Did you feel that? A great, great man just left us.
Cactus Pryor passed away today.
For those of you outside of Austin, I will give you an inadequate description of this man who just was Austin to us. He was, on paper, a broadcasting pioneer. Every citizen of our bright, shining city on a hill has heard and loved his voice. He was in the movie The Green Berets, if that tells you anything about how cool he was. Any man that is good enough for the Duke is good enough for me.
But as I listened to him over the years, and now, for many years, as I've listened to his son, I heard what really made me love him the most. He was filled with both joy and wonder - the two things I love the most. His commentaries on Austin painted pictures for me of what is still considered the "real" Austin, but with this kindness, and humor and a profound appreciation for the new things that many in Austin don't share. Imagine an 88 year old teaching you the right way to absorb and be grateful for change. He was nothing if not graceful.
I don't mean to say he wasn't feisty - he did fight for the things that matter to our culture here in a way that demonstrated a soulful passion, not a ruthless one - like his fight to preserve the historic Lions Golf Course, because it was a course that was open to everyone, and that was important to him. That course played a major role in de-segregation in Austin, as strange as it may sound to have that start on a golf course.
But how I really know that he lived his life with joy and wonder and a sense of humor, and that all of that wasn't just for the radio, was because his son does the same. Every day, I tune in at 10 to hear the next generation of hilarious broadcasting Pryors, and I hear the same compassion, the same kindness, the same zany humor that Cactus was known for - in the voice of his son.
Is there anything nicer that you can say about a person than that they raised good hearted, joyful and funny children who followed in their footsteps?
As heartbroken as I am to say goodbye to Cactus, I'm glad he left us with living proof of just what a great man he was.
In Cactus' own words...
" Sometimes you just know what you are supposed to do. I really believe I was put on this earth to try to make people happy. After all, it’s what my daddy did."
Mission accomplished. My thoughts and prayers are with the Pryors and my city. Rest in peace, Cactus Pryor.