THOMASVILLE -- Local writer and Times-Enterprise columnist Theo Titus is releasing a book, "An Outdoor Heritage," featuring 29 selected columns from about 1,000 written during his 20-year history with the paper.

"It's a list of things I've written short articles about for the Sunday paper," said Titus, 85. "They are not in chronological order. Some are humorous, some are more serious and some are a combination."

The decision to publish the book of works came through Titus' family, who "insisted that I agree to it."

The driving force behind the project was his granddaughter, Tamara Titus of Charlotte, N.C., who has a business degree from the University of Georgia. She took her grandfather's columns and narrowed them down to 100 but was then forced to choose 29 to be featured in the book. Topics include fishing, hunting and flora and fauna.

Titus got his start after writing an opinion about an armadillo digging up his backyard and submitting it to the paper. It ran as a special feature on the editorial page and, a few weeks later, Titus was called and asked to write another article.

"I wrote the article and it has evolved from there to my now once-a-week column and the special columns on certain occasions," he said.

It generally takes Titus 30 minutes to write a column because he does not spend time editing his work.

"The best writing is what comes out first and is the most accurate and interesting," he said. "I write like I talk and leave it as it comes out unless I see a major error."

Column topics are chosen at random.

"If somebody tells me about something unusual that they have observed in natural life, I'll do a piece about it for Sunday morning," he said. "I appreciate the calls I get from people who have unusual things to report. Without their insight, I might not always get it. Sometimes it's not that providential and I have to think of something. I also use personal experience."

Titus has a special interest in natural history and cultural development and has spent many columns discussing these subjects in the Thomasville area.

The interest is also personal. In 1882, his great-grandfather sold Pebble Hill to the Hanna family for $2,000.

"The natural world takes precedence over any world we have," he said. "It is fast on the way to destroying it if we're not careful."

The love of writing stems from Titus' love to converse with others -- without immediate reactions.

"I just enjoy conversing with people when they can't talk back too quickly," he joked. "I can say what I please and, if they don't like it, they can say so and they do."

"An Outdoor Heritage" goes on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday during a book signing slated for the Thomasville Cultural Center.

"That was more engineering by the next generation," said Titus.

Barbara Cohenour, executive director of the cultural center, said she was contacted by a member of the Titus family about hosting the signing.

"I thought it was a great idea," she said. "After all, writing and literature are very much a part of the cultural activities we encourage here. He's a local author and it's about Thomasville so how could we say no?"

The book signing will be held in the board room with refreshments from 10 a.m. until around lunchtime. Copies of the book are $14 each.

"It's a relief because it will give my readers a focal point to talk about my columns," said Titus. "I'm happy with the book, and this is putting the stories in hard copy as a way for my children to have it other than besides hearsay. I just hope that people will enjoy it as much as I have."

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