Kailua newspaper man’s perseverance inspires community
His limp is obvious, his location dangerous, but his smile is still strong.
George Ligman is on the job.
That little drag across from Castle Medical Center, framed by the Koolau Mountains, and frequented by a stream of fans has been his spot, every day, for decades.
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“I always have a special wave for him,” said one driver.
“Siosi! How are you?” asked another, who knew his real name.
“He's got a lot of girlfriends out there too, you know,” said his wife Jane, with a smile.
She’s always nearby, keeping a watchful eye on George.
She said about 2 1/2 years ago disaster struck when a driver lost control of his truck, smacked into Ligman, careening into some shrubbery, dragging George with him.
“He dragged me under the car, up over the curb, that's what got me,” said George, his voice barely above a whisper.
“Folks cried. Oh my god. I was very emotional,” said Jane.
In critical condition, with four broken ribs, the flowers and well-wishes grew, and just a week and a half later he was back on job.
“He was just sitting, waving to his friends, and the horns came from this way and from that way. It was awesome!” she said.
George's challenges started decades ago.
As a teenager, he said he involved in a very serious motorcycle crash that literally split his head open and landed him in the hospital for a solid year.
“Therapy. Doctor calls it therapy for him. It keeps his mind occupied,” said Jane.
“I buy papers from him all the time, because he's trying to do a good job, no matter how hard it is on his life,” said one driver.
“He's a local hero and we all admire him,” said another.
“I wish to share a gift with you,” she began.
In her hands, was a personal letter from former Senator Fred Hemmings called "The Gift."
“Walking alone was a man about my age. His rugged face was of a thousand years,” read George.
“I saw honor. I saw dignity,” Jane continued.
This was “The Gift” it ended -- those kind words sparking a stream of tears from George and Jane.
“From George and I, we would like to thank all our supporters and all our friends,” said Jane.
As they have thanked them, through well wishes and thank you cards, on holidays and on any day, for a man serving his community, one smile, one wave, one paper at a time
“You are an inspiration to many,” read Jane from one card.
“He really is a wonderful man. We really love him,” said another driver.
What many don't know is up until recently, Ligman worked another job.
Jane said every day he'd sell papers until 11 a.m., take a nap, and then at 3 p.m., clock in at Pali Lanes Bowling Alley for another full-shift.
Jane also works two jobs -- at 7-Eleven and as a security guard, but unfortunately, that earns them just enough money to make them ineligible for low-cost housing a lot of benefits.
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