Possum Hollar

Stories about my family

Finding Pickle, Chapter five, Pg 3, “We Family”

 FINDING PICKLE

I came home a changed man, seldom talked of Viet Nam until the summer of 2016.  As explained in the last story, after being diagnosed with PTSD, Phyllis suggested that I should confront the memories that had been suppressed for years.   She convinced me that writing could be therapeutic.  And it was.  After talking to Pace, I felt confident that I would find Sergeant Pickle.

Phyllis and I attended the 1/35th Infantry Battalion annual convention in Springfield, MO, September, 2016, to question attendees about Sergeant Dill, (AKA, Pickle). But to no avail.  Although two fellow soldiers knew that he was ill but did not have an address or phone number.

I got a call four months later

Pickle was a nickname given Sergeant Dill by the men of B Company.  His bravery, integrity and friendship was an example to everyone.

In picture, I’m talking to the soldier with a weapon on his shoulder.  Sergeant Dill is leaning against a tree in the background, talking on the radio, a Captain, Artillery Forward Observer, front right and a Lieutenant ,Platoon Leader, right rear (Summer, 1969).  

 We needed a Radio Telephone Operator (RTO) to replace the one who rotated home.  Because the RTO was a position especially important to the success of the Company, Sergeant Dill was chosen.  He was the most competent Non-Commissioned Officer In the Company.   

We became friends and worked together for the remainder of 1969.  Sergeant Dill returned to the States and was discharged.  He served the Army Infantry with honor and distinction.  Forty-eight years later I started looking for him.  The medic who was in B Company called and us gave Donna Dill’s telephone number.  I called and spoke to Donna.

She spoke of Eddie (his given name) explaining, he recently had a stroke and subsequently two brain operations.  He was put on hospice care and not expected to live much longer. 

My wife immediately said, “ we are going to North Carolina.  The next morning we left.   After driving two days, we met Donna and other family members at the nursing facility.

Donna, explained, her husband obtained a theological degree and had worked as a layperson in a local church.  He seldom talked of his time in Vietnam.  There had been no improvement in his cognitive abilities since the operations.  Donna told us that Eddie did not respond either physically or verbally to family members.

After relating stories about Eddie to the family, how brave he was and how he served his country honorably, I went to Eddie’s bedside and told him what an outstanding soldier he was and how much the company had depended on him.   Discussing what we did together in Vietnam and asking him questions, knowing he could not answer.

Phyllis and I left later in the afternoon and returned the next day.  When we walked into his room, Donna handed me a letter written 48 years earlier.  I didn’t remember writing the letter of appreciation but, but it was my signature.

Walking to Eddie’s bed, I paused and looked at the Sergeant for few minutes before talking to him as if he would understood every word said.  Then I took the letter, braced myself, and addressed Eddie directly, placing my hand on Eddie’s arm and reading the letter of praise, pausing at times to gather my emotions.

About half way through the letter, Eddie reached with his other hand toward me.  Grasping his hand, I noticed a tear had dropped from his eye and ran down his cheek.  Finishing the letter, we said goodbye to the family.  They thanked us profusely.

 A few hours went by as we were driving to Fort Benning, GA where we had arranged to meet Pace and Dot.  Pace was another veteran who fought in the war with me. 

Donna called and told us that Eddie had passed away.  It was a sad time.  But we were fortunate to have been able to talk to Eddie before he was taken home to be with the Lord.  But most of all, we were a blessing to Pickle’s family.

As we look back at the unlikely circumstances that fell into place allowing old soldiers to be reacquainted, we are heartened to know that Sergeant Dill’s family had experienced the saving grace of Jesus Christ, our risen Savior.

Thank you, Phyllis for encouraging me to write and being a partner in doing what we are doing.  Writing has been both therapeutic and liberating.  Soldiers written about, contacted me and ultimately led us to Eddie.  We believe that God has used this endeavor to further His purpose.   Perhaps He is not through with Phyllis and I yet.

