographic map of the universe at the top of this post on his conference room wall. He called it his “It Just Doesn’t Matter” picture.  It shows where we are in the scheme of things in the universe. He said when people tried to get him down about life’s problems he referred to this picture because a problem compared to the immensity of the universe … It just really isn’t going to matter in the long run.  Such a great thought to keep in mind.

 

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When God Redefines The Possible Book for iPad on iBookstore

Jun 3, 2013 by

When God Redefines The Possible Book for iPad on iBookstore

JOHN ED MATHISON MINISTRY PUBLISHES INNOVATIVE, INTERACTIVE BOOK FOR IPAD DESIGNED TO EXPAND MINISTRY WORK WORLDWIDE

 ‘When God Redefines The Possible’ Now Available AT WGRTP.com

MONTGOMERY, AL—Former Senior Minister of Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church in Montgomery, John Ed Mathison, is making history again. This time, he’s teamed up with a former Alabama governor’s press secretary to release an innovative, interactive book exclusively for the iPad that will change how people around the world follow a daily devotional or use social media to hold “Sunday School classes worldwide.”

When God Redefines The Possible

When God Redefines The Possible, John Ed Mathison’s book for iPad.

Mathison recently released When God Redefines The Possible on Apple’s iBookstore, a title he published in paperback in November. The new work, complete with 22 videos, interactive puzzles, quizzes and Bible references can be used on the more than 100 million iPad and iPad mini devices in use around the world.

The book can be downloaded from the iBookstore by visiting WGRTP.com.

Production began in January with Claxton Creative, LLC of Dallas, led by Donald J. Claxton, former the former press secretary of Gov. Fob James and assistant press secretary to former Gov. Guy Hunt.

“We have taken a book printed in black and white and brought it to life with short video clips in multiple chapters that are designed to help readers prepare their minds for the text that follows by asking some important questions or giving some insight about what they’re about to read,” Mathison said. “With the rapid adoption of iPads in schools all across Montgomery and around the world, this is the new type of curriculum tool that readers young and old are finding more and more engaging and enriching in their study.

“It only makes sense to apply this same technology to something like a daily devotional where people can use these technological advances to draw closer to God and use social media to draw closer to other believers and non-believers around the world,” Mathison said.

Mathison’s book, which is 109-pages in print, expanded to 192 pages on the iPad and contains more than 50 chapters of colorful and important ministry lessons and encourages readers to see that God is still doing miracles, even in today’s turbulent times.

The videos, produced by another former aide to Gov. Hunt, Stacey Rimer Stakely, and shot at Frazer by Matthew Gamble, feature Mathison talking about healthy eating, God doing things in people’s lives they could not have anticipated, and even references to his late father, Si Mathison.

“John Ed Mathison has been a leader in ministry for almost 50 years and the exciting thing about this book for iPad is that it proves he’s still a leader in ministry even though he’s been retired from Frazer for a couple of years now,” Claxton said. “We have worked with him to produce a new tool that uses the latest in technology to help spread the word of God. That, in and of itself, is an example of God redefining the possible, as the technology for this didn’t even exist 17 months ago.”

Claxton said versions for readers using Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook are near completion as well.

“John Ed’s use of digital books will make his work available to anyone in the world with a computer, tablet or smartphone,” Claxton said.

John Ed, who served 36 years as Senior Minister of Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church in Montgomery, said he is excited to begin this new phase of his ministry.

“I have said before that ‘it is easy to have a Gutenberg mentality when we live in a Google reality.’ and taking converting my writings and teachings into a digital format so that people around the world can share and interact with each other through the social media tools and interactivity functions within the book is an example of where ministry must grow in order to reach those needing and yearning to hear the word of God,” Mathison said. “I’m excited for the potentials this brings for ministry. God really has redefined the possible.”

Claxton is no stranger to innovation and change. He was dubbed as the “foremost student iconoclast” in Dr. John Fair’s 1990 book about Auburn University at Montgomery’s first 20 years. In July 1994, he made candidate Fob James the first statewide candidate in Alabama to have a published email address. In March of 1995, he began writing the original pages for the state of Alabama’s website, which was launched and featured as the lead story in the Montgomery Advertiser in August 1995.  In 2001 he became the communications director for the Dallas Independent School District, then the 12th largest school district in the nation and helped pass the largest education bond program in Texas history—a $1.37 billion program. In 2012, his company began producing books for the iPad, including Dr. Mark Van Stone’s interactive text 2012: Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya and There’s A Zombie In My Treehouse by Ken Plume, John Robinson and Len Peralta of Atlanta. The company also has begun production on a book for Learning Forward, one of the largest professional development organizations in the world for schoolteachers.

