Heritage of Faith
In that great hall of faith as listed in Hebrews 11, verse 39, Scripture says all of these were commended through their faith and “we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.” (Hebrews 12:1)
Our Central congregation of believers stands on the work and faith of generations who have walked in loyal strength before us, witnessing to us by their lives, teaching us to walk by faith and not by sight.
These are the life stories of some of our older, faith brothers and sisters of Central who have helped make this congregation what it is today.
Enjoy reading their stories, saints born before 1927, the “Original Senior Class”, and be encouraged. Be thankful for this, our “Heritage of Faith.”
Doris Blasingame was born on October 21, 1924 in Tahoka, TX. Raised on a farm during the Great Depression, Doris and her mother worked in the field alongside her father who worked as a day laborer pulling cotton. Her mother helped her father in whatever needed to be done and her father helped her mother with the house in whatever way he could. She was raised to do right, obey her parents, and obey and respect her elders. There were also some times that they had no way to get to church because they didn’t have a vehicle but they remained faithful.
Doris’ grandad and later her dad influenced her walk with Christ. Her father’s family were faithful Church of Christ believers, and they left a strong family legacy to live up to. Doris remembers that her grandad was an elder and song leader in a small ginning community, Post, Texas. He always sat on the very front pew. Her grandad and future father-in-law would serve the church in other ways as well. They would do things like get to church early and build the fire to warm the building before people arrived. Her eldest cousin was in the first class to graduate from ACU. Doris was 15 when she responded to the invitation and was baptized in an outdoor tank. Her mother brought a quilt to wrap her up because it was cold. She remembers that her future husband Odell was leading singing when she responded.
Doris remembers playing baseball after church with her family and friends. All her cousins were boys. She was the only girl, but she was very good at baseball. Her future husband, Odell, lived across the field about a mile from where they played baseball and would come over to play with them. She was very shy so she would run to the car immediately after and Odell would have to stand there and talk to Doris through the window that was only rolled down a crack. The first time Odell saw Doris, he said, “I’m going to marry that girl!” They married on November 23, 1940 in Post, Texas when Doris was 16 and Odell was 19. In October of 1944, Odell was drafted into service during WWII. This caused Odell to lose his job as a farm hand and the house that had been provided with the job. So after only being married for four years, she and her almost one year old daughter moved in with her in-laws. Fortunately, they really loved each other. Her father-in-law called her “sis” because she was his daughter. She helped her mother-in-law with cooking for all the hired hands. On Sundays they woke up at 4:00 a.m. and killed a chicken, plucked it, cleaned it, and had it ready for lunch.
Odell spent 23 months in the service. He was in the Philippines when they bombed Japan and was then sent there. When Odell came back home, they had a tough time for several reasons. Doris had gotten used to being independent. Their daughter, Phyllis, had gotten very close to her grandfather while her father was gone and she wanted nothing to do with Odell when he returned. Also, Odell had seen hard things during the war. Eventually they had another daughter, Leta. Phyllis and Leta are 5 1/2 years apart. The girls remember that Doris would be fully dressed down to hair and earrings when making breakfast every morning. That was the only thing Odell asked of her and so she was obedient and never ran around the house in her robe.
They were married for 77 years. Doris was widowed on January 17, 2018. It is a testimony to their faith that they were able to stay married for that long. She loved God first and loved her husband second. She stayed with him through the good times and the bad, but their faith got them through. Her faith got her through the trials and tribulations of her life by allowing her to turn her concerns over to God. When there was nothing she could do, she would pray and forget about any worries. Doris was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. She and Odell slept soundly that night because they were able to turn that concern over to the Lord after praying together. She was able to bring both daughters back to the Lord because she refused to let them go. She is her daughters’ spiritual guide. She is still working on bringing her grandchildren to the Lord. In fact, she is still working on bringing all of her family to Christ, even in her 90s. Doris’ message for young people now is that they should have peace of mind when they try to do God’s will and to always be reading the Scriptures to learn right from wrong.
She has been a member of Central since late 1989 when they were still holding services in the old chapel.
[As told to and written by Dale and Donna Lowe]
1921 - 2018
One did not have to be around Odell but a short time to know he was a man of faith, a man of humor, a man with a story, a man who loved his wife and family, and a man who loved Christ’s church.
