Community Champions: Welcome to Savannah Man

Updated: Jan. 27, 2021 at 12:41 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The sounds of Wright Square are still there, but not its most familiar site.

“He just always brought a certain joy to this square,” James Pringle’s nephew, Chandler Steel said.

Pringle was a fixture at his favorite spot in Savannah, and an unofficial ambassador for his city, the “Welcome to Savannah Man” who connected with everyone he met.

“He spent his time bringing smiles to locals and visitors to our community. He always had a song in his heart and a smile on his lips. Whenever I saw him or asked people around town about him, they always said the same thing, he’s just a great guy,” Pringle’s great nephew, Art Steele said.

Pringle passed away last week, after months when he and his palm roses were absent from Telfair Square because of an extended illness. But not before leaving his mark on the Historic District.

“He meant a whole lot to the city. There’s not a stranger he didn’t know. He’d make you happy. If you had a problem, you’d come out here and sit with him and he’s happy and he’s talking and singing you a song and makes you happy,” Pringle’s nephew, Cornell Williams said.

Pringle’s family had a small memorial service for him over the weekend, but now would like him to be memorialized in the spot where Savannah came to know him.

They have started a GoFundMe page to have a plaque made and will ask the city to place it in Telfair Square in his honor.

“A lot of people say Ray Charles had Georgia on My Mind. Well, my uncle Jesse James had Savannah on his mind.”

“He’d put a plant on the right hand side and sing ‘oh, oh, ho, ho ...’’ I can hear that right now. I asked him what that means, and he said, ‘young boy, you’ll learn one day.’”

And Pringle’s family hopes future visitors to Telfair Square will be able to learn about the WTOC Community Champion who had a kind word for everyone he ever met there.

“I meet people from all walks of life and even on my travels, and if they’ve ever been to Savannah, they’ll remember the Welcome to Savannah Man.”

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