By Ralphine Major

It was another beautiful Sunday morning.  A day to honor mothers.  A day to celebrate graduates.  We had just taken our seats when the lady in front of us turned to ask, “Did you hear about Angela?”

“No,” I answered.  “What about her?”

“She had a massive stroke and died,” the lady answered.

The words pierced like a dagger as news of a sudden death usually do.  I glanced over toward the right-hand aisle where we would usually see Angela making her way to the choir.

A church, a college campus, several communities, and an entire East Tennessee region came together to celebrate Dr. Angela Easterday Holder’s life.  Pastor Emeritus Dr. James McCluskey recalled the day Angela was born.  A 100-voice choir dressed all in black wore red roses, Angela’s favorite.  They sang the beautiful “Thou, O Lord.”  A soloist sang “How Can I Keep From Singing,” which was so perfect for Angela’s service.  Carson-Newman students and alumni gathered down front and closed with a beloved hymn, “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.”

I have learned much about the music professor in the weeks following her death.  Angela had prayed that a member of their Connect class would receive a kidney.  That week, he received one of hers.  She was an organ donor.  Angela’s father summed up her 52 years on this earth with a statement printed on the bottom of the program:  “Angela was a blessing to all who knew her.”  She was.  Dr. Holder was known to ask her students, “Is happiness abounding?”  Those words reflect so much of her personality.

I miss her.  I miss her smile.  I miss her sweet voice and her presence.  I can see her onstage in Easter’s Living Pictures drama saying with deliberate conviction, “I find no fault in him!”  Though no longer heard on this earth, Angela’s, amazing voice is now part of heaven’s choir.  Only days ago, we were watching the sky after a storm.  The dark clouds gave way to a most unusual sight.  A small area opened revealing a bright light that looked as though it went straight up into heaven.  As we watched, mother mentioned Angela.  It has been several weeks since her death, but Angela’s words linger.  May we all find the “happiness abounding” that she did.  Angela would want us to.