The Lord’s church was always a priority and a part of Odell’s life. As one of ten siblings, Odell had a strong heritage in the Church of Christ. Small churches are good training grounds for leaders in God’s kingdom, and Odell was no exception. Being raised in a small country church at Grassland, TX, young Odell was taught to have a strong faith in his Lord and was leading singing and worship at a young age.
One Sunday morning as Odell was leading their congregation in song, his future bride, a young 15-year-old named Doris came forward to be baptized. Odell said he was so excited when he saw her, he didn’t know whether he could finish the song.
Despite Doris’ shyness, their courtship began and at the age of 16 and 19, they were wed on November 23, 1940. Their example of faith, love and commitment to each other is a shining example of marriage, lasting more than 77 years.
Not too long after they married, in October 1944, Odell was drafted into the US Army and served during World War II in the Pacific theater. In 1951, they settled in north Amarillo where they attended the San Jacinto Church of Christ. Four or five years later, they moved their family to the south area of Amarillo and became members at the Southside Church of Christ. A few years later, the Southside and Southlawn congregations combined to form the Southwest Church of Christ. Odell and Doris began attending there in 1968. Then in 1989, they became members of the Central church.
After settling in Amarillo, Odell began his career working for the railroad. It was not easy work. He would be gone a lot. He would often come home from work at two or three in the morning. Odell loved his daughters and as Phyliss and Leta remember, Odell would come in their bedroom with his flashlight, making sure they were home and safe.
Working for the railroad had some perks too. It allowed him time off, giving Odell and Doris time to travel with their two girls. In the mid 1950’s being a good father, Odell wanted to take the family to Disneyland, which had recently opened. He borrowed $300 from the credit union and hit the road, rarely stopping.
They spent the night in California and were primed and ready for Disneyland. Odell was more excited than Doris, Phyllis and Leta because he had them up before sunrise. “We’ve got to beat the traffic and crowds,” he said. With the girls half asleep, they arrived at the parking lot of Disneyland …and not a car in sight. It was still 2 hours before opening time! But they beat the traffic!
With 10 siblings in Odell’s family and 10 siblings in Doris’s family, there were many uncles, aunts, and cousins everywhere. So many of their road trips were to visit relatives.
One Easter weekend, since Phyllis and Leta had Friday and Monday out of school, Odell decided they needed to make a fast trip to see relatives in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Odell built a little bench for the floor of the car in the back seat so the girls could sleep while on the road. No seat belts, but a sleeping bench. Odell drove hard, slowing down just long enough to change drivers. In fact, Phyllis said once Odell and Doris changed drivers in the front seat without stopping while going down the highway. And there was little time for stopping to eat, so Doris packed lunches…which consisted of apples and peanuts and cokes with peanuts.
Finally, Odell, needing a rest, stopped at a roadside park to nap. The girls napped in the backseat, Doris napped in the front while Odell stretched out on the picnic table. Now that’s the definition of a road trip!
Most of all, Odell knew the value of his church family and the importance of his relationship to His Savior. He and Doris were a valuable part of Central and the “Original Young Marrieds” class. In class, he was never without a comment, a poem or a good story. His memory, always sharp and amazing, made us smile!
2 Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
This describes Odell. He fought the good fight, he ran the race and ran it well as he kept his faith in the Lord, the giver of all righteousness. Odell’s faith became sight in January 2018. He now beholds the face of the One for whom he has lived these 96 years. And with new eyes that see perfectly and clearly, Odell beholds the face of his Creator and new ears to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant!”
[Adapted from funeral service preached by Lanny Newton]
1927 - 2018
Mr. Lacy Borger was born during the Great Depression to Lacy and Veda Borger on November 18, 1927. He grew up, of all places, in Borger, Texas. I asked him if they named the town in honor of his birth and he said, “No, Borger was named after a second cousin of my dad’s.”
Lacy was the oldest of three children, having a sister one year younger and a brother twelve years younger. Their father worked for the railroad, and Lacy remembers their family getting rail passes to ride the train to Oklahoma City to visit his grandparents who owned a dairy farm. One of his favorite games as a child was using a tennis ball and playing “Annie Over” as they threw the ball over the house in an era of no video games, no smart phones, and no computers.
