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A Tribute To A Father

Bill Ellis

Forty-seven years ago, the body my Dad lived in for 58 years, was gently lowered into the ground in Mt. Vernon Cemetery in the heart of beautiful Teays Valley, West Virginia. Today as I have nearly every day since his death, July 1, 1963, I thought of him – again trying to do the utterly impossible task of putting into words, feeble and faltering words, all that he means to me.

He gave me and all his family priceless treasures, treasures beyond all earthly value, in both quantity and quality.

He gave me love. I never knew what it was like not to be loved by my father. That must be the reason I like to think of God as my heavenly Father. Father is a word I’ve always equated with the deepest kind of love.

He taught me the necessity and meaning of discipline. It was not necessary for Dad to correct me often for the simple reason that he always performed this chore well. The child that is deeply loved is lovingly disciplined.

He taught me to respect others and their property. A trip early one Sunday morning, before Sunday School, to a neighbor’s house to apologize for a wrong done by me and her nephew will never be forgotten. This was hard to do, but made possible by Dad’s encouraging words falling on the ears of a hesitant son. My young playmate, Rondal Browning, became a Methodist pastor.

He taught me the value and nobleness of hard work – both physical and mental, not so much by words as by example. He worked hard and lived frugally in order to provide well for his family. Without the early advantage of formal schooling, he studied long and diligently in later years. He became knowledgeable and skillful in many areas of normal living.

He encouraged me to continue in higher education which I did for more than 10 years beyond high school. He was a wise and diligent student, reading much but more from the Bible, the greatest of all books, than any other book. He was well acquainted with God’s Word.

He set a wonderful example for a growing family as to what a husband and father should be. He ruled his own house well. He ruled with love and respect. He gave us his best at all times.

He lived as an exemplary Christian and will forever be a constant challenge to me. He knew what it was to grow spiritually. He was the kind of man every pastor is thrilled to have as a member of the church.

He loved people. Their needs were his concern. He was always slow to criticize another. He taught me, “If you can’t say something good about a person, then don’t say anything.”

He taught me that true values come from God. That our best should be given for God’s work, work which he faithfully and generously supported. He admonished me often to be aware of the praise of men by saying, “Keep your feet on the ground.”

He gave me his best right to the very end. In his last days, hours, and minutes, his faith did not falter. He rejoiced to see the day when he would go to be with his wonderful Lord whom he served devotedly and devoutly. Words fail in tribute to him. One last honest word – He lived the Christian life more perfectly than any man I have ever known.

I have always hoped I could be the same caliber of man, husband, father, neighbor and Christian that he was. I learned this prayer in a public school classroom that begins “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be they name” (Matthew 6:9).

Bill Ellis, Compass Direct News

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