I knew there would come a time in this year-long journey when I would want/need to jump in my car and get home quickly, but painfully realize that it just wasn’t an option. That time has come. This past Friday afternoon a very dear friend, Louie Strange, was killed in a train accident. Louie was an extraordinary man, plain and simple.
I can’t remember when Louie was not a part of my life. I remember Louie was the first one to greet us as we walked through the doors of First Baptist Church every Sunday morning, always offering a hardy “Good morning” and a warm hug. Although I don’t recall the exact year, probably in the mid to late ‘80s, I can vividly remember Louie playing the part of “Grandpa” in our children’s Christmas program at church. From that point on, I called Louie “Grandpa” and he called me his “granddaughter,” a title I was proud to behold.
Louie was a pillar of our community. He was the biggest supporter of our youth, not just my generation but those before and after me. He could be found at every sports game, stock show, fall festival and every other activity that small Texas towns are famous for.
I’m not the only one that thinks Louie was one of a kind. The entire Kress community knew he was special. I was told that over 400 people attended the celebration of his life on Monday. Our small Baptist church could not even hold everyone. Community spirit is prevalent in small West Texas towns, and a part of that spirit comes from the common bond that we all have with people like Louie Strange. Of course I am deeply saddened by the fact that Louie is gone, but perhaps the even more painful part is that a piece of Kress has gone with him.
Louie has a wonderful family that will continue to honor his memory, his generosity, and his legacy of love. I am thankful that his lovely wife, Mary, and his two sons, Dwain and Darrell, shared Louie with me, my family, and the entire community of Kress, Texas.
Despite my sorrow, I am comforted by the fact that Louie and I will be reunited in another community. And when I get there, he will be there to greet me with a hardy “Good morning, granddaughter” and a warm hug.
To take a line from a song that my mom and pastor, Bill Fuller, used to sing, "I’ve got more to go to heaven for than I had yesterday."