Birthdays, especially one thru five, seem to be very important. Then it is 10, 15, 16, 18, and 21 – to be followed by increments of five or ten years. When I had my 55th birthday, I recall one person saying to me, “You are now middle age.” With that, I asked, “And how many people do you know who are 110?”
I remember well such birthdays as 15 (junior high school graduation), 18 (high school graduation), 21 (entering my senior year of college) and my first time to vote. Never a more important time to vote in the United States than this year.
August 19, Kitty celebrated a significant birthday – one of the milestones in life. Our daughter, Elizabeth and her husband, Steve, came from Alabama. Our son, Mark, came from here in West Virginia. First granddaughter Stephanie, who has completed her Masters Degree in Piano Pedagogy, came from Louisiana. First grandson, John, came from Alabama and second grandson, Brody, from Ohio.
Two granddaughters, Emily and Megan, because of college commitments in Tennessee and Alabama, were not able to come. We had a tremendous party – several events the whole weekend.
Sunday, March 30, 1952, I left Anderson, Indiana at 5:30 a.m., with a group of older graduate students from the School of Theology at Anderson College, for a trip to Springfield, Ohio, to visit the First Church of God at 1201 Maiden Lane.
Following the morning service listening to Dr. C. E. Byers, we had an afternoon meeting with this great preacher and pastor. I was 22 and would be graduated from Anderson College on Wednesday, June 11, 1952. Then Dr. Byers said, “I’ll need one of you to preach in the evening service with about 500 attending.” They all replied, “Bill will do it.”
Kitty was in church that day and has no recollection of my being there. Her plans included marrying a doctor. Her sister, Patricia, would probably marry the preacher. You guessed it, Pat married an outstanding pathologist and they live in the mountains of Colorado. Kitty thought a preacher would be the last person on her list. And I was.
After preaching in other states, West Virginia and the International Camp Meeting of the Church of God in Anderson, Indiana, it was time for the meeting in Springfield, Ohio, and the life-changing experience of meeting the beautiful and talented girl I had always dreamed about.
I sent her a dozen red roses for her 21st birthday on August 19, 1953, to thank her for being so kind to me while I was at her church, July 26 – August 2. After she got the roses, she sent a letter telling me she was coming to West Virginia during the State Camp Meeting of the Church of God on our church campgrounds, then at Cross Lanes. I immediately called, “Please, don’t come that will be a busy time for me.” She replied, “I’ll see you in West Virginia.”
My Bible in hand, suit and tie on, about to step into the tabernacle to deliver my sermon then I heard a car born blowing and a lady’s voice, with some volume, “Hi, Bill!” There was pretty “Miss Kitty” waving with a big smile. Preaching was not easy that day.
All I have been, done and accomplished and still manage to get done, I owe most of it to the most beautiful, most exciting, most talented and most wonderful person I have ever met. I have tried to live by Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God … and all these other things will be added to you.” And thanks to a dozen red roses.
Dr. William “Bill” Ellis of Scott Depot is a weekly syndicated columnist who writes on a wide variety of subjects. Ellis has spent 25 years as a radio and television broadcaster and as a guest speaker and teacher on college campuses.