Column: Progress, Columbia State and my grandfather go hand in hand – Columbia Daily Herald

Posted: November 17, 2021 at 1:20 pm

Elizabeth Kennedy Blackstone| The Daily Herald

Columbia State Community College will host an open house celebrating the $6.5M renovation of the John W. Finney Memorial Library Friday afternoon at 2.

My mothers father, John W. Finney, taught me to ride a horse before I could walk or so the family lore goes. He died (of a heart attack on a horse by the way…), far too soon after that in 1965 when I was four.I cant remember a lot except that he was quite loud, boisterous, gregarious, loving, friendlyall those things doubled. He had a big black car and a heavy foot on the accelerator; I loved riding with him.

He had a huge soft spot for young people (my brother and me happily included).He really did believe they are our future, and he channeled that into service on the state school board and a burning ambition to bring higher education to southern middle Tennessee.He used his editorial power at The Daily Herald and worked with other concerned citizens to make the dream a reality.Six months after his death, the Tennesseelegislature made Columbia the site of the states first community college.

Grandad spoke a lot about progress (I remember asking mother what progress meant because he said it a lot).

You cant stop it, and you would be a fool to get in its way, is how mother quoted him. He would be amazed and delighted at the enormous progress Columbia State has made over the years, at the countless lives that have been changed for the better, the new and exciting avenues explored, the Southern Tennessee Higher Education Center, and last but not least, the library that bears his name now taking the college into the 21st century with a complete redo embracing the digital age.

Now that's what I call PROGRESS! is what I think Granddad would say.

Elizabeth Kennedy Blackstone is a Columbia native.

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Column: Progress, Columbia State and my grandfather go hand in hand - Columbia Daily Herald

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