Lacy’s parents were not Christians but they began attending church at the encouragement of some of their friends from Fritch. This began Lacy’s journey of faith as his parents began taking the family to church regularly. At age sixteen, Lacy was baptized by their preacher, A. G. Hobbs, on a Sunday at the Borger church. One person that influenced him as a young man was his Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Westbrook, and he remembers how she used “flashcards” with scriptures and pictures on each card.
Lacy wanted to be a Texas Aggie so after graduating Borger High School, he was off to Texas A & M. But then came World War II and the draft. After finishing two years at A & M, rather than be drafted, Lacy decided to enlist and served for three years in the Army Corps of Engineers. In 1945, he and other draftees and enlistees rode the bus to Houston for their physicals and before heading to basic training in Tacoma, Washington, Lacy was sent to the base at Roswell, NM for uniforms and clothing.
After arriving in Roswell, Lacy recalled seeing “the stars like I’d never seen them before.” The glory and the creation of God’s handiwork impacted him to the point he looked up the local Church of Christ preacher and was re-baptized at age 21. After boot camp, the Army sent him off to Alaska where he was stationed for two years.
After his discharge from the Army and coming to Amarillo, Lacy married the love of his life, Colene Wheeler, on September 15, 1950 in the chapel at the Central Church of Christ with Brother Floyd Houchin, minister, performing their wedding ceremony. Colene was a “farm girl” growing up on her parents’ farm between Quail and Wellington, Texas. After graduating high school, Colene moved off to the big city, Amarillo, and attended business college. Lacy remembered while Colene attended school, she roomed with another girl, Virginia Cooper, whom Lacy promptly asked to church at Central, and Colene came along for the ride. The next time they went to church it was Colene and, from that point on, Colene only.
After graduating from West Texas State University in 1951 with a degree in accounting, Lacy worked as an accountant for two years in Borger before becoming the office manager for McCartt Supermarkets in Amarillo until 1957 when they were bought-out by Safeway. Lacy then got involved in the cattle business until 1980, then he became the comptroller for Morehead Food Distribution in Amarillo until 1985. At that point, he went back to the cattle business and other business investments until his retirement.
Brother E. R. Carver of Central also influenced Lacy’s spiritual walk as Brother Carver taught their Sunday afternoon Bible class for young people. Lacy was very amazed how Brother Carver could teach and recall each student’s name in a class of 35 students. Some years later, Lacy and Glenn Runion taught a group of teenagers at Central on Wednesdays. Lacy said, “I tried to give them advice but they wouldn’t take it.”
Another great spiritual experience of Lacy’s was when he and Colene travelled to Israel on one of Dr. Bill Humble’s tours. For Lacy, Israel was a place where faith became sight. He fondly recalled Warlick and Jo Ann Thomas travelling with them as well as others who still attend Central. He remembered walking through the Hezekiah’s Tunnel in Israel and Bill Humble’s wife, Jerri, singing as they walked through this narrow tunnel. Lacy also remembered, “Colene could not swim, but she floated well on the Dead Sea.”
Lacy was a man of faith, faithful to his Lord and concerned with reaching out to the lost. Lacy began, and for more than five years, he ran the Joy Bus Ministry at Southwest Church of Christ. The Joy Bus was an outreach ministry to unchurched children in the neighborhood. He was so successful in this outreach, he did weekend seminars on the “how to’s” of Joy Bus Ministry in churches from Washington state to Houston to Alabama and Virginia.
Lacy also involved himself in spreading God’s Kingdom into foreign missions. One such example, about a year before Lacy’s passing, he gave $5,000 to have Bibles distributed in Zambia, Africa, a mission point that his daughter and son-in-law, Janice and Darrell, worked in yearly.
The most difficult times of his life were the deaths of two precious loved ones. His sister, Jo Ann, who lived in Borger, died of cancer at age 42. The other dark time of his life was when his sweet wife of 60 years passed from this life to her heavenly home. “Many times I lay awake on my bed thinking of Colene,” Lacy shared.
And when the subject of heaven came up, Lacy said, “I can hardly wait because I know Colene is there...waiting.”
Lacy and Colene passed on the faith to four children, Carolyn Mayfield, Mike Borger, Janice Conway, and Larry Borger, who are active, faithful disciples serving in the Kingdom of God today.
Lacy is now in the presence of his Lord, whom he served faithfully and consistently, and his beloved Colene. He passed to his heavenly home on February 28, 2018.
