Pastor Jim Franklin of the Flora, Indiana, Grace Brethren Church, was the author of this column, which ran in yesterday’s Carroll County (IN) Comet newspaper:
Lessons from the Heart
He’s a living legend
By Pastor James Franklin
Normally the local ministers write about spiritual things in this space. Today, I’d like to take the opportunity to remember a longtime deacon of Flora Grace Brethren church.
Harold Stayer left this life on Friday morning, June 23, 2006. His family, his church, and his community mourn his loss. Christians understand that he lives on in the presence of God. But he is gone and we miss him.
Pappy was the bravest man I ever met. He stared death directly in the face many times. He was not fearless. Harold learned to overcome his fears, first with raw courage and then with faith.
Those of you who knew Pappy knew him to be a storyteller. He lived an eventful life. He married his sweetheart Mary Humberd toward the end of the Depression. But The War quickly followed the Depression. Pappy enlisted in the US Army early in 1942. He was trained in communications and explosives.
Harold spent much of his war in the Philippines. He faced an enemy who gave no quarter and no quarter was given. The memory of those brutal fights plagued him for the rest of his life. He received the Purple Heart for wounds and the Bronze Star with Valor for bravery.
Though Pappy Stayer did more than his part during World War II, his greatest contribution is written on the hearts of men who knew him as a Scoutmaster and as the founder of Grace Brethren Boys.
This gruff, stubborn, and opinionated man trained many boys on campouts, hikes, and Scout meetings. His endurance on long hikes was legendary. Flora, Indiana has an exceptional number of Eagle Scouts. Pappy trained most of them until his legs gave out.
Some people measure a man’s success by the house he lives in, the car he drives, or the clothes he wears. Harold’s legacy is written on the hearts of men. He understood that service is more than time spent in the military. Service is an attitude, a lifestyle, an understanding that your family, your community, and your church are bigger than you.
James Franklin is pastor at Flora Grace Brethren Church.