Sergeant Douglas Edward Dill received the following awards and decorations:

Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal w/2 Bronze Stars, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Air Medal, Letter of Appreciation (3), 1st Class Gunner (M-60MG), Sharpshooter, Rifle.

Pace, Chapter five, Pg 2, “We Family”

 PACE

We were camping on the Guadalope River, about 35 miles Southwest of Austin in August, 2016..   My son-in-law, Ben and I traveled up and down the river looking for good fishing places, finding several.

When we returned to camp, I decided to continue my research about what my father did in WWII.   Going from one military site to another, I came across an email addressed to me sitting on the 1/35th Infantry Regiment’s web page.   It read:

“I am looking for Lt Burr, 3d Plt, B Co, 1/35th Infantry.  He saved my life on Jan 20, 1967.  (he added other details).  Anyone who knows where he is, please contact me.”   Signed, Pace Caldwell.   He provided a phone number and email address.

What are the odds of such a thing?  It had been placed there 16 years earlier.

Having served in 1/35th Infantry for two years in South Vietnam, I hurriedly read the note.  I didn’t recognize the author, Pace, but I did remembered the battle he spoke of.  The day was January 20, 1967, five months short of 50 years ago.   We lost 3 men.  PFC    Julian Martinez Alvarez, PFC Henery Earl Robbins and PFC George William McGhee gave their lives.  All Brave men, worthy of being remembered.

I was a lieutenant leading a Reconnaissance patrol.  Along with 14 men, we were dropped off  in a landing zone (LZ) just before dark.  Our orders were to find an observation point and report enemy activity to headquarters.  Only one problem.  The helicopter pilots dropped us in the wrong landing zone.  The next morning we found that we were in big trouble.

We did not know where we were, but we were deep in enemy territory without air support or supporting artillery fires.  No one knew our location.   Not even me.

We were on our own, greatly outnumbered and fighting a losing battle.   Finally, I was able to use artillery smoke rounds to determine our location, which was about 8 kilometers from the intended LZ.  I knew exactly where the enemy was and called for Artillery and lots of it, on target.

It turned the tide and we were able to stabilize our position and extricate our casualties.

A CH47 Chinook (similar to this one) Pilot heard my desperate call for medivac and responded.

He hovered over our position and pulled up four casualties.

Sergeant Pace had been severely wounded, but the medic said he could make it and I released the medevac pilots with our other casualties and two KIA’s aboard.   

Some of the description above was in Pace’s email.  He added this account of that ill fated day,  “As the helicopter was leaving our position, I looked at the Lt and told him I wouldn’t make it off this mountain.  He got on the horn and pleaded with the pilot to return and pick me up.  And he did“

The pilot returned and Pace was fasten into a stretcher and pulled up just as the others before him.

Burr on left, I don’t remember his name, on right

Without Phyllis’ perceptive and compassionate help, I never would have conquered PTSD, researched my father’s history, would never have seen Pace’s email and all that followed.    

How this metamorphosis came about is easily explained but was difficult to achieve.  My wife suggested that I write about my experiences and she helped me deal with the past to do so.  And it let to this.  Such coincidence. 

 After reading the email, I called Pace.  Phyllis knew this conversation was going to be special and asked if she could invite our family, camping next door to listen.  Of course, I said yes.

It was a gripping and emotionally charged conversation.  We talked for about an hour but we were silent at times because we could not cut through the emotion that bound us together.

During the conversation, Phyllis and I arranged to meet Pace and his wife, Dot , at a 1/35 Infantry Regiment conference to be held in a few weeks.

In all of this, I owe my wellness to my loving and compassionate wife, Phyllis who understood my dilemma and helped me overcome the tentacles of PTSD holding me in its grip.

God guided people, so that He might bless them.  Pace gave Him full credit for this miracle.  He talked frequently about God working our lives.  Pace passed away in November, 2018 due to complications from Agent Orange, a toxic chemical used to defoliate  forested areas.

