SOME WHO LEFT US IN 2020
The wise man Solomon wrote: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a). He further observed: “No one has power over the spirit to retain the spirit, and no one has power over the day of death” (Ecclesiastes 8:8). Truly, “it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
Likely during 2020 every one of my readers lost a loved one, a close friend, a neighbor, or a fellow member of the Lord’s church. Our daughter-in-law’s father, John Carson, a good man, a genuine Christian, left us in March. Almost 350,000 Americans died from the Covid-19 virus. From various causes, a number of well-known people passed into eternity. It can be sobering to pause and reflect for a moment on the names of some of these people. From different walks of life and in no particular order, I have listed below some of those who left us in 2020. You will think of others.
From the fields of Business and Government:
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, member of the U. S. Supreme Court
John Lewis, U. S. Representative from Georgia and civil rights activist
Herman Cain, businessman and one time presidential candidate
Jack Welch, businessman and longtime Chairman and CEO of General Electric
Chuck Yeager, American astronaut (included here since I do not have another category into which to fit him)
From the Entertainment field:
Charlie Daniels, Country Music entertainer and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame
Harold Reid, bass singer for the Hall of Fame Country Music act, The Statler Brothers
Alex Trebek, longtime host of the TV game show “Jeopardy”
Hugh Downs, longtime radio and TV broadcaster, analyst, and game show host
Eddie Van Halen, Rock musician and songwriter
Little Richard, Rock & Roll star
Charley Pride, Country Music star and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame
Jimmy Capps, popular and highly respected Nashville session guitarist who played on hundreds of country and pop recordings
Kirk Douglas, longtime movie star
Olivia DeHaviland, longtime movie star
Kenny Rogers, Country and Pop Music star and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame
Dawn Wells, TV star of “Gilligan’s Island” (Mary Ann)
From the Sports world:
Bobby Morrow, winner of three Gold Medals at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia; track star at Abilene Christian College in Abilene, TX
Whitey Ford, star pitcher for the New York Yankees in the 1950s and 1960s, spending all sixteen years of his major league career with the Yankees, member of the Baseball Hall of Fame
Paul Hornung, star football player at Notre Dame and in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers, winner of the Heisman Trophy in 1956
Johnny Majors, outstanding University of Tennessee football player and later longtime and successful coach of the Vols, with additional stints at the University of Pittsburg and other schools, runner-up to Paul Hornung for the Heisman Trophy in 1956 (interesting that both men died the same year)
Kobe Bryant, star of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, went straight to the pros from high school
Lindy McDaniel, longtime major league pitcher with the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, and other teams, a member of the church of Christ who also preached, served as an elder in the church, editor of his publication “Pitching for the Master,” responsible for converting several major leaguers to Christ and His church.
Phil Niekro, longtime major league pitcher (24 seasons), most with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, famous for his knuckle ball, member of the Baseball Hall of Fame
Other members of the Baseball Hall of Fame who passed away in 2020: Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Joe Morgan, Al Kaline (broke into the major leagues as an 18 year old kid straight out of high school), Tom Seaver.
Though not in baseball’s Hall of Fame, Don Larsen, who pitched the only perfect game in a World Series game (no hits, no walks, no one allowed on base due to an error; 27 men to the plate, 27 consecutive outs; game five of the 1956 World Series against the (then) Brooklyn Dodgers; game caught by Yogi Berra, who ran and leaped into “Big” Don’s arms when the last out was made). Don Larsen died January 1, 2020.
According to the “Friends of the Restoration” Facebook page, 147 gospel preachers passed away in 2020. Among these were:
Cliett Goodpasture, longtime professor of Bible and Church History at David Lipscomb College, son of B. C. Goodpasture, longtime editor of the Gospel Advocate
Jerry O. Davidson
Jimmy Allen, well-known evangelist, conducted over 1,400 gospel meetings and was responsible for 40,000 to 50,000 responses to the invitation of Christ, including at least 10,000 baptisms; also taught Bible for many years at Harding University in Searcy, AR
Marlin Connelly, Jr., longtime professor of Bible and Speech at David Lipscomb College, preached at Bellevue and Hillsboro churches in Nashville
Tom Olbricht, longtime Bible teacher at Abilene Christian University and later Chairman of the Religion Department at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA
Artie Collins, longtime preacher in Tennessee and Alabama
Charles Mullins, preached for 25 years for the Kingwood Heights church in Murfreesboro, TN
Charles B. Hodge, longtime preacher in Fort Worth and Dallas
Martel Pace, longtime preacher in Montgomery, AL and professor of Bible at Faulkner University
Wayne Jackson, Bible scholar, editor, writer, author of dozens of books, masterful preacher
(I knew all of the preceding men and counted all of them as friends, some as very good friends).
Year by year and almost day by day we are reminded of the old gospel song, “We are going down the valley one by one, with our faces toward the setting of the sun.” Where will we be when we get to where we are going?
January 5, 2021