Hurtsboro: Town packs funerals at Methodist, Baptist churches

Photo: Funeral of John Carroll Williams

By Denise DuBois

The funerals for two men who were shot and killed in Hurtsboro took place last week to overflowing crowds – one at Hurtsboro United Methodist Church; the other at First Baptist Church.

“It was the most people I’ve ever seen in either church,” said 44-year Hurtsboro resident Ginny Torbert. Torbert was friend to both Donald Wayne Hughes and John Carroll Williams. Hughes’s funeral was March 10 and Williams’s funeral was March 16.

The town was shocked when a man walked into the City Grill, commonly called the Cafe, and opened fire, killing Hughes, the owner, and shooting three others.

Hughes’s mother opened the cafe in 1954. He took it over and greeted residents every morning with coffee and breakfast.

“It’s like his daughter said at the funeral, everyone has their own special memory of Donnie,” Torbert said. “Donnie was a favorite customer of mine when I worked at the bank in Hurtsboro. I took care of my people, and Donnie was no exception. He was a cut-up. He joked around with everyone. He was very involved in church and he was always there for everybody who needed something.”

The cafe saw people from all over the country as people gathered in Hurtsboro for field trials and hunting. While there is speculation, nothing formal has been said about what will happen to the City Grill.

Williams was the mayor of Hurtsboro from 1972 to 1984. He was an auctioneer and a cattleman by trade. He also sang.

“His voice would remind you of George Jones,” Torbert said. “He had a distinctive personality. There are a lot of distinctive personalities in Hurtsboro.”

Donna Moss, another resident of the community, said Williams, along with a few others, would gather at the cafe every morning and talk around the round table.

“If they could solve the world’s problems like they think they could, the world would be a much better place,” Moss said after the shooting.

Williams was the owner of John Williams Livestock, a retail business that sold walking horses all over the United States.

He was a member of First Baptist Church where he was a deacon and music director. He was also a member of the Lower Chattahoochee Valley Area Planning and Development Commission and served on the Board of Directors for the Hurtsboro School Foundation and Macon Academy.