Broken Arrow, Chapter Five, Pg 1, “We Family”

            BROKEN ARROW

Upon returning from our trip from North Carolina to see Pickle, we stopped by Ft Benning, Ga to meet Pace and his wife, Dot.   We visited the miniature wall to honor the seven soldiers who were killed in battle while serving in the 1/35th Infantry Battalion, Plieku, South Vietnam,  Brave and honorable Infantry soldiers each.

           Arrow Heights Baptist Church

Phyllis and I felt especially blessed to be able to affect the lives of two families in a positive way.   By the Grace of God we do what we do.  We bought a house in Broken Arrow and joined Arrow Heights Baptist Church and renewed our faith in Christ in a more committed way.

Then we were caught up in the Coronavirus Restrictions like everyone else.

Because of our health and age, we decided to be very cautious and stay home except to buy essentials.

Phyllis and I had started a project to catalog the church archives that had been stored since the church was founded in 1955.  Like many Institutions, documents, directories and other items are placed in storage waiting for a time to organize.

       I wanted to get our flag in the picture

We started about the first week in October 2019 and temporally halted our work in March 2020 until the health threat had lessened.   We probably need another month or more to finish the project when we get back to work.

I was teaching a Bible class on Wednesday nights and finished 8 weeks of a 19 week course when the virus hit this area.  So I began classes on-line using ZOOM.  Although it doesn’t come close to teaching person to person, it served the purpose.

We have started a ZOOM family discussion once a month.  The third such gathering is August, 2020.  I hope it continues.  Families need each other.  The only way that can happen is if we know what’s going on in each others lives.

Phyllis has been working on a quilt for each of our three children.    

Recently she purchased a keyboard and has started taking lesson online from her daughter-in-law, Donna, who lives in Maryland.  My wife is not afraid to tackle anything.

 

Why God Spared Me, Chapter 3, Pg 8, We Family”

WHY GOD SPARED ME 

58,220 Americans were killed in the Vietnam War.  As I reflect on the two years I  served in Vietnam as an Infantry officer, I wonder how I escaped unharmed. Most of the battles fought by my units were against North Vietnamese Army (NVA) units who are ferocious fighters.

I sometimes ask myself, why was I spared and the next man was not?  I know I’m not alone when I ask myself this question.  Many soldiers, perhaps most, reflect after a battle or at the end of a war as they struggle to understand this quandary.  Some find answers and some do not.  There may be as many answers to the question as there are survivors.

Bottom Left, Mike, Bethany. Evan, Kimberly, Melissa, Cynthia, Vanessa (baby), Cynthia Nicole, Donna, Susan, Phyllis, Jack, Rick, and Randy

I can recall several instances where I escaped injury when in close combat with NVA fighters in circumstances that cannot be explained or understood in a rational sense. For example,  an enemy soldier threw a hand grenade that I saw in the air before it hit the ground about 8-10 feet in front of me. I was flat on my stomach when I first saw the grenade and watched helplessly as it bounced toward me. I covered my head with both arms and hugged the ground. Miraculously, the grenade exploded after it bounced side- ways into a ditch.

           Jack Burr Platoon Leader on L,         Artillery Forward Advisor on R

There is no rational explanation for how I escaped obvious jeopardy. 

Like many fellow soldiers I was a changed person after Vietnam.  Life became more precious. Small things such as watching a sunset or listening to the chirping of birds in the morning took on new meaning.

My family became more important, particularly in matters of faith and practice of biblical teaching.   After a while life fell into a routine as Phyllis and I became more involved in church activities.

I had not thought about the question posed at the beginning of this story for some time, but the question and the answer came to me suddenly.   After Sunday School Class,  a young man asked a question about being saved.

As I was explaining God’s plan of salvation in the person of Jesus, the Holy Spirit interceded and the young man was saved.  At that moment I knew the answer to the question, “why me”. In God’s eyes, One soul is priceless.

As I reflected on this matter I realized there were many reasons why I returned from Vietnam uninjured.  Let me numerate a few:  help Phyllis raise three great kids, love and provide for my family, in short be a good husband and father.  Be a Godly person by helping others and being a good neighbor.

