By Ralphine Major

It was a big, yellow school bus that first brought us all together. One of Herb Barker’s buses made its rounds twice daily on our rural roads. It chugged down Emory, onto Stormer, then the horseshoe bend on Beeler that brought it back to Emory as it headed toward the school. The Beeler-Dunsmore residence on Stormer Road was where Mike Beeler and his siblings loaded the bus. That stop alone filled several seats.

Mike graduated from Gibbs High School in 1971, a year before my class of ‘72. We had not seen Mike since our school days until a few years ago when my brother saw him at cardiac rehab. Mike had a friendly dual with one of the nurses. He pulled for the VOLS; she cheered for her native Georgia Bulldogs. One Christmas, Mike bought enough indoor multicolored lights to decorate the inside of the rehab facility. It turned the patients’ workout place into a cheerful holiday haven. Our mother met Mike’s mother over the phone when she worked for the American Council of the Blind and was so impressed with how kind she was every time they talked. Kindness was a trait of Mike’s, too. We sat with Mike and his wife, Becky, at a Christmas party one year; and it is a time we will treasure. It was then that Mike suggested I write about Herb Barker in one of my Focus columns. I did soon afterward.

I did not see Mike that often, but I did run into him a few months ago at the Focus office. It just does not seem possible that he is gone from us. Our prayer is that Mike’s family finds comfort in their memories, love in their family and friends, and peace in knowing that Mike has reached his eternal home. What greater reward for Christians than to be in the presence of Jesus, our Saviour and Lord! In the words of the psalmist, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6 KJV)