Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

December 17, 2011

Just a good ol’ boy

‘Dukes of Hazzard’ star visits LARC

VALDOSTA — VALDOSTA — With a “Yee-haw-haw,” and a “Possum on a gum bush,” local Lowndes County adults with development disabilities were treated to an early Christmas present Friday with the arrival of a local celebrity.

Sonny Shroyer, who played the bumbling, yet honest Deputy Sheriff Enos Strate in the popular TV series “Dukes of Hazzard,” stopped by the Lowndes Advocacy Resource Center Friday morning to replenish the spirits of about 150 people with his good-natured humor.

“I got more love out of that room than many people get all their lives,” said Shroyer after entertaining the group. “To see them smile will bring a lifetime of joy in your heart when you remember those people.”

His infectious laugh caught on quick with the crowd who joined in on the songs with steady claps and a couple of slick dance moves.

“When you hug one of those guys or girls’ necks and you realize that God has been so good to me ... there’s so much love in these kids,” he said. “I call them kids, but I’m still a kid and I’m 76 years old. It’s just giving love and getting love. It just all works together.”

His visit was the work of one of the LARC consumers — an adult who has permanent developmental disabilities. The consumer’s mother invited Shroyer.

Along with his childhood pal, Billy Hill, hearts and eyes brightened at his performance and jokester persona. After a couple of boombox tunes and harmonica numbers, Shroyer made his way through the room to hand out individually autographed pictures personalized to each person.

“He gave me a hug,” one older female said with a smile spread wide across her face.

Another consumer said he didn’t want to see Shroyer because he already owned all of the movies and television shows, said Dr. Henry Hamm, LARC executive director.

Hamm explained to him that it was actually Enos, to no avail.

Friday morning, however, the man was excited to see the actor who played the character on one of his favorite television shows.

“Things like this really broaden their horizons and teaches them a lot of things,” said Hamm who has served as executive director for 12 years. “I’ve learned that the people we serve have many more abilities than they do disabilities. Once you get to know them, they’re all individual people. People who give back more than they get.”

Shroyer has made it a habit during the last few years to visit various facilities partially because he has a relative who suffers from a developmental disability.

He still lives in Valdosta his hometown, and is still making the occasional movie, including a film entitled “Unconditional,” where he plays the oldest convict in prison.

“There’s no place like home,” said Shroyer.

Although he likes to stay close to Valdosta, he still finds plenty of good in everyone he meets — even celebrities.

“Celebrities are regular people just like anyone else,” said Shroyer. “They may have a few more idiosyncrasies or more skill remembering lines and deep down I don’t know why. I don’t know why God made actors.

“In the Bible, there were some pretty bad actors,” he said. “King David acted up quite a bit. He was actually just like any other celebrity. He kind of liked girls and he was a murderer, too. He was a king and one of God’s favorite people.”

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