“NEW LIFE” BULLEIN – VOL. 27, NO. 25&26 – THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT IN ROANOKE
“NEW LIFE” BULLEIN-Sept. 20, 2015
VOL. 27, NO. 25&26 THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT IN ROANOKE
On Friday, September 4, at 5:00 P.M. a violent thunderstorm passed through Roanoke, dropping quarter to pea-sized hail across the Roanoke valley. Some parts lost power. Among them was the home of Richard and Connie Crites. Richard had just arrived home on Wednesday. He’d been in a nursing facility after fighting cancer for three years. Thursday was a good day, but on Friday it was hard to tell if he was awake. At 10:25 that night, he took his last breath. Connie, Kirsten and I were with him.
It is almost symbolic that the lights went out the night Richard died. Richard was a light to all who knew him, and for all of us who loved him, a light in our life went out that night.
Rich came from a typical Church of Christ background. You went to church because that’s what Church of Christ people do. You knew what you were supposed to think and do. If you showed up and had your ticket punched, checked off the list of dos and don’t, you went to heaven. He was faithful to this concept for much of his life.
When his first wife decided marriage was not for her, it crushed Rich. No one in his family had suffered a divorce. It was a very low point in his life. However, even though his first wife moved away, Rich still did things for her parents until they died.
In the mystery that is life, he and Connie found each other here at church and began a life together that all who knew them recognized was meant to be.
Even if Rich hadn’t seen it yet, others saw his potential as a servant of God. Not long after his marriage to Connie, he began to think about relationship with God, rather than “checking off the list.”
Those who knew him from the time he arrived in Roanoke, right out of college, to teach Biology at Virginia Western Community College, all saw the change in him. What they saw was a man of integrity, love, service and grace. One can only wonder what he might have been had he not had the experiences that led him and Connie to become the inspiration to others that they were. Both having previous marriages, they became the source of strength to those who needed guidance in starting marriage over.
Rich cherished what marriage to Connie and his place in her daughters lives gave him. The compassion and goodness he’d learned as a little boy, made him a trusted husband, father, friend and teacher.
For a short time in the early 90s while we served as two of three elders, I noticed something special about Rich. He had his ego under control. For a short time there was just the two of us serving as elders. If someone came to me to talk about something, and not him, he was fine with that. The same went for me. If we felt that a confidence wouldn’t be broken, we’d ask each other for help. So often egos get involved in leadership which defeats the process. However, even after he and I resigned and the direction of the church became the function of the steering committee, as well as the congregation, he was still seen as the leader. In fact, more folks turned to him than me, for which I was grateful. You can’t imagine the trivia that occupies some folks mind.
Rich was a reluctant leader. If you know your Bible, most significant prophets and leaders did not believe they were. That’s one of the wonderful things about transformation. It just happens. Of course, in most cases there is a foundation laid. Rich would talk about how his mother was the spiritual leader in their home. He talked about hearing her sing hymns as she worked around the house. This, along with his father’s work ethic laid the foundation for Richard’s life.
Every minister’s family has people in each congregation they serve who, in some way, becomes a place of refuge. These are people who draw you into their lives and make yours better. I could list all of their names from the first church to the present, but none was better than Rich and Connie. Their home, as well as several others, became a place where the church family was often invited. Beyond those occasions were those which involved Jo and me. Invitations to dinner theaters, the Lime Kiln Theater, Mount Rogers and White Top, just to mention a few.
There was also the times it would just be Rich and I. Sometimes up on the Blue Ridge Parkway or at Arcadia, where he would introduce me to all kinds of growing specimens. But mostly we’d talk.
He was a guy from the farm. I was a guy from the city who had left the farm at five years old. But we both never forgot the smell of corn, clover, livestock and the distinct smell of leaves and corn stocks in the fall.
For a number of years before he was no longer able, he was the church treasurer, On Mondays after he retired from teaching, he would come by the office and pay bills. If there were none, we talked about anything and everything that came to our minds.
Beyond the church, countless of his students have praised his personal concern and help in achieving their educational goals. Among those he influenced were the folks at Famous Anthony’s. Restaurant. Even though he hadn’t been able to eat there for some time, at least two of the women wait staff came to the viewing to pay their respects.
Around his neighborhood, Rich was like State Farm, he was there; with a snow shovel, a chain saw, whatever it took as a good neighbor. The world is a little dimmer without him.
At his memorial service he had the last word, and this is what he said: “ I want to thank all of you for allowing me to come into your life. It has been a privilege! As your friend, mentor, teacher, parent husband or family member, I wish you well. I have lived a full life. For each of you, I would urge that you immerse yourself in the love of God and His Son. There is nothing more Valuable in this world. Walking with Them is a wonderful trip.”
CONCERNS: Melisha Scruggs’ cousin, Autumn, is being treated for cancer. Mary Smith spent a few days in the hospital in order to regulate her heart medicine. Roger Fisher’s brother, Woody is still under nursing care. A friend of Betty Shepherd is recovering from an assault. Melanie Gentry is showing some improvement after being in the hospital in Birmingham, Ala. Remember Joni Beach’s mother, Betty, as well as her father and aunt, Pat Voss, and also her niece, Jamie Cole. Jim Hunter is about the same. Also Wayne Phlegar, Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas, and Bill Albert’s son, David. Former member, Betty Shepherd’s condition has stabilized for the time being. Betty Foy’s sister, Sue Huels is very ill. Continue to pray for Sandra Anderson, Gil Shepherd, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Jenni Cullum, her friend, Sean, and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: SEPT. 21-26
Monday: II Thess. 1:2-12
Tuesday: Matthew 1:18-25
Wednesday: John 2:1-11
Thursday: I Thess 1:2-10
Friday: II Timothy 2:2-13
Saturday: Isaiah 40:1-11
OUR DAILY BREAD: SEPT. 28-OCT.3
Monday: Matthew 2:1-12
Tuesday Matthew 2:13-33
Wednesday: Genesis 31:36-50
Thursday: Acts 9:19-31
Friday: Psalm 122:1-9
Saturday: Psalm 140:1-13
Today (September 20) is Super Sunday. Several of our folks are out of town, but be sure to stay after the service and enjoy the fellowship meal.
THE BAR B QUE
We have rescheduled the Bar B Que for the last Saturday of this month, which is this coming Saturday. If you were unable to sign up for the first date, don’t worry, there will be plenty of chicken, pork and beef. However, if you did sign up and will not be able to attend, let Keith know.
This time together will honor Rich Crites, who loved the Bar B Que’s and enjoyed preparing the cooked meat for all of us to eat. This will be a time when we can all be together, since it was not feasible to
do so after his memorial service.
Since it is a little later in the month we may not have to worry about the heat and can enjoy the approaching fall weather.
STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING
We need to have a brief steering committee meeting after the Super Sunday meal for all those members who are available. We will meet in the library.
NEW SUNDAY MORNING CLASS
Del Bolin has started a new study in the Sunday morning Adult class. He will be leading the discussion involving the qualities of the Christian life and the Biblical scriptures which apply.
Many of you know that in cleaning out Walker Slusher’s house there are many Long Play record albums ranging for Big Bands, Broadway tunes, Symphonies, and classical, as well as some popular songs from decades ago. Some of them are temporarily stored under the pews in the annex. If you enjoy “wax” stop by and pull out a box or two and take a look. Some will be sold to a dealer, and the rest given to thrift stores in the area. ALSO: Walker seemed to collect lamps. If you would like to look and see if you could use one or two, see Keith about going in the house.
In the next week or so the immigration people will come and get what they can use as they settle people in Roanoke who have come to this area and country to start new lives after leaving disrupted countries in the world.