I could list others but the point is this:  Living is more fulfilling and rewarding because I recognized my purpose in life.

Inside Mexico, Chapter 4, Pg 7, “We Family”

     LOS ALTARES MEXICO

It was the second winter we were spending at Victoria Palms.  We really, really enjoyed living in the valley.

We heard about this trip into Mexico, we thought it would be fun.    It was.  Crossing into Mexico at Brown-ville, TX border to tour along Hwy 48 or  Los Altares, which means dangerous highway.  Our destination was a small isolated village in the Tarahumara Mountains.

The Spanish established silver mines in the region in the 1600’s.  I don’t remember the name of the village, but it was one of the few isolated communities that survived in the Sierra after the silver mines closed.

As I recall we went on this trip with another couple but I don’t remember their names.

The guide took us to a cemetery and explained that the elaborate  above ground tombs were for the wealthy and had religious after death advantages but most in the cemetery were just markers for common folk.

  Along this route there’s a famous rest area called

“Los Altares”, where a series of aztec murals depicted in the rock formations. 
About half of the trip was through dry flat are with sparse vegetation. 

Los Altares is known for its scenic drive between forest and rock formations.

We stopped along the way to walk around a tourist town.  As you can see we are dressed appropriately.

 This high mountain road  is bounded on

 

the north and northeast by the United States.  As we approached. The mountains the road became treacherous.   

Finally when we reached the end of the wide road, the driver stoped and talked to another driver of a smaller bus who agreed to drive us on to our destination.

This road and the road above are similar to the ones on the last leg of our journey.   The passengers loaded onto the smaller bus. 

As we drove thru a tunnel carved out of the mountain, we understood why a smaller bus was necessary.  As we exited the tunnel we found ourselves on a very narrow village street.

It seemed that the driver was in a hurry.  So much so that he paid little heed to the awnings covering the vender’s   wares along each side of the very narrow village street.  The venders were waving and shouting at driver.  Again, the driver paid no mind, taking us to our destination outside the village,  an amphitheater that appeared to be several hundred years old, like the one pictured here.

Our guide told the history of Northern Mexico in the 17 century when Silver was discovered in the Mountain range we drove through on our way to this village.  The amphitheater shown here is similar to the one just outside the small village.As the guide spoke, his voice was understandable even to us standing across the other side of the amphitheater. It was an interesting story of how the locals were forced to mine the silver from the rock.

The rails constructed to deliver the ore out of the mountain, was also a way of escape for the locals who suffered the tyranny of the Mexican Army.

Scenery on the drive back was not as interesting as the way there.

We returned to our original transportation and started back to Brownsville.  We had one adventure remaining, The Chicken Train.

On our trip back to Donna, TX, the bus driver diverted our route to a railroad crossing where he stopped and instructed the passengers to disembark and stand by the tracks.  He explained a train (called the Chicken Train) would be coming by this spot and would stop for us.  About an hour later the Chicken Train stopped and we climbed aboard.The train was fully loaded already so we found a place to stand. A quick look around revealed how the train got its name.  Apparently this was the high market day for chickens.The train started and maintained a slow pace as we were jostled around by the un                                                                                            Waiting for the Chicken Train A Mexican lady explained that the tracks were loose and the conductor must go slow.  As she was talking the conductor came to us and asked if we would like to go up front.  We did.   I think there were four of us chosen to go forward to the conductors cabin.  The way forward was along a metal mesh walkway on the outside of the train.  A hand rail kept us from falling to the ground.

Inside the cockpit was a blast and was the highlight of the trip.  The conductor described each of the control handles and showed us the loose rails we were riding on. He slowed down frequently and explained that certain portions of the tracks were worse than other loose areas and  required a speed of less than 10 MPH.  We asked if it was dangerous riding on loose rails.  He chuckled and replied, “yes”.  Phyllis got to toot the whistle, a fitting end to this adventure.

 Los Altares means dangerous road Highway 48.  To that we might add, ” and  Crazy driver.”  Both the bus driver and train conductor.

