Work of renowned journalist, college alumnus celebrated

Feb. 7, 2014

Lee Walburn ’59, award-winning journalist and LaGrange native,  returned to his alma mater Feb. 7 to mark the publication of his new book, “Just My Type, 50 Years Preserved in Ink,” a collection of favorite works from his five-decade career. Walburn was the guest of honor at a public reception and book signing at Lewis Library.

The writer is known for stories about everyday life, and many of those have LaGrange connections. The first column in the book is “The Mill is My Shepherd” about growing up in his hometown. 

In others, like “Chalk It Up to Experience” and “What I Discovered at Miss Berta’s School,” Walburn pays tribute to Troup County educators and coaches and their influence on his and others’ lives. He graduated from LaGrange High School in 1955 and from LaGrange College in 1959.

Although he’s a popular columnist for the daily newspaper in Rome, Ga., Walburn’s writing and editing chops are known throughout Georgia and beyond.  Under his 15-year leadership as editor-in-chief, Atlanta Magazine won more than 200 awards for excellence, more than 80 of them national awards. He was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National City and Regional Magazine Association and is a member of the Georgia Magazine Association Hall of Fame.

As a writer, he has won national, regional and state awards for magazine stories and columns.

Former classmate and lifelong friend Terry Kay ’59 said he had been encouraging Walburn to publish a book for a long time.

“It all begins with talent,” Kay said. “Lee's is God-given, but fine-tuned in a mill village where taking notice of things was an exercise in survival as well as a primer lesson in human behavior. He has always understood his writing was not about himself, but about the people and the events that became his subject matter.”

Kay, a member of the Georgia Writers' Hall of Fame and author of 14 books, attended the event.

Proceeds from Walburn’s book will benefit Cancer Navigators, a nonprofit that helps cancer patients in Northwest Georgia and their loved ones as they battle the disease. He said helping that cause was the only reason he finally decided to publish the book.

“At times small commercial presses have suggested publication of my writings covering the past 50 years,” he said. “I have resisted. Chances of commercial success are small, and I have arrived at an age when ego is overshadowed by more pressing matters.

“However, when Cancer Navigators Executive Director Charlotte Atkins zeroed in on the idea of this book as a fundraiser for a wonderful organization, I seized on the prospect of at last doing something worthwhile with my words.”

Walburn said it’s important to him that this retrospective book helps others facing cancer. It’s a challenge both he and his wife Jackie have faced.

“Just My Type” is the centerpiece of Cancer Navigators’ fundraising campaign. A minimum $25 donation to Cancer Navigators is the cost of the book.

For more information about the book, contact Atkins at catkins@cancernavigatorsga.org or call (706) 295-4119.

Copies are available on the nonprofit’s website www.cancernavigatorsga.org , and can be mailed priority mail for an additional $7.95 shipping and handling charge per book.

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