[As told to and written by Lanny Newton]
1918 - 2018
I asked Nita for an interview in December 2017, in her Bible Class at Central, and told her that we were collecting stories about the life and faith of Central members in their nineties. She said that I’d better hurry and get right over because she’s soon leaving her nineties behind, for 100. She laughed and then said, “Not really. I don’t turn 100 until August.”
Nita has been a member of Central Church of Christ for about 30 years. She was born Juanita Switzer in East Texas and moved to West Texas when she was about ten years old; her daddy built a house and farmed on the Matador Highway just a mile and a quarter out of Floydada. He had wonderful fruit orchards and raised cotton. She had a large family, seven siblings, and they walked to school in Floydada, except in inclement weather when her dad picked the kids up at the Piggly Wiggly. He liked to pick them up there, and not at school. Probably with seven children to pick up, some would straggle along and be late.
As a young girl, Juanita was given dolls and a baby buggy to play with, but she’d just push those over in the corner; she didn’t want to play with dolls. She liked to go out and shoot with her brothers, just target-practice on birds, which they seldom hit. Belying her present obvious stylish appearance, she was quite a tomboy. School let out for the cotton harvest, and her dad gave each kid 5% of the proceeds from the weight of cotton they picked. He couldn’t always afford that, but sometimes he did.
Her dad raised bulldogs and trained them to be watchdogs for the farm. When she started dating, her mother carefully tied up the dogs, so her dates could pick her up without worrying about the dogs. But her brothers, to tease her, often let the dogs loose and she’d have to watch out for them for the sake of her date. She’d say, “Cecil, you better run for the car. I hear those dogs coming around the corner.” Cecil Hart couldn’t be run off that easily. He and Nita met on a blind date of sorts. She was on a date with another young man and some of her friends knew she had gone to the movie theater. They came running into the movie theater announcing that Cecil Hart was outside and wanted her to come out. She looked at the movie, then her date and left both to go on the ride with Cecil. That changed her life. Cecil and Nita married in 1935. He became a farmer and rancher in Floydada, worked in heat and air conditioning in Amarillo, then moved to a farm near Hereford where he farmed and ranched, living his dream. Nita did meet the boy she left in the movie theater and they both had a good laugh.
Nita had heart surgery, a bi-pass and a patch-up for a hole in her heart in her late 20s or 30s. She says she wasn’t smart enough to worry about it. She was young and just knew she had to get well and was assured that she would be fine, and thankfully she was.
Her mother didn’t drive, and her daddy didn’t go to church, so she was happy when her oldest sister got her drivers license and took them to church in Floydada. Christianity changed her because it gave her something to look forward to—heaven. In 1953 she accepted Christ as her Savior and was baptized into Christ in the Church of Christ in Amarillo. It must have left its impact on her heart because she remembers that Curtis Campbell, a well-known preacher of the period, baptized her.
Losing her siblings and closest friends was hard for her. She’s the last of seven siblings; all the others have passed. Sometimes it makes her exhausted and sad. One Sunday before Christmas she was sad, and God, in his loving wisdom sent a couple of young men, one of them Mike Robertson, who showed up at Park Place with poinsettias for her. That cheered her heart a lot. She has also lost the help of Bill Holt who sat in the back with her and his wife; he helped her if she had any problems with the hearing devices here at church. He, too, passed recently. She also was saddened when she lost her driver’s license, but there is a bus at Park Place that helps the residents get around town. She has three daughters, Suzanne, who lives in Amarillo and two daughters in Dallas, Linda and Nancy. Her loving son-in-law, Dr. William East, gets up early and takes her out every Saturday to Cracker Barrel or Jamie’s Egg for breakfast.
When asked about her favorite scripture, Nita Hart couldn’t name just one. But she quoted her favorite hymn, the point of all of God’s Word: “Jesus loves me, this I know! For the Bible tells me so.”
Her message to young people is to never, never give up. She wishes they understood how hard life was in the early 20th Century, to live isolated on a farm. She says, “Always believe in Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit; just stick with them. They’ll see you through.” When she lived in Floydada, she came through that hard time when she could not get to church. She says that she “stuck with” her faith.
Nita believes heaven will be beautiful. She says she can’t quite imagine exactly what it will look like, but just to get there some day will be a reward, whatever God arranges for her.