Claxton Creative, LLC

Claxton Creative is a Dallas-based full-service public relations firm focused on the development of interactive, multi-touch publications for mobile devices worldwide.

John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries

The John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries was formed in 2008, as John Ed reached the mandatory retirement age of the United Methodist Church. The ministry is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. The mission of the ministry is to bring honor and glory to the Kingdom of God by training leaders for Kingdom work. John Ed actively speaks to churches, conferences and leadership training programs on a local, national and global scale. More information is available at www.JohnEdMathison.org.

 

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Digital Book Publisher Begins iPad Project With John Ed Mathison Ministry

Jan 24, 2013 by

 DALLAS DIGITAL BOOK PUBLISHER DESIGNING INTERACTIVE BOOKS FOR JOHN ED MATHISON MINISTRY IN MONTGOMERY, AL

Former Alabama Governor’s Press Secretary Teaming Up With Storied Frazer UMC Minister To Bring ‘When God Redefines The Possible’ Book To Life

CC Yellow Books Circle 60 by 60 TR 1MONTGOMERY, AL—Claxton Creative, LLC of Dallas, led by former the former press secretary of two former Alabama governors, Thursday announced it has begun producing digital book formats of Montgomery’s John Ed Mathison’s recently published print work, When God Redefines The Possible.

Mathison’s book, which is 109-pages in print, contains more than 50 chapters of colorful and important ministry lessons and encourages readers to see that God is still doing miracles, even in today’s turbulent times.

When God Redefines Possible by John Ed Mathison.

When God Redefines Possible by John Ed Mathison.

The digital format for iPad will include a series of videos, interactive photos and illustrations, end of chapter quizzes, puzzles, Internet social media components and other ways to help broaden the reach of one of the Southeast’s most recognized United Methodist Church leaders.

Versions also will be produced for readers using Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, as well as the Samsung Galaxy and Microsoft Surface.

“John Ed Mathison has been a recognized leader in ministry for nearly a half century and even today, he is on the cutting edge of using technology to help spread the word of God,” said Donald Claxton, owner of Claxton Creative in Dallas. “The use of digital books will make his work available to anyone in the world with a computer, tablet or smartphone. Now that’s really an example of God redefining possible.”

John Ed, who served 36 years as Senior Minister of Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church in Montgomery, said he is excited to begin this new phase of his ministry.

“I have said before that ‘it is easy to have a Gutenberg mentality when we live in a Google reality.’ and taking this next step, to convert my writings and teachings into a digital format so that people around the world can share and interact with each other through the social media tools and interactivity functions within the book is an example of where ministry must grow in order to reach those needing and yearning to hear the word of God,” Mathison said.  “I’m excited for the potentials this brings for ministry. God really is redefining the possible.”

Claxton said his firm, based in Dallas, is working to schedule a video production schedule with Mathison and to begin the digital design process for the book.  Release of the book is slated for March 2013.

Claxton is the former assistant press secretary to the late Alabama Gov. Guy Hunt and former press secretary for Gov. Fob James. He moved from Montgomery in 2001 to become the communications director for the Dallas Independent School District, then the 12th largest school district in the nation. In 2012, his company began producing books for the iPad, including Dr. Mark Van Stone’s interactive text 2012: Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya and There’s A Zombie In My Treehouse by Ken Plume, John Robinson and Len Peralta of Atlanta.

Claxton Creative, LLC

Claxton Creative is a Dallas-based full-service public relations firm focused on the development of interactive, multi-touch publications for mobile devices worldwide. The company was founded by former Dallas ISD communications director, Donald J. Claxton and is supported with the assistance of Fort Worth Author Ron Rose, Dallas author Will Manning, Birmingham, AL editor Larisa Lovelady, Ally Stephenson of Huntsville, AL, and others.

John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries

The John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries was formed in 2008, as John Ed reached the mandatory retirement age of the United Methodist Church. The ministry is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. The mission of the ministry is to bring honor and glory to the Kingdom of God by training leaders for Kingdom work. John Ed actively speaks to churches, conferences and leadership training programs on a local, national and global scale. More information is available at www.JohnEdMathison.org.

 

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