Sunday, September 10, 2017


Lynda and her dad Bill, July 8, 1995
I first met Bill Thompson in December 1991, only a few months after I met his daughter Lynda. I was a sophomore at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, and Lynda was a freshman. We started dating during her first few months of college. By then I knew that she grew up in Valdosta, only 45 miles from my hometown of Tifton.

During that first Christmas break that Lynda and I were getting to know each other, I agreed to come help out at her parents house when they were hosting a Christmas holiday "drop-in" style party in Valdosta. Bill was the pastor at the Valdosta First Christian Church. The Thompsons were hoping that I could help serve to help with drinks, plates . . . that sort of thing, during the Christmas party. Since Lynda was also going to be helping, maybe we could do it together? I said yes, took a night out from my Christmas break in Tifton, put on a white shirt, tied a too-long red tie around my neck and drove down to Valdosta.

It was a fun night, just wandering around the house with Lynda and occasionally asking people if they needed refills on punch. Lynda appreciated my willingness to step in and the Thompsons were thankful as well. It was a small kindness, but one that they have paid back to me many times over.

Bill performed our marriage ceremony, keeping it together when he simultaneously "gave away" his daughter and sanctified our marriage. He waited with me in his church office, down the hallway, behind the altar sanctuary at the Patterson Street church. As I am sure he had done in countless marriage ceremonies , to many other grooms before me--as we waited in his office to take out positions at the head of the aisle--he pointed out his office entrance to a nearby exit and said, calmly "There's the door. Last chance?" Of course I wasn't going anywhere. And if I had twitched in the chair, I'm dead certain he'd have stopped me before I got two steps away from his desk. But it was a special moment the two of us shared alone--away from the rest of the wedding day events. He trusted me with his daughter and I have done my best to multiply that gift and make his generosity expand beyond me, beyond the two of us, into our family, and beyond.

In all the years since 1991, Bill has counseled Lynda and I when we needed advice. He has helped us financially when we asked and many other times when we did not. He always tried to make sure that we were secure, protected, and advised in the complicated business of being an adult--something he was extremely good at being. Bill loved understanding and manipulating finances, making it work to his benefit. And while I could not share the details of that love with him, I benefited from that knowledge--even if I could not always tell him what the gas mileage I was getting on my car.

In college and when we lived in Georgia, I often enjoyed a holiday meal with Bill, Cheri, Lynda, and Matt. Once we moved to Ohio, Lynda and I were happy to repay that hospitality with annual Thanksgiving meals for Bill and Cheri to enjoy with us and their grandchildren. Coming all the way to Ohio isn't the most convenient thing to do, but I was glad that we could host holidays for them as they were always willing to do for us.

At the births of our girls, they were always ready to arrive and help as soon as everyone was able. I learned during Sarah's birth that I needed to be quicker about sending them word of the labor and birth. The first time around, I left them in the dark a bit too long and was told they were a bit anxious, waiting to hear how things had moved along. (Don't worry! I did better the next two times around.)

Bill always had a strong opinion about politics and justice--a deep reflection of his strong Christian faith, and his life's work of teaching the Gospel. He passed those values on to his daughter and reinforced them in me and demonstrated them to his grandchildren. He touched many lives in his time in the faith communities in Guyton, Valdosta, and Lawrenceville, Georgia as well as his retirement church in Cherry Log, Georgia. By extension, the lives touched through Lynda's own ministry and faith widens that circle further and further.

"May he gaze upon you, Lord, face to face, and taste the  blessedness of perfect rest."

Thank you, Bill for all that you have given to me. Your presence among us will be missed, though I will see you within Lynda every day to come.


Pou said...

Thank you so much for sharing. Bill and Cheri have meant so much to us during our time at CLCC in Cherrylog. Our prayers are with Cheri and the rest of the family,children, grandchildren, other family and friends.

Love in Christ,

Poullain and Hugh Mullin

Cheri Thompson said...

Thank you Dave. He did love numbers; something he inherited from his mom, as well as his love for music!