Bag of Randomness for Thursday, February 22, 2018

  • The Mineral Wells community lost one of the true good guys when County Judge Mickey West died a little less than a week ago.
    • He’ll be buried today and I wish my back was strong enough for me to attend his funeral. He was the stepfather of one of my closest friends, someone I serve with on a scholarship committee. If memory serves correct, Judge West was my very first coach, it was for the soccer team the Orange Crush which practiced at Cullen Grimes Elementary. Judge West was the epitome of the small town man who loved and served the community.
      • He was a Palo Pinto County reserve deputy, volunteer fireman, fourth responder, basketball referee, radio sports announcer for Mineral Wells High School and surrounding schools, stadium announcer for the Mineral Wells High School Rams, Mineral Wells High School Booster Club president, helped to create the “Teen Club” for area youth, city councilman, banker, Palo Pinto County auditor, Palo Pinto County judge and served two terms as the President of the Texas Association of Counties.
        • When I think of high school sporting events, it’s his voice I hear in the background.
    • I remember the first time he ran for office. I was home from my freshman year of college for Christmas break and his stepson invited us to watch the 1995 NCAA football championship game (Nebraska killed Florida in the Fiesta Bowl). There were only three, maybe four of us college kids over, but Mr. West asked for our vote and provided us with the paperwork so we could mail in our ballot. It impressed me how hard he was working to get every vote he could. I think that was only the second time I ever voted.
    • When I think of that Nebraska team, a sense of melancholy sets in because the first thing I think of is backup quarterback and devout Christian Brook Berringer. I was certain he was going to be a great NFL quarterback, but he never got his chance because he died in a private plane crash just two days before the draft.
      • There’s a statue of Berringer outside the Nebraska football stadium, but I think it’s odd it’s in front of a William Jennings Bryan quote, “Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice.” His destiny was death by plane crash, he didn’t have a choice in the matter. Same thing with Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper, especially Valens who won that plane seat by chance – a coin toss.
  • Billy Graham
    • To somewhat age myself, I loved it when Billy Graham was on ‘Larry King Live’. Larry would often ask questions I wondered about, all the “gray” areas of Christianity. At least to me they were gray areas. I always admired Billy answering with a simple “I don’t know.” So many Christians feel pressured to provide some sort of answer for fear of sounding unsure of his or her faith. Yet, here was the epitome of a man of Christian faith no one could question saying he didn’t know the answer.
    • I always thought his connection to Dallas was interesting. The very first public event held at Texas Stadium was a Billy Graham Crusade. From 1953 to 2009 he maintained membership with First Baptist Church Dallas.
    • I keep hearing he was the counselor to every president since Truman, but I don’t think that’s true. Graham’s autobiography, which I own and have read, begins with his meeting with then acting President Truman. Truman wasn’t really a fan and he felt Graham abused the privilege of meeting with the President, quoting him without authorization, and made a spectacle of kneeling and praying on the White House lawn. Truman never asked him back and Graham was embarrassed and humbled. He later had the opportunity to apologize years later. Read about it here. All that to say, I don’t think he actually spiritually counseled Truman and he doesn’t mention doing so like he wrote about doing so with other presidents.
    • I enjoyed Graham’s autobiography, especially as a fan of presidential history. It was neat reading how he first met each president. For instance, I believe he met Clinton at a hospital when he was Governor of Arkansas, they were both visiting a mutual friend.
    • His wife, Ruth, died in June of 2007. I believe there’s a stat about the surviving spouse of a senior only being two years. I was quite surprised he lived a little over ten years after she died. Back in 2007, I posted an article about Ruth’s casket. Their son, Franklin, purchased it along with Billy’s from Louisiana State Penitentiary. They cost $200 a piece, made of plywood, and were made by inmates who converted to Christianity.
    • In 2006, I posted an article about how Billy wasn’t exactly comfortable with the idea of Franklin’s vision of museum/library and final resting place. It seemed Franklin and his brother Ned had very different ideas. Even former Disney consultants helped with the design. Ruth was adamant about not wanting to be buried there.
      • “It’s a circus,” Ruth says at one point, softly. “A tourist attraction.”
      • “Bill has recently talked to me about being buried at the Billy Graham Library/Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina. However, I want to make it very clear that I am standing by our original agreement. My final wish is to be buried at the Cove. Under no circumstances am I to be buried in Charlotte, North Carolina.”
      • The library was, by all accounts, not something his father initially wanted. In fact, Billy Graham abstained when the board first voted on the idea. Though Billy has hobnobbed with the rich and mighty for more than a half-century, observers have often commented on his humility. Unlike Franklin, who collects handmade cowboy boots and leather jackets, Billy wears old suits that, as Johnny Cash once said, look like they came from a JCPenney store.
        According to Graeme Keith, the board tossed around several ideas for the library, including something like the stucco-and-tile Reagan Presidential Library in California. Finally, Franklin suggested a house resembling the one Billy grew up in, plus a barn, to be called the library. Convinced by Franklin and others that this new building would perpetuate the Gospel after he died, Billy gave it his blessing.
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2 Responses to Bag of Randomness for Thursday, February 22, 2018

  1. Ben W. says:

    Coming from a fundamentalist Pentecostal background, Billy Graham was no big deal to me growing up, because he was Baptist and they were all going to hell anyway. As I’ve grown older (and left the fundy nonsense) I’ve gained more respect for the message he presented in his later years. I am sad that his son Franklin learned so little from his father.

  2. Bizarro Big Tex says:

    Mickey West was a true community hero. Great friend, neighbor, and citizen. Loved listening to his sports reports on the local radio station. Will miss him.

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