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Robert Williams

The late Dow Nimmer offered much, inspired many, gone too soon

By Robert M. Williams, Jr.

Our community’s latest award for efforts in promoting education and economic development will soon be announced. The Dow Nimmer Award has had many worthy recipients, but it could have no more worthy a namesake than the late Dow Nimmer.

Dow’s unselfish spirit typified that of his entire family, going back many decades when his father uprooted from South Carolina to establish a thriving business here selling cars and tractors. The Nimmers were accomplished at sales. Not because they were glib, but because they genuinely cared about satisfying their customers. They understood the small-town credo of selling, not for a one-time quick profit, but for a lifetime relationship. That legacy has been carried on in an outstanding manner by the public service of his nephew, Chad.

In Dow’s case, however, his service was far too short. He fell dead of a heart attack just over 27 years ago at age 47. It was a devastating blow to me and to our community.

Dow and I worked together on several projects over many years, including selling an old industrial building here more than 30 years ago. That building had, at that time, been unused for the better part of two decades but came back to life with more than 100 jobs. Those jobs are gone again today, unfortunately, but the building has been in almost continual use since because the sizable investment made then brought it back to productivity. Like many of Dow’s “sales,” it didn’t bring huge profits at the time, but the small dividends are still coming nearly three decades after he left us.

A favorite memory is when Dow and I teamed up to speak to a group of high schoolers about community leadership. We each had lectured the group on how everyone has an obligation to give back to the community that sustains us. We sat back then and listened as those youngsters brainstormed about what they envisioned for their hometown in years to come. Some had grandiose visions of giant factories coming, bearing hundreds of jobs and gobs of cash. A few, though, talked of improving our schools, creating an environment for better education and setting the stage for an improved quality of life through knowledge.

Dow leaned over, cutting his eyes toward me through those thick glasses he wore, and whispered: “They get it.”

Dow’s legacy remains alive through the award established by his family and presented by his lovely wife, Rally Nimmer Riberon. The award recognizes those who understand that improved educational opportunities, growth and economic diversity pay big dividends over the long term.

Our community pauses each year and, with this award, recognizes those here who “get it.”

Being a recipient of the Dow Nimmer Award is one of the nicest dividends I’ve ever received for my relatively small contributions made over these many years.

Sometime very soon, a new and worthy winner of the Dow Nimmer Award will be announced and honored for the same spirit Dow embraced and encouraged.

Our community is richer because of Dow and those who follow his legacy.

• Robert M. Williams, Jr. is Editor & Publisher of The Blackshear Times. Email:

Robert M. Williams, Jr. can be reached at