Sadly for us, Nita passed in January, 2018, just a few days after this interview. She would have been 100 in August of 2018. She will be missed.
[As told to and written by Mevanee Parmer]
Bill Humble’s life is the story of a boy whose life was taken hold of for the sake of Christ, and who grew to become a man who has lived out that glorious purpose for which Christ Jesus took hold of him. He was influenced for good and became a man who influenced many others for their eternal good.
Bill grew up in a small town in southeast Missouri in the Ozarks. His mother, the greatest influence of his life, was a very devoted member of the Church of Christ. She was well-known for her work as a Bible teacher. His father was not a member of the church during Bill’s young years but worked for the railroad. He and his dad were baptized on the same night at a gospel meeting; Bill was thirteen years old but had been thinking he needed to surrender his life to God and to be baptized for some time.
Bill had a cousin named Orville Philbeck who was the only member of his family who had a college education and would become a second major influence. Bill had never lived close to his cousin, but knew he went to Freed Hardeman to become a preacher. Bill knew he wanted to be a preacher, so he also went for his first two years of college to Freed Hardeman.
While at Freed Hardeman, Bill studied under N. B. Hardeman himself. Hardeman had travelled to the Holy Land (by boat!) and drew heavily on his memories of the Holy Land in his classes; Bill was inspired to travel to Israel himself, although it took him 30 years before he took his first trip. Importantly, Bill met his wife, Jerry (Geraldine), whose family was from the Dallas area. They moved to Abilene Christian College together to complete their undergraduate degrees, largely influenced by the fact that his cousin Orville Philbeck was teaching there. Bill and Jerry were married right after they graduated from ACU.
They moved to Florida and Bill began teaching at Florida Christian College. In his first year there, he met and influenced some young men who have had a lasting impact on the Kingdom. Among his students was Tony Ash, later professor of Bible at ACU and author of books about C. S. Lewis; Neil Lightfoot, a New Testament studies scholar and author at ACU; Forest McCann, professor of English and author at ACU; and Doyle Gillum, a missionary and later Dean at Sunset School of Preaching. The five of them were close friends for many years, but all four of his students have passed on, Tony Ash having died most recently at the end of 2017. Bill says he is a bit surprised to have outlived these four dear godly friends.
Early in his career, Bill’s biggest struggle was whether he wanted to be a preacher or a teacher. Thinking he needed to try full-time preaching before he decided, he left Florida and preached at the 39th and Flora Church of Christ in Kansas City, and then for a church in Louisville, Kentucky. During those years as minister, he decided that he would be a better teacher than a minister. Desiring a Ph.D. to teach at university, he and the family “pulled up stakes” and moved to the University of Iowa.
After Bill finished his Ph.D. at the University of Iowa, he interviewed at Oklahoma Christian College and Abilene Christian College. In those days, men with doctorates were scarce, so he thought he could have had the job at either one. He chose Abilene because he had graduated with his Bachelors Degree from ACU, and his cousin Orville was now on the faculty.
The first few years that he taught at Abilene, he was also the preacher for the Woodlawn Church. There were four men who shared the ministry there and Bill was the pulpit minister. But at heart he was a teacher. After many years as Head of the Bible Department, he accepted the role of Academic Dean and was amused that he had become his cousin Orville Philbeck’s boss. Bill later became the Academic Vice-President at ACU.
When Bill began to teach Bible at ACU, he dreamed about going to the Holy Land. However, it took years before he would make his first trip. His job opened the way for Bill and Jerry to take tour groups, and over the years he’s taken over twenty groups through the Holy Land. Because of Bill’s position at ACU, it was easy to recruit groups (never over twenty members). During one tour, he and his wife took students to the first archeological dig at Caesarea Philippi. Those trips to the Holy Land with students have been choice experiences of Bill’s life.
On two occasions he took an ACU Board of Trustees member (and their family) to the Holy Land, just by themselves. The two trustees whom he took later became the two men in charge of fund raising for a planned new Bible building.
During his years of travel in the Holy Land, Bill collected ancient oil lamps. Some of these lamps date back to New Testament times and before. As part of the new Bible building at ACU, some beautiful display cases were built to display nearly all his collection in the “Hall of the Servants.” (see photo)
Bill and Jerry moved from Abilene to Amarillo after retirement to be near their daughter Becky Liles and her husband Ted, as well as their son Eric who lived in New Mexico. Bill enjoyed teaching Bible classes at Central and at The Craig, the” ideal retirement community,” according to Bill. For the last twelve years, he has lived at the Craig and has cultivated many good friendships. He still enjoys “88” parties twice a week. (He has a table in his living room that has been used for dominoes for 40 years!)
