Gallatin holds so many stories that have shaped our local landscape and culture. Memorialized through various storytellers, passed down from generation to generation, painted on murals, preserved in books and individual memories, some of these stories deserve to be told over and over again. One of our local stories that deserves that distinction is that of Eddie Sherlin and Bill Ligon.
Dana Farley, lifelong Sumner County resident, local Realtor and daughter of Eddie Sherlin, shares one of those stories that shaped her family, our area, and continues to be a testament to Gallatin.
“Eddie and Bill grew up on opposite sides of the tracks in Gallatin, but their friendship from an early age and the love of basketball blurred the lines that society at the time had created. They attended different Gallatin schools in a difficult era: Eddie an all-white school (Gallatin High) and Bill an all-black school (Union High). They both were exceptional leaders on their basketball teams and in 1970 both teams made it to the district tournament finals where they squared off against each other. This was monumental for so many reasons, but one of the largest reasons was that the two Gallatin high schools were to desegregate the following year. This game would be the first (and the last time) that the schools would play each other. On the day of the game, the two teams battled hard, going back and forth until the fourth quarter when Eddie was seemingly unstoppable leading Gallatin High to victory. The gym erupted with cheers from Gallatin fans and the announcer began to name the all-tournament team. Eddie was called first; still crying from the win, he walked out to center court. Then, Bill's name was called next. It took Bill a moment but he started to walk toward Eddie. Eddie, seeing the pain in Bill’s eyes, began walking simultaneously toward his friend, Bill. The crowd that was roaring moments before, was now completely silent. Eddie saw his childhood best friend hurting from a tough loss and embraced him. No one could believe what they saw: a white and a black man embracing each other. Several minutes passed and other players began hugging, too. These two men made Gallatin history in more ways than one that day and so many years later, that moment is still memorialized with a beautiful Bryan Deese Mural on the Gallatin Square.
A lot has changed in Gallatin since then but Dana still reminisces with a smile as she fondly tells the story of her father and what it ultimately meant to our area. As a proud daughter, the sentiment is expected. But, even more so as a proud local in our area and knowing what it signified, it is even more heartwarming.
Now, more than 50 years after that historic and remarkable local tale, Dana carries on that legacy of Eddie and Bill by being relational and intentional in everything she does. Dana serves on the Board of Directors for the Literacy Council of Middle Tennessee which serves so many of our youth by giving them additional reading time during school hours and offering one-on-one tutoring outside of the school setting. Not only does the Literacy Council serve our children, but it also serves our adults to enhance their academic skills–all as a free service to our community (literacymidtn.org).
As a local Realtor, she also makes it her mission to serve others and to walk hand-in-hand with them through whatever they need while navigating them through a daunting process. Dana says today more than ever, people are a bit apprehensive about the real estate market but also says that’s the perfect opportunity for her to demonstrate the caring value and passion she has for helping others. She has helped people navigate the markets through the industry's ups and downs and everything in between. “I love helping them to overcome that fear and show them the joy that comes from home ownership or the joys of getting to take that next step toward their dream home. Thinking back to my earlier days, one of the most common complaints that people today have is that they wish they would have bought a home sooner,” she says. The same holds true today!
Dana still calls Gallatin home where she resides with her husband and three children she stays involved in the hometown she loves. For Dana, she’s a hometown product with an amazing hometown story and she wouldn’t have it any other way!