Minsom Sessoms believed in community service just as much as he believed in small business, and he made an impact in both areas in Sampson County.
He was founder of Sessoms Jewelry, a business that continues to thrive today — nearly 50 years after its start — under the leadership of daughter Deborah and son-in-law Gary Wayne Hall.
The success of the jewelry store can be traced back to Sessoms’ belief in giving customers solid service, quality products and reasonable prices, and, of course, his desire to do what he could as a businessman for his community. That tradition continues today under the Halls, who have followed Sessoms’ example.
But as strong as Sessoms was in business, it was his love of community service that perhaps sets him apart the most.
Sessoms, along with a group of other civic-minded individuals and business leaders in Clinton, was a charter member of the Clinton-Sampson Rescue Squad. It was his tenacity, along with that of his partners, that turned an idea of having a squad into a full-fledged service.
Interviewed in 2012 by The Sampson Independent, Sessoms talked with pride about those early days of service, noting that he, nor any of those involved, ever minded rising early – and sometimes often – to answer the calls, knowing that the service they were now providing was helping someone.
“It was good for the community, I know that,” Sessoms noted in that interview. “People just somehow felt better once we formed that squad.”
Sessoms and the other rescue workers not only gave their time, they pulled out of their own pocket for expenses.
None of them, Sessoms said, minded one bit. They were all in, believing that the service was needed and vital to a growing community.
He was right, and the entire county owes a debt of gratitude to those men for what he and others like him began over five decades ago.
His death in late December 2015, along with the death of another charter member and strong business presence, Jimmy Naylor, back in the summer, ends an era in our rich history. But the examples both those men set live on in the mark they made and the distinct service they brought.
It is our hope, in fact, that people use Sessoms and Naylor as examples to follow, offering their own vision and service to a community that is still growing and still in need of visionary ideas and people to implement them.
No community can thrive without invidivudals who are willing to sacrifice some of their time and money for the greater good, much like Sessoms and Naylor and, quite frankly, dozens of others who live in our midst today.
It is important for our young people to recognize the significance of men like Sessoms and Naylor and the contributions they made, and to sense the need for others to follow suit so that, generation after generation, people of service will be present in our communities.
In 2012, Sessoms said: ” There was a need, we all saw a need, and we worked to meet that need. I’m proud to say I think we met those needs and we helped a lot of people. That’s a good feeling. It’s what kept us involved and it’s what makes me feel good about our service even today.”
We hope others feel that way as they look around our community, recognizing things that need to be done and joining together to do them. If they do, then the examples that men like Sessoms and Naylor set will live on, and our community will be the better for it.