A Hard Heart, Chapter Three, pg 3, “We Family”

      A HARD HEART   

Phyllis and I decided in the the early 80’s that we would retire from the Army.  She had been talking for some time that we needed to “get in Church”.

Looking back, we can see God’s hand at that pivotal point in our life. He created circumstances that made the decision the only practical one. We moved to West Tulsa in 1981 and joined Bethel Baptist Church.   Everyone in the Burr family was involved in church activities, from teaching, yard work, to kitchen help. God was doing a mighty work in our lives, blessing each of us.  As was our custom on Wednesday evening, Phyllis’s father and I went on visitation.

On this particular visit, Bill choose to take the lead and started the conversation with the older gentleman, who was lying in bed, obviously very ill.  He told Bill he didn’t have much longer to live.  When asked where he expected to spend eternity, the man replied.  “i’ll be in hell with all my buddies.”

You don’t have to go there, Bill said and started telling the man about Jesus. The man stopped him and said he didn’t want to hear that stuff.    We concluded our visit and started for the door, when Bill turned and started to say something. He changed his mind and we left. It was obvious the man had hardened his heart toward God and sealed his own fate. 

A sad story but repeated too often. God’s Grace is available to all, but is effectual only for those who believe.  It is appointed unto man once to die; and then the judgment.

Another Addition to the Family, Chapter Three, Pg 6, “We Family”

ANOTHER ADDITION TO THE FAMILY                            

In 1989 Phyllis and I learned of the acute need for foster parents in our community. Such a shame that so many innocent children,

Because of Phyllis’ deep and abiding love for children, we decided to become foster parents again. Susan was a beautiful 2 yr old child.

 

Before we could be parents, Phyllis, Cynthia and I had to attend training session.  However, she was a child who needed a lot of attention.

  She was a beautiful child who became a favorite with our church friends.  Susan was with us about a year before she was adopted by another family.   

A cute little girl with a dynamite personality

 

Rick the Leader, Chapter 4, Pg 5, “We Family”

RICK THE LEADER

My purpose, as with other stories, is to provide an informal record of events and personalities which will be of interest to present and future generations of the Burr family.  Richard Allen Burr has always had an outgoing, gregarious and inclusive personality, even as a child.      One of the earliest examples of the kind of personality he would grow up to have happened when we was about 18 months old.  When his mother and I were hugging each other,   Rick held up his hands and asked to be picked up.  When we did so, he put his arms around each of our necks and said “we family”.

                      We were surprised because we didn’t even know he knew what it meant to be in a family.

Not surprisingly, he was serious minded young child.  Many times he would rather be around adults than children his own age.     He enjoyed adult conversations. I suppose the fact that he was  the oldest child of our three children, he felt he should be more grown up.

Even as a preteen he would hang around in the background listening and learning from adult conversation.  Which is why he matured at an early age and excelled in several endeavors before becoming a sought after Information Technology Executive.

Rick at Rock Bridge Mill, MO.                       

His personality was well developed in that he like to do a variety of things.  He enjoyed table games and had a competitive nature which contributed to his winning record in most instances.    What I’m most proud of that my son grew up with a capacity of concern for other people.

           Rick Always Helping                                                     

 I think this attribute stems from innate integrity and good character which shaped his personality and his behavior.   These attributes go a long way in explaining why he is a genuinely honorable  person and friend to many.   Phyllis taught our kids to be kind to others and to be friends especially to  unpopular children.  I think Rick took her advice further than she intended.Although he was bigger than other boys his age,he was not aggressive.  In fact, when another boy picked on him and pushed him around he would not defend himself.   When Phyllis learned of this she instructed him to not to be mean but  to defend himself.  The following day after

school while walking on a footbridge across a creek on the way home, the same boy (smaller than Rick) started picking on him. Rick picked him up  and threatened to drop him into the creek if he didn’t leave him alone.   Of course he didn’t drop him, but it took care of that problem.  In many ways Rick was a typical boy.  For example, when riding his bike at a high speed he wrecked and flipped over the handle bars, hit a fire hydrant and broke a front tooth. 

