Roanoke Church of Christ



Many, if not all of you who read this will understand what I’m describing.
We stand in the experience of the death and loss of someone not of our immediate family. We feel sorrow, sympathy and even grief, if that’s the proper term. But we also stand outside their circle. We hurt, we ache, but we are not “inside.”
We enter the inside of death’s circle when it is immediate family. It’s different in there. The feel is different. It’s a different world. It is a place where you know death has now entered your world in a different way. Looking around the inside of that circle, if you are among those who are older, the feeling is real and personal. Having lost two brothers in seven months makes life and death look different.
My brother, Walter, was the oldest brother. He and my sister (the oldest) and my brother Richard “Doc,” were born near the end of what is called “The Great Depression.” People were still rebuilding their lives and times were meager and hard.
As I look back on that, I think it strengthened them in ways I was not. By the time I was born things were changing. The war machine brought jobs, and when I was five my mother and father bought their first house with two bedrooms. There were six of us.
Walter was the artist. In high school he drew his own cartoon strip called “Wally the Worm” In Norwood High School art class the students were taken to the Cincinnati Art Museum where discretely posed nude models allowed them to paint the human form, something that I doubt could be done today. I can still remember the oil paintings of nude forms in various surroundings he painted. Later in life he painted at least one portrait for a woman who rented from my parents. I remember she was very pleased with it. My mother asked him to paint her a picture, and he did, but he painted little, if at all after that.
While in high school he built a table for my train in our basement. He used Plaster of Paris to build overpasses, streets and tunnels. It took up a lot of the small basement, which was so dark and scary I only went down there in the day time.
He met at church, and married Orene “Renie” Bolin when he was about nineteen. They had a third floor attic-type apartment with an outside staircase about ten blocks from our house and I would walk there some Saturdays and was always welcome. any time I showed up. Renie was from “down in Kentucky” and on a couple of long weekends when they visited her father, they took me along. When I write about Ben I am envisioning the house and hollow in which her father lived.
Walter had various jobs and finally, after living in a very small house trailer in Bromley, Kentucky, with one child, they had enough money to buy some land up the road. It was a hillside with a creek down between the road and the hill to the place he would build the house. He was selling Fuller Brushes. Then polio struck. One of his legs shriveled to where he could wrap his hands around his thigh. He was six foot two. The doctor called it “Summer flu.” But when it was determined to be polio the doctor refused to change his diagnosis so Walter could get help from the Polio Foundation. I don’t remember how they survived, but somehow they did I do remember helping him on the house and seeing him carry cement blocks from the road down the hill, across the creek, then up the hill to where he had hand-dug the foundation as he dragged his bad leg. By the time he got the house built the crippled leg was almost as strong as it was before the polio. He favored that leg until he died. I can’t imagine how hard it was. But he never stopped. I don’t think he ever really finished that house the way he wanted, but it was home. Jo and I can remember good times with them when we were in Cincinnati. Canasta was the card game of choice and we played a lot of hands. By that time they had three children.
At some point he started selling butcher supplies and then was offered a job as the manager of a small custom butchering plant in Owingsville, Kentucky. From there he was invited to be a partner at a new and larger plant near Greenville, SC. The Donaldson Air Base there had just closed and Greenville had turned it into a center for business. Because the Air Force had moved out there were plenty of homes at a reasonable price. They found a nice brick home on a corner lot and life was good.
When new government regulations came about, small places like his were hit hard. Not due to any sanitary problems, but they couldn’t open until the inspector arrived, and at that time the inspector had several places to open. So that left Walter’s crew waiting for an hour or more while still being paid. He told me often after he paid his employees, there was little left. In the early seventies he finally sold out.
During much of that time he was an elder at a local Church of Christ. He and others would drive up toward Asheville, to a place called “Slater Marietta” and preach. Again, in the early seventies he became their minister. He had intended to preach the Sunday before he died.
When it came to scripture, we were different. He wanted to be “sound” and to be right. We never talked “Bible”, but we loved each other.
While touring Israel he saw children on the street learning Greek. He felt if they could, he could, and he did. Then he felt the need to learn Hebrew, and did so. It was all about his determination to get everything right and to teach the “truth.”.
Over the years I wondered if his legalistic approach would be enough to give him peace when the end came. The day before he died he told those with him not to worry about his driving, (which apparently they were) he wouldn’t hit any clouds on the way up. So for him it did, and I’m glad. That’s about all any of us can ask of our faith, isn’t it?

CONCERNS: Richard Crites; Mary Smith is recovering from back problems. Judy McWhorter’s sister’s husband is being treated for cancer. Also dealing with cancer and after-cancer treatment are: Leena Bolin’s brother, Nick; A friend and classmate of Garrett Lee Williams who has leukemia; Connie Crites’ brother; Jim Hunter; Deana McRoy; Philip Pierce’s mother; Stephanie Rigney; Marge Greenwood; ten year old Regan; Sharon and Billy, friends of Del Bolin. Remember also Gil Richardson, a friend of Martha Foy’s who has muscular dystrophy; Jenni Cullum; Helen Nicklas; Alma Martin; Ron Matney and Tim Elder.

Monday: Daniel 6:6-28
Tuesday: Mark 4:26-41
Wednesday: Psalm 136:1-26
Thursday: Matthew 7:1-6
Friday: Acts 23:11-35
Saturday: Psalm 135:1-21

Monday: I Peter 1:1-11
Tuesday: Luke 2:1-10
Wednesday: Proverbs 2:1-15
Thursday: Romans 15:1-13
Friday: I Thessalonians 5:1-11
Saturday: Psalm 115:1-18

The congregation extends its sympathy to the Keith Wagner family in the death of Keith’s brother, Walter, who died on Monday, July 8th. The funeral was in Greenville, SC on Monday, July 15th.
Our sympathy is also given to Jim Smith in the death of a sister, who died in Tennessee about the same time as Keith’s brother.

Thank you for all the cards, calls, prayers and flowers we received during my brother’s death. Such concern helps in times of grief. Keith Wagner

Today, Sunday, July 21st is Super Sunday. Please stay and enjoy the good food and fellowship following the service

There will be a steering committee meeting in the library following the Super Sunday meal.

Folks from here will be preparing the evening meal at the Ronald McDonald House this evening. If you would like to help, see Martha Albert. If you haven’t done this and toured the house, you’ve missed a wonderful good work. We will stop doing this for awhile and restart in a few months. The “house” has several groups which help with preparing meals.

A new recording devise is now plugged directly into the sound system. This allows the sermons to be recorded directly from the system so CDs can be made of the sermons.

With the new sound system we all need to be sure the building is secure when we leave. The front door was left unlocked after last Sunday’s service. Since there was an attempted break-in a few weeks ago, we were very fortunate not to have lost everything we just installed. Please, if you are the last one out, check all of the doors and be sure they are locked. We all need to take the responsibility to do this to protect what we have.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.