Bill has thousands of slides he’s made of the Holy Lands which he shared with several Amarillo congregations. He eventually determined to stop teaching because he didn’t want to continue to teach after his memory started “slipping.” However, Bill has a very high level of mental alertness. He exercises every day and has for forty years. He has been blessed with extremely good health for more than 90 years.
Bill Humble continues to be a servant devoted to God.
[As told to and written by Mevanee and Phill Parmer]
Marie is from Abernathy (same as Lanny, she said.) She grew up in a family of seven children. She grew up on a farm outside Abernathy, her parents were farmers.
She remembers hoeing cotton when she was a kid. In her childhood she faithfully attended Abernathy Church of Christ with her family. She remembers having some good teachers in church and has good memories of church while growing up. Her parents and church were very influential. Her three brothers all died of a heart attack when in their fifties. She and her younger sister Betty are only two left.
She met her husband in Lubbock while she was working and going to Tech. They had five children - three boys and two girls. She did lots of cooking for her kids and their friends - lots of spaghetti and beans (not at the same meal). Her husband died about seventeen years ago. Her oldest child, Lynette, died of cancer several years ago at age fifty-three. Marie later married Woodrow Killingsworth. They were married about ten years before his passing. She says he was a good Christian man.
Her daughter Celeste lives close to her, takes good care of her and brings her food. Marie says she doesn’t cook any more. Her youngest child, Mike, also brings her food. Marie says that both are good cooks and take turns bringing her food and more than she can eat.
Kiwi, her cat, is a very special friend/companion. He provides lots of entertainment and interaction.
Marie, a member at Central for 35 years, is unable to attend services now due to mobility issues and doesn’t want to be a bother to anyone.
She says that she has always had her faith and gets strength from church. Her advice to kids today: “They need to realize that it is important to go to church.”
Influential people at Central: Dale and Joan Williams, Warlick and JoAnn Thomas, Steve and Judy Rogers.
Marie was delightful to visit with/ interview.
[As told to and written by Janice Grant]
Jack Lee is a great man who has made a huge impact wherever he has been and whatever he has done. He was born on August 1, 1919 to Joseph and Myrtle Louis Parkins Lee in Brownwood, TX. Joseph is a descendant of William Lee, Robert E. Lee’s brother, and has seen photographs of his father with his direct descendants. Jack graduated in 1937 from Clovis High School in New Mexico. Jack’s parents greatly influenced his life, always making sure that he ran around with the right people – and Jack obeyed them in this and all other areas.
Jack was taught to be a Christian by his family, including his brothers, sisters, and both sets of grandparents who helped to start the church in Eden, TX. His heritage of faith has helped him to always look on the bright side and to be a man of honor and honesty.
Jack and his first wife, Nola Francis were married on July 17, 1940. Just three days after his marriage to Nola, he was baptized. Jack said, “Baptism changed the way I looked at life.” For example, he learned to pay attention to what was said at church; learned to “get all the facts” and not gossip; learned to do what is right; and learned that there is a bond with Christians that isn’t found with other people. He said that just as he was taught to be a Christian by his family and his wives, he wants to do the same for others. He and Nola began attending Central on January 20, 1941.
During their marriage, Jack served in the military and tells of a time when he was stationed in North Carolina. Nola came to stay there and lived in a boarding house “that was stricter than the military!” Nola even had assigned bathroom times in her little home. On July 17, 1950, after a six week battle with cancer, Nola went home to be with Jesus within ten minutes of the time they were married ten years earlier.
During Jack’s Army life, he attended church regularly. In Little Rock, he reports that seven officers and seven enlisted men rented a hotel room so they could have church services. He said all soldiers had access to a chaplain and services with his fellow soldiers were always uplifting. In Germany, he attended church where Mozart had.
