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Former Town Crier remembered before beloved Dickensian event | Local news


Ahead of the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County’s 36th annual Dickens of a Christmas festival this weekend, the Williamson County community remembers former Town Crier Dr. John Mather for his generosity, kindness, courage, friendship and his years of public service.

He died of a heart attack last year on December 5 at the age of 77.

Mather came to the United States in 1968 in search of a medical career after graduating from the University of London. When he settled in Franklin, he became known for his involvement in the International Churchill Society, his colorful personality as he wore the habit of the English royal court during the events of downtown Franklin and his heart as a passionate servant.

One of her favorite local events was Dickens of a Christmas, where her town crier costume paired perfectly with the Charles Dickens-themed celebration.

Mather was elected to the American Guild of Town Criers in 2018 and received a medallion. He wore it to many local events.

“I remember my last few months as mayor of Brentwood… he led the town’s 50th anniversary parade and walked the entire parade route,” Jill Burgin, Franklin Main Street program executive director and specialist in government relations for the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, had previously told the Herald. “During the ribbon cuts for new businesses in downtown Franklin, his distinctive and powerful voice shouting ‘Oyez, aye’, along with the ringing of the bell caught everyone’s attention, which was exactly what it was. the goal. And this beautiful uniform captivated everyone around him.

While Mather was officially recognized as a town crier for two years before his death, his local involvement began years earlier.

In 2016, he co-founded the Churchill Society of Tennessee and served as president of the local chapter of the society. It was even a resource for several authors writing about the Churchill family. Mather had a wealth of knowledge about the health of Winston Churchill throughout the life of the leader.

Mather also served at the Central Office of the Veterans Administration as a medical officer and as the Associate Executive Director of Medical and Research Programs for Paralyzed Veterans of America. While working as a freelance medical examiner, he was a certified mentor for the Williamson County Veterans Treatment Court and regularly performed medical assessments for veterans seeking disability benefits in Middle Tennessee.

“Before I met John,… I knew there were underserved people who lived [in Williamson County] – you hear about it, but I didn’t really believe it, ”said Rhyan Preyer, a longtime friend of Mather’s. “John really drew my attention to the number of struggling homeless veterans who live in our community and the number of underserved families here. “

Preyer is the STEM Scouts director for the Middle Tennessee Boy Scouts of America. It is a program that provides free science education materials and programs to disadvantaged young people.

“[Dr. Mather] has helped me realize that my job as a professional is to serve all young people around the world, and I can’t say that I love my job and love what I do and not focus not on the kids who are here in my backyard because I guess someone else will take care of them, ”he said. “So I really took that to heart, and then after that we set up several STEM labs… here in the local community, and it resulted in something incredibly fantastic: one of the girls that we Framed in the Program just made the cover of Time magazine in 2020 as the very first child of the year.

Mather’s spirit of encouragement, generosity and energy was confirmed by her longtime friend Cheryl Brown, chair of the Williamson County Republican Party.

“He was a friend, indeed,” she said. “He loved to dance and have fun was his first name, middle name and last name.

“Some things he taught me [were] to stay engaged in your community, give back and serve those who need you.

It is said that Mather lived his life fearlessly by those who loved and knew him. He is remembered, especially at this time of year, as a factor of change and an infectious spirit. The many improvements he made to the Williamson County community are too numerous to record.

This weekend’s Dickens of a Christmas event will certainly be a little quieter without its town crier.


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Cory E. Barnes

The author Cory E. Barnes