David Kierzek Theresa C Davis Edward F Storer Ralph Rader DP&L to stick with planned closings Preventing tax season identity theft 4-H awards 11 local scholarships Peebles Elementary holds Spirit Week Humane Society to hold Radio Auction Local business partners find historical treasure in old bank building DP&L employees meet with union leadership GE-Peebles Test Operation joins the campaign about Distracted Driving North Adams Elementary recognizes February Students of the Month Senior Profile: Sydney Michael Stars will shine for the 34th annual C-103 All-Star Game NAHS Track/XC host Shamrock Shuffle 5K Associated Press names All-Southeast District Teams Senior Profile: Hannah Howard Nice to finally be a small part of March Madness The tractor has always been special Jimmy Nelson Kathryn Boldman James E Downs Manchester grad enjoys a “Super” Experience Taking Adams County patriotism to the state capitol John P Sininger Jo Ann Hayslip Harvey U Schrock Eunice G. Burgess Senior Profile: Kaulen St Michael Cox Racing returns to Brushcreek on April 2 Southern Hills Athletic Conference holds Winter Sports Awards ceremony County provides multiple walking venues Adams County parks are tobacco-free Rhoads Memorial 5K Run/Walk is April 9 Peebles Elem. Staff of the Month Floyd E Maddy Raymond A Holt Derrick Poe Spencer E McFarland Mintie F Rogers Roberta Eylar Big Time Wrestling coming to NAHS Carl Tomlin CTC students help with storm clean-up Opening the door for high-tech jobs Jack R Slyger Thomas Stratton Jr Eastern Lady Warriors headed to Final Four Senior Profile: Logan Rogers Southern Hills Athletic Conference names 2016-17 All-Conference Basketball Teams Winchester PD continues assault on drugs Alonso joins Defender staff Sheriff to set up outpost in Manchester Johnson named OEDA Membership Chairperson Sherman E Young Ruth Jackman ‘Kitten Season’ comes to Ohio Manchester Council votes to disband PD Olde Wayside Inn under new management Two overdose on heroin Senior Profile: Ethan Parrett Adams/Brown Youth League holds postseason tourney Three nights of pain Furious rally falls short, Lady Devils again eliminated in Div. III district finals, 45-42 Oscar Moore Barbara J Finnegan Ohio Senate and House honor Miss Ohio USA Michael Eldridge Frances Towner Thelma R Williamson BREAKING NEWS: Manchester council votes to eliminate police department Before all dogs go to heaven Adaptive Bikes delivered in Adams County Adams County Junior Fair Market Hog Identification plans announced for 2017 Local couple takes ownership of two local businesses Jo Hanson to retire after nearly 50 years in banking Sierra Club, hero or villain? Greyhounds, Devils are runners-up in SHAC Tournaments Harold L Purdin Senior Profile: Jacob Wickerham 98-year old author publishes first book Early March storm packs destructive punch Jeeps rally in second half to end the Peebles season How about some post season awards? Thanks for all the great sports coverage PHS Principal hopes to expand students’ world view When spring becomes a promise Greg Lorenz Clay shoots the lights out, shoots down Greyhounds’ season Senior Profile: Savannah McFarland Devils put up a good fight, but fall to Portsmouth in sectional final, 50-43 Second half comeback sends Lady Devils to district finals for third straight year Butts honored by Southeast District Athletic Board North Adams Elementary holds Random Acts of Kindness Week Chester W Eyre BREAKING NEWS: March makes its entrance with force WUES kicks off Right to Read Week with guest readers WUHS students see Aronoff show on the life of Edgar Allan Poe Local high school seniors winners of Wendy’s Heisman Awards

The living will lay it to his heart

This is the first of a three part series about Willard and his wife, Helen. Willard enrolled in hospice at age 76. He had suffered a catastrophic stroke several years earlier. People frequently ask, “How can you stand to work around death and dying all the time? Doesn’t it depress you?” But they don’t understand. It’s such a privilege when someone shares with you honestly from his or her heart and frequently we receive more from patients and families than we could ever give.

I’ve learned so much about living from those who are dying. I understand why King Solomon wrote, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to a house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.” (Ecclesiastes 7:2) Helen and Willard have given me much to “lay to my heart” and I thank God for them.

Willard and Helen had an unusual courtship. Willard wrote to Helen for several years before ever meeting her. He finally decided it was time to make the trip from New Boston, Ohio to Wild Cat, West Virginia,a trip which resulted in a 49- year marriage and six children, a pretty prosperous adventure.

Willard was a union carpenter and stated, “I loved to build things, houses, cabinets, furniture.” He kept building even after retiring. He built several steeples for churches. Helen proclaimed, “He did it for God.”

Willard enthusiastically and earnestly served God, but that did not preclude a good sense of humor. He told me about working in a small privately owned cabinet shop. The owner had a bad temper and would stomp through the shop kicking things. One day Willard and his coworkers filled a wooden crate with nuts and bolts and strategically placed it on the shop floor. Sure enough, his boss, true to form, lost his temper that day and came storming through the shop. I surmised the outcome by the big grin on Willard’s face. He was enjoying the prank all over again.

Willard took his Christian calling very seriously. Many would consider him a fanatic, but that was okay with Willard, because he served God, not men. Helen reminisced about living beside a scrap yard in Cincinnati for a short time. They were struggling financially and Willard (before becoming a Christian) stole some scrap metal at night and sold it back to the same scrap yard the following day. Willard testified that several years after becoming a Christian, God told him to make restitution. Willard believed that when God speaks you better obey. So he contacted the owner of the scrap yard and offered to return the money. But the owner declined, stating he had known what Willard was doing all along and that he had overlooked it because he knew he was struggling financially. What an inspiring example of truth encountering mercy.

But it was God’s grace and mercy that transformed Willard’s heart. One day, Willard pointed to his Bible lying on the table beside his bed, and invited me to look through it. I noticed it was filled with notes and highlighted passages. Willard was obviously a student of God’s Word. He shared some of his favorite passages and then the story of his spiritual conversion. As he talked, I realized how similar our stories were and that stubbornness was one of our shared traits (pointed out by Helen).

Then Willard stated, “I just couldn’t believe that He would love someone like me.” Tears filled his eyes and also mine, for those were my very own sentiments when I first encountered God’s unconditional love, mercy and grace some 34 years earlier. Words can’t describe the joy that filled both our hearts as we talked about God’s goodness and grace. With tears in his eyes, Willard reached up, placed his hand around the back of my neck and said, “I really like you. You’re alright.” Now do you see why sometimes, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to a house of feasting?” When was the last time you were profoundly moved and inspired at a dinner party?

Loren Hardin is a social worker with Southern Ohio Medical Center – Hospice and can be reached by email at hardinl@somc.org or by phone at 740-356-2525.

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Straight Paths

Loren Hardin

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