While serving in WWII, an injury caused Jack some problems, but he was never sent home. Assigned to an artillery unit at the front, one day an officer drove up and said he was looking for Master Sargent Jack Lee. Jack said, “That’s me” whereby the officers told him that he was being reassigned to his unit. Jack responded that he already had a job. After confirming his serial number, the officer told Jack that “you’re coming with me.” That is how Jack became attached to Patton’s 3rd Army as a combat engineer. While in Germany, Jack made many friends as a result of learning some German as a child from his mother. Because of his ability to speak the language and his interest in them, the locals enjoyed and befriended him. Jack came home in 1946.
In 1950, Jack was called back into service during the Korean War. He was part of the 95th Engineers under control of the Air Force. A bout of pneumonia kept him from being sent to Korea and he spent the war repairing runways and training engineers for Korea. Slated to be promoted to officer status, Jack declined because he didn’t want to bunk with the officers from Amarillo. He was discharged in 1952.
Following his military service, Jack was a railroader. He served as secretary for the General Manager in Amarillo.
Jack’s wife, Nola, had a Catholic friend, Mary Francis Lyons, whom she had led to Christ a number of years earlier. On May 5, 1952, he and Mary Francis were married. Jack’s love for her was obvious as he spoke of the life they shared, the work Mary Francis did, and the service and sacrifices she made to serve God. At the end of her life, Mary Francis resided at Childers Place and would often ask Jack to “sing songs that he would sing when he was in the shower.” One of the songs went like this: “Good morning dear teachers with bright shining faces.” Mary Francis passed into Heaven on July 23, 2015.
When asked what he would like to tell younger generations, Jack said the following: “Live a life of honesty. Never tell lies, it hurts your credibility. Get the fact before making snap decisions and don’t gossip. Do what is right.” He also noted that, “you have to be an octopus to put on support hose.”
Finally, the message of faith (legacy) Jack Lee would like to leave behind is this: “I want to be known as a man who always told the truth. Where the Lord is, that is where I want to be!”
That just about says it all!
[As told to Kim Scott, written by Gina Newton]
Joe was born near Shamrock, Texas on October 5, 1926. His parents and older siblings were members of the Church of Christ but were not active for a while. They moved to Hedley, Texas and the family rededicated themselves to the church. He and all of his siblings are still faithful today.
In Hedley, the family lived on a farm along with some other families. Joe became friends with a little black boy named Huey that lived on the farm. They were best friends. Huey had a speech impediment. They played with each other and loved each other so much that Joe even began to speak like Huey. It was so second nature that he would forget and get in trouble for speaking that way at home.
Joe’s journey of faith began by just being around relatives who were faithful. People at church and his older siblings were all examples of Christ to him. Joe’s life was pretty good for a family living in the depression so there were really no spiritual obstacles to overcome. His mom said that Joe was a loner although he enjoyed playing with friends. Joe has had some wonderful friends but he still enjoys his alone time. His faith in God was a comfort to him when his parents, wife, and friends passed away.
Joe was married to his wife, Grozella Ruth, for 59 years. They had one son that they adopted. He is now 60 years old and lives with Joe.
Joe enlisted in the army and trained at Fort Sill. He then served in Korea for nine months. In the service he made life-long friends that he still keeps up with. He worked for Texico for 26 years but left because of the pollution and the effect it had on his health. He went to truck driving school in Amarillo and drove a truck for 11 years.
Joe would like young people to know that the people of his generation were always grateful for the little things like when relatives brought sorghum syrup over. He loved his grandmother and learned a lot from her. She was born during the Civil War and survived some tough times. He hopes young people will learn from the older generations. Joe thinks that Glory will just be indescribable.
[As told to and written by Dale and Donna Lowe]
Many may not be aware that our own Nova Vaughn is a swinger. It all began when she and her family moved from their home near Lone Star to the new property in western Deaf Smith County near Friona. Nova was the 5th of 7 children born to Jim and Alta Wyly. Jim spent the summer of 1927 building a chicken coop, that he lived in while he built the box and strip house, dug the well and built a windmill for his family. In September of ’27, the family moved, and Jim immediately built Nova a rope swing with a wooden seat to hang from the bottom rung of the windmill, and Nova spent lots of time on that swing.
