By: Michael Aun
Most people knew him as Mr. Raymond… some called him The Godfather… to others like my uncles and me… he was “Cuz” because that’s what he called us.
My uncles, Arthur and Eli Mack, were just small town grocers and in their day it was common to extend interest-free credit to most of their customers, many of whom were paid once a month.
In that kind of a small business, it’s helpful to have a local banker to whom you can when things are tight. “Cuz” was that kind of man.
Every small town across North America has a “Cuz” in its midst. In my hometown of Lexington, SC, he was a mainstay… literally part of the fabric that kept the community woven together.
When times were bad as they often were, the bank which he founded kept people from losing their homes and businesses. Indeed, he was our “George Bailey” He was the backbone of our community, always thinking of others first and constantly making sacrifices for the best interest of the public.
And like pillars in communities everywhere, he was born, raised and labored a lifetime… and died in the very town that he helped proliferate as much as any person.
His devoted wife, Lib, marched hand-in-hand and side-by-side with “cuz” for 67 years. The passionate couple were as true to each other as he was to the town he loved.
Our family had many close connections to the Caughman’s and their children. Many of my siblings were pals to the Caughman kids.
“Cuz” would bring me in to speak to a number of organizations of which he was a part as well as his own bank. When he was President of the South Carolina Bankers Association he invited me to keynote his convention in Hilton Head Island.
His resume read like “Who’s Who” in America, including serving in the US Army with occupational forces in China… to being awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Newberry College.
I had the privilege of addressing many of the organizations that he served, including Woodmen of the World Life Insurance. He was a long time National Director and active member.
I spoke often at Lexington County Hospital, which preceded the Lexington Medical Center Foundation, where he was also a Board member.
When I had the honor of addressing Rotary International, it was on the heels of a referral from “Cuz.” He was an active member the Lexington Rotary Club.
Raymond Caughman touched his community in so many ways. For a number of years he served as Coroner of Lexington County. I worked part time in high school at Caughman-Harman Funeral Home and would occasionally see “Cuz” in action.
Isn’t it odd how one person can touch another in a multitude of ways? What is even more unusual is the thousands of others over the years that he helped directly or indirectly, either through his bank, his service to the organizations in his community or through St. David’s Lutheran Church or the SC Lutheran Synod.
It is literally incalculable to measure how valuable someone like “Cuz” impacted the Lexington community. There is a “Cuz” or two in every town across North America, doing their part to keep the dream alive in their little corner of the world.
These folks are necessary cogs in the wheel of development in a community. They devote so much personal time to volunteer projects, not because they have to but because they want to. The greatest gift a volunteer can give is their time.
Volunteers like “Cuz” are not paid because they are worthless, they are not paid because they are priceless. All acts of kindness or volunteerism are repaid many fold, in this world or the next.
Some would call it the tax one has to pay for the position they occupy in a community. “Cuz” would call it an investment in his neighbor’s future.
On behalf of grateful communities everywhere, we owe a debt of thanks to all those people of the world like “Cuz.”
Michael Aun, CSP®, CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame® has addressed thousands of audiences in over 20 countries around the world.