A little over a week ago I attended the Life Celebration Service of my long time friend, Dr. Clinton Hale. Clinton was one of the most unusual men I have ever met. A country boy at heart he lived in Indianapolis for most his life and with only a high school education built a great church and Christian school that continues to impact the area. Clinton worked in one of the factories in his early life and when he received Christ his co-workers affectionately referred to him as "Little Jesus" if I remember the term correctly. He was 87 at his homegoing.
The field house at Villa Baptist Church was packed and the celebration lasted a little over two hours. I sat beside a college president and noticed that he dried more than a few tears during the proceedings.
Dr. Hale's son, Kevin, now pastor of a thriving church in Florida was the speaker, though other children and Brothers and Sisters said nice things.
Clinton and the wife of his youth had been married for 67 years!! Remarking on this long marriage Kevin said of his dad, "I know of no man who has loved a woman more." The Hales were a close knit family and Kevin would have known if this were not true. At least one key to a happy family is for the kids to know that dad truly loves mom. One marriage counselor says this kind of love for the wife is the best gift a man can give to his children. This kind is rare in our time.
Clinton and his wife, Jean, while being true exemplars in things religious were not spared their ration of grief. One son, David was born challenged and the Hales were advised to place him in an institution. This crushed Clinton and Jean, yet as Dr. Hale's brother Marvis said, "Clinton and Jean prayed and reached a conclusion expressed by Clinton:
"If I can trust Jesus with my soul, I can trust Jesus with my son."
David stayed home and now, past middle age is doing fine and dearly loved by all who know him. I hadn't seen David for years and as he walked in with the family following the Bagpipes and the Casket of his father, I wept as I thought of the love he has received over long years.
As Kevin was closing his sermon/eulogy he looked at his mother and then the casket and said something that should be honestly said more often at these celebrations of life. As he fought back the tears, Pastor Kevin said, "Thank you dad, you've been a good example. Thank you for loving mom so very much."
67 years and the highest praise and thanks for a man simply doing as Christ taught and loving his wife. In my book, Golden Threads and Silver Needles I quote Simone Signoret with a line that fits the Hale family:
"Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years."