In the year 1929 crops were in and the harvest was good. Alta, Nova’s mother, had a wonderful garden and canned food for her family. Because things were going so well Jim was able to purchase a short-bed truck, a tractor and a combine. The family went to church on October 20th in the new truck with a cane-bottom chair on the bed of the truck. On the way home Jim sat in that chair holding Nova while his oldest daughter drove; and Nova’s eight- and ten-year-old brothers rode in the back as well. There was a malfunction causing the truck to veer off the road and rolled over. Jim and Nova were trapped under the bed of the truck for an extended period. The older daughter had gone for help and finally, neighbors came to help. They brought a mattress and raised the truck bed. Father and daughter were pulled out and laid on the mattress. An ambulance eventually came to take them to the hospital in Hereford. In the hospital Nova remembers crying for her mother, who came to her side, but her father would call her mom back to talk to her. At that time, he told her all he could about what needed to be done for the farm. Jim passed away that day leaving Alta expecting her 7th child. Nova was taken home and the doctor created a sling support over her bed for her to give her hip and pelvis a chance to heal. The prognosis was not good and the doctor said Nova might not walk again. After 3 weeks in that sling she began to walk holding on to things around the house. I guess the Great Physician had other plans for Nova.
Nova remembers that her mother’s brother and his wife came to stay for 3 months to help with the farm and family. Wilson, the oldest son, quit school to help with the farm. The family had livestock, horses and chickens, and with the help of family and friends they were able to keep the farm going.
Nova’s Faith Journey started at home with a Mother that was her greatest role model; Alta never lost her faith and trusted that God would take care of them. Her mother was an outstandingly strong woman. Nova saw her mother’s sincerity and love for God, so it was easy for her to follow her Mom’s lead. She remembers wonderful church services, singings and dinners on the ground where the men would bring out benches to share meals outside. Like her mother, Nova is a gentle woman, but also a force to be reckoned with, as you can still see in the small photo below.
Alta’s sister, Aunt Minnie and Uncle Everett were among those that showed Nova how to serve others. The boys watched Uncle Everett to learn about working the farm. Aunt Minnie cared for Nova like her own; when she got things for her daughters, Nova was included.
At the age of 16 Nova completed high school and went to college in Lubbock. She was amazed because there was electricity everywhere, running water and indoor plumbing, too. Her desire was to become a teacher. She attended a wonderful small congregation, 17th & N., in Lubbock. She met her first husband at that time. They married and after a year of teaching in public school, he became a minister. They served congregations in Lampasas, Seagraves and Turkey before they moved to Amarillo, then to Ft. Worth and Lubbock. During the 30 years they served together the couple, was blessed with 3 children Ira, Mevanee, and Alan. Nova recalls her time as a mother with her children as some of the happiest times in her life.
In 1973, while in Lubbock Nova went to work for the Texas Department of Human Services in Child Protective Services, and later became a contract manager and co-worker with John Noyes. She was transferred to Amarillo in 1979. In 1990 after retiring, she was invited by missionary families from Kitale, Kenya to move to Africa to teach their children. Nova began a new adventure after retiring and moving to the mission field. During her time in Kenya she was able to help interview parents and staff for the new children’s home.
When she returned to the states, CRF invited her to join the Board of Directors. She became reacquainted with Ken Vaughn who was also on the board of CRF. Nova had served God as a single woman for 18 years by that time and was happy in her role. Ken had other ideas. They were married in December of ‘92. In 1993 Ken joined Nova as she returned to the mission field in Kitale. Ken became indispensable because he could do just about anything. He served as “PrinciPal” for the school. They returned to Amarillo and traveled between Amarillo and Irving for a time but doing yard work in the summer in Irving convinced Ken to live in Amarillo full time!
In 1997 a church in Abilene, Texas, needed a mature couple with experience in Africa. Ken and Nova went to Kampala, Uganda to relieve missionaries on furlough. Nova helped organize a lending library and brought Christian Relief Fund to that area. The sponsorship program began with 25 children and now has over 100 in the program. After a year in Kampala, they came home to Amarillo. A little later, they went back to Mbale, Uganda, where Ken helped serve as the supervisor for building the Messiah Theological Institute.
In 2005 Ken and Nova were honored at Abilene Christian University Lectureship for their work in the mission field, supporting themselves during their time overseas,
Nova has had a wonderful life full of adventure serving our Lord. She would like her Legacy for Central to be “Keep on going, no matter what happens, keep your eyes and faith and trust in Him and His people.”
As she considered Joshua 4:21-24 her stone of remembrance would say
[As told to and written by Suzanne Couch]