Local 79-year-old retired missionary sings, plays saxophone to spread holiday cheer

Gene Wilson of Graniteville

Gene Wilson set up camp in Graniteville and shared his love of music with the community Thursday morning. (WRDW-TV / Dec. 22, 2011)

News 12 First at Five / Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011

GRANITEVILLE, S.C. -- Christmas is just days away, but the economy and local violence can put a damper on the mood. One local man is hoping to spread a little holiday cheer through the gift of music.

Graniteville native Gene Wilson is making a joyful noise this Christmas. The 79-year-old retired missionary says he has always wanted to do share his love of music with anyone willing to listen.

"And as old as I'm getting I figured I better get on with it," Mr. Wilson said. "So that is why I am down here."

Mr. Wilson set up his music stand in front of a Graniteville floral shop where Mrs. Gloria Myers is the designer.

"Some of the people that heard him to begin with went home and got their families and brought them back," Myers said. "When I began to see the people gather around him, it really lifted me up."

Lana Green couldn't help feeling inspired as the small town of Graniteville still grapples with the impact of a deadly train wreck that shuttered the local mills and factories.

"He just touches your heart," Green said. "In this area because of the chemical spill it has kinda gotten dead, and he has brought back the spirit of Christmas. It's just amazing."

Several people left tips for Mr. Wilson. He plans to donate the money to local charities.

"It's kinda sad to see everything shutdown like this, " Mr. Wilson said. "But it is good to be back. I hope that I can make some kind of contribution to building up the community in some small way."

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