I was blessed with great women and men of faith in my life as a child. This entry, from June 7, 2011, is about one of them.
A great man died yesterday. Brother Alex Humphrey passed away in Florida with his loving family family bedside. Alex might not have been an international icon but that does not preclude him from giant status. He was my Bible professor at York College and a more knowledgeable scholar I've never known. He taught me Hebrews but while expounding on the Word, he taught me and a generation of YC students a whole lot about life. He knew the Scriptures but more important to me as a kid, he lived the teachings of Jesus. He was plain spoken and you knew where he stood but he did it with a deep down gentleness that many preachers and educators lack. A piece of York College died when Alex Humphrey took his last breath on Monday.
But, there was more to the man than just an academician or minister. He and his lovely wife, Ruth, were like an extra set of parents to me. I grew up in a unique church where almost all of the adults were connected to the college. In fact, there was no Church of Christ in York, Nebraska until York College, which had been closed for a number of years, was reopened by a new faculty and administration. Most of the members in that small Midwestern congregation were southerners educated at colleges like Harding, Abilene Christian, and David Lipscomb and who came to staff the college. The parents looked out for each others' kids and although unrelated by blood, we became extended families. None of the parents were divorced, all the moms cooked, and they all had a universal blessing to correct the others' children should the need arise. I remembering staying with the Humphreys and their son, Phil, in their gracious home when my folks traveled. Ironically, now as a Houstonian, I struggled to decipher their Texas accents! But they looked after me as their own in my mom's and dad's absence. I just don't think you see that commonality of purpose much anymore in churches, especially in larger locales. Alex helped me maintain my bearings when I wandered and my folks did the same for many of my church contemporaries. I know Phil is grieving today with the loss of his beloved father. He'll find out, as my siblings and I did when our folks went to be with the Lord, how much love his father left behind. But then, it's really no surprise. Alex Humphrey was simply part of a mighty large family, a family that has lost one of its remaining patriarchs.
Applicable quote of the day:
"Great men, unknown to their generation, have their fame among the great who have preceded them, and all true worldly fame subsides from their high estimate beyond the stars."
Henry David Thoreau
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