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An English Rose in Georgia: Passing the torch
Lesley Francis new 2022.jpg

I have been thinking about the passing of time and the way the next generation is growing up and taking on more of the world’s responsibilities. This has been brought home to me by the decision of the editor of this newspaper, Jeff Whitten, to retire later this month. 

I know this will embarrass him, but I am going to say it anyway and I will be quite cross (British understatement meaning “extremely mad”) with him if he edits this out - Jeff is a great editor, an intelligent and interesting person, and has been a wonderful asset to our community. I will miss him. He is definitely ‘old school’ with all the positives that implies to me. This includes an understanding of what is news versus what is opinion, an extensive vocabulary and understanding of grammar, and he demonstrates a Baby Boomer’s (born 1946-1964) determination to just get the job done despite any challenges experienced. As a proud member of Generation X (born 1965-1980), I will also miss debating with him about which of these is better! Thank you, Jeff…. it has been a pleasure and an honor to work with you. I hope you continue to use your skills as well as enjoy a well-earned retirement.

I am impressed every day by how positively the next generation of Millennials (born 1981-1996) and Generation Z (born 1997-2012) are shaping up. My whole team at LFPR is from these two most recent generations to join the workforce, and they not only keep me young but also keep my attitude younger; although sometimes they also wear me out with their energy levels! I also met and am impressed by the new editor of this newspaper, Gen Z’s Andrea Gutierrez. Jeff, I believe you are leaving the newspaper in good hands, and Andrea, I am already enjoying working with you.

While in my own career I am nowhere near ready to hand over to the next generation, I am happy for Jeff that he is. ‘Passing the torch’ is a great expression that means to pass on the responsibility or role to someone else. It implies that the person who passes the torch on has done a good job and trusts the person who receives it to carry on their legacy. In the land of my birth, we say ‘hand on the torch’ rather than passing and it is even more confusing since the British refer to flashlights as ‘torches’. Confused yet? Try emigrating.

The expression of passing the torch originates from the Olympic torch, an iconic symbol of the Olympic Games; from the opening of the Olympic Relay in Olympia, Greece to the closing ceremony of the Olympic games. Fire had mythical significance in ancient Greece, and mythology tells the story of Prometheus stealing fire from the gods. A sacred fire burned at the altar of Hestia, the Greek goddess of the hearth, during the celebration of the original Olympic Games in Greece in 776 BC. This was part of a religious festival that honored the God Zeus, and these ancient Olympic games continued until around 393 AD.

The first modern Olympic games took place in Athens, Greece in 1896 but the Olympic flame was not reintroduced until the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. An employee of the Electric Utility of Amsterdam was appointed to light the flame at the Marathon Tower in the city’s Olympic Stadium. What about the idea of the Olympic Torch Relay? This was not a tradition brought about from the ancient Olympic Games, but an idea introduced by Carl Diem, who was the chief organizer of the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. The flame was carried by foot over 2,000 miles from Olympia to Berlin’s Olympic Stadium at the opening of the Olympic Games. When the Summer Olympics were held again in London in 1948, the relay tradition was continued as a “relay of peace” following World War II.

The Olympic Torch remains a symbol of the Olympics and a continued tradition through the three ceremonies – opening, closing, and medal presentation - held at each Olympic games. Running remains a popular form of transportation for the torch, but boats, railways, and buses have also been used. There is a lot more information at www.

I will leave you this week with a beautiful quote about the passing of time from British science fiction and fantasy writer Tanith Lee.

“Though we come and go, and pass into the shadows, where we leave behind us stories told - on paper, on the wings of butterflies, on the wind, on the hearts of others - there we are remembered, there we work magic and great change - passing on the fire like a torch - forever and forever. Till the sky falls, and all things are flawless and need no words at all.”

God Bless America! Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009. She can be contacted at lesley@francis. com or via her full-service marketing agency at

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