A.J. Bannister, Richard "Ox" Oxford, Doyal Williams, Eric Clemmens, Milton Griffin and James Roberts. Names that many of you have never heard, and many wish they had never known them. Names of men who have given their lives on Missouri's Death Row. Names I knew and appreciated. Men I called friend. I watched their lives unfold for a small time and even shared that time with them.
And then Suddenly they were gone. Their laughter no longer heard, their smiles and frowns no longer seen. Day to day as life continues on. You look for their faces in all the familiar places you've seen them before and then you remember that they are no longer there. Across a room, you see a face or a head that looks familiar, you start to call out, and then you remember that the person you are looking for is no longer able to be there for you to find.
Many years ago, A dear friend told me that he often saw "Ghosts". For years I forgot what he had said, until I met the men on Death Row. Know I know what my friend meant when he said that he was always seeing "Ghosts".
No matter how long I live, I will remember those who became my friends; A.J. Bannisters quiet ways, His willingness to share whatever he was doing. Doyal Williams, One who was always willing to help someone poorer than he with Legal work or answer your questions. Richard Oxford or "Ox" as we all called him, he was the clown who always made us laugh and showed us the brighter side of life. Always the Optimist except when he was alone where he fought his own personal demons. James Roberts, We all called him "Hog" Because of his insatiable appetite. He was gruff to everyone but his friends, to those he was a good listener and a understanding soul. Milton Griffin, A friend who introduced me to Nintendo, may that be a bad thing or a good thing, Many hours spent laughing at ourselves and the mistakes we made. Eric Clemmens, The rebel, who was always fighting against this or that. Never content with the day until he had made some type of accomplishment.
To Most, these names won't mean anything. To some these names will conjure sorrow, pain and anger. But for me, These names conjure friends. This is my epitaph to them and their memory....