Retired Aiken High School teacher releases debut book

Submitted Photo by The Edgefield Advertiser Press/Robert Norris, Kate Lowish “Ramblin’ ‘Round” is the debut book by Buck Asbill. The cover is designed by Kate Lowish, while Robert Norris took the photo. Both are employees of The Edgefield Advertiser.

Retired English teacher Buck Asbill, 76, never really wrote for pleasure until around 2003, when he wrote his first column for The Edgefield Advertiser.

He had his weekly “Ramblin’ ‘Round” column until 2013, and earlier this year, he released “Ramblin’ ‘Round,” a 312-page paperback collection of those regular publications.

The columns are divided into 16 chapters and reflect Asbill’s thoughts and memories involving education, technology and family.

Asbill was born on Sept. 1, 1939, in Johnston.

He attended Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and then Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama.

Studying to become an English teacher, Asbill enjoyed the reading aspect of his learning more so than the writing requirements.

“The only writing I did was assigned writing,” he said.

After working at his first postcollege job in Newnan, Georgia, Asbill was hired by Aiken High School in 1964.

Asbill only intended to stay and teach English at the school for a couple of years but ended up working there for 13 years.

“I could have stayed there my entire 35 and would have been happy,” he said.

His last full-time teaching job was at Strom Thurmond High School in Johnston, where he stayed from 1976 to 1995.

Around 2002, The Edgefield Advertiser’s owner, publisher and editor Suzanne Gile Mims Derrick approached Asbill about reporting Johnston’s news for the paper.

Though that original assignment was never completed, Asbill started to write down his takes on the world.

“Because I chose different topics, I called it ‘Ramblin’ ‘Round,” he said.

His first entry was written around the end of 2002 and was inspired by Richard Wilbur’s poem, “Year’s End.”

Mostly every week, his column would show his readers what he thought about current events as well as let them into his past.

“You can see how I felt about cellphones for 10 years,” he said. “I wouldn’t touch one, you know berated everyone who had one, but then I got to the point where I couldn’t be without one either, especially when our children went off to college.”

He and his wife Nancy Carpenter Asbill are the parents of John Simeon Asbill and Courtney Clark Asbill Drumheller; he dedicated his book to his wife and children.

Even though he wrote about varied topics, Asbill tried to make each piece light-hearted.

The writer remembered when a reader asked him, “Why don’t you write something serious one week?”

When Asbill did, he remembered that same reader jokingly telling him, “Don’t ever do that again.”

“I just think there is enough serious stuff in the news every day and that (information) you need to print. You have to print what’s going on, but I wanted to do something light and just get away from the serious stuff for a few minutes,” Asbill said.

Something he would often hear was requests for him to publish a collection of his columns.

When Asbill finally decided to answer those requests, he went through the columns his wife kept and through the newspaper’s archives.

From compiling them to sorting them into categories, the process took more than a year, Asbill said.

His family helped him edit for errors.

Kate Lowish, the Edgefield newspaper’s graphic artist, assisted Asbill with the book by designing the cover and helping him gather the articles, while Robert Norris, the paper’s photographer, took the photos used.

The book is $19.95 and was published by The Edgefield Advertiser Press.

Asbill will be signing and selling his books from 1 to 5 p.m. Friday at 3 Monkeys Fine Gifts, 141 Laurens St. S.W.; Sallye Rich, who owns 3 Monkeys, was Asbill’s former student.

“Ramblin’ ‘Round” can be purchased at The Edgefield General Store, 102 Courthouse Square, through major online retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble or by calling Asbill at 803-480-0224.

Asbill enjoys outdoor activities and has no current plans to release another book.

Stephanie Turner graduated from Valdosta State University in 2012. She then signed on with the Aiken Standard, where she is now the features reporter.