When attending summer camp with neighborhood kids, he accepted Christ as savior when we lived in Indianapolis, IN.

Rick married his high school sweetheart, Susan Young shortly after Phyllis and I moved to Tulsa.

Perhaps the most prominent aspect of their marriage is the commitment to their family.    One more story about Rick before I talk about his unique attributes.

The year was 1980 and his brother Randy had locked his car with the keys in the ignition.  He called his brother for help.  Of course, Rick was glad to help.  He took a hammer and drew back and took a mighty swing and

missed the window.  Instead he left an unsightly dent in the upper side panel of Randy’s beautiful chick magnet.  If you look closely you may see the dent behind the window.                                  Recognizing the importance of education to his  career, Rick completed a bachelor and masters degree in the difficult field of Computer Science as a part time student over a period of several years.

He accomplish this feat while working full time without sacrificing time to be a good parent and  husband.  He is one those rare individuals who can get by 4-5 hours of sleep a night for extended periods of time.

Mike caught several fish that day.  A couple keepers. 

 As I mentioned earlier, Rick has a unique personality.  Much of his professional success can be traced to his uncommon ability to relate to individuals and groups in ways to promote common goals.  He is able to thoroughly understand complex issues and reduce difficult concepts into understandable terms and by the force of his personality convince follow workers the value of doing things a new and better way.     

Melissa was a cutie pie with a unique personality which she inherited from her father  (the personality part)         

For example, when working for Cargill, a multinational, privately owned conglomerate, his boss needed someone to study a difficult and complex Information Technology (IT) issues requiring major changes throughout the worldwide organization,

Rick was chosen more than once to head multi-disciplinary groups to study the disparate parts of a multi-layered project and recommend a specific and detailed  course of action which met and frequently exceeded management expectations.

Rick was the right man for the job and was recognized multiple times for his innovative thinking and inclusive approach.  He possesses a unique ability to communicate with technicians using IT jargon to help shape their thinking.  He is equally adept using language of persuasion when communicating with high level business and operation manager while maintaining a down to earth outlook of his professional duties and his outside interests which are multiple.      He traveled to countries in Europe and South America to train managers and IT professionals in policies and procedures developed by his team.

However, I think Rick’s most endearing attribute is his compassion and willingness to help others.   He has taught Sunday School, helped in youth ministry and other worthy community activities.  He is what I consider a well-rounded person.

It is not an understatement to say Rick is popular among our grandchildren  at our family get-togethers.  The reason is simple, he’s funny.  He can tell a joke, recite funny lines from movies and talk about other interesting but obscure facts.

Most recently he volunteered to help his elderly in-laws manage their affairs they are no longer able to do so.  He was asked because he is a trusted man of good character.

Phyllis and I are very proud  of Rick and his family.  Anyone who knows Rick would be proud to call him son.  God has blessed us.  Phyllis and I love you and your family.  Philippians 4:19

As I wrote earlier, Rick married his sweetheart Susan, shortly after graduating from Derby High School.  They had two children, melissa, who married Ted Burns.  Both are wonderful adults.  They lost Mike much too soon.  Recently, Rick wrote the following on his Facebook page:

“It has been 8 years ago today that we lost Mike. it seems like yesterday and long, long ago at the same time.

In this stressful time when we don’t have any idea what normal is anymore, If you are having thoughts of Suicide, CALL SOMEONE.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline – 1-800-273-8255”

Randy the Preacher, Chapter Four, Pg 4, “We Family”

RANDY THE PREACHER

Phyllis and I believe our middle child, Randy, will have great rewards in Heaven as he and his family have devoted most of their adult life to  Christian service.  More about that later.  Randy was a bright child.  While Rick and Cynthia, who like their parents, had to study and work to get A’s in school.  Randy could inherently grasp a complex concept with apparent ease and very little study.  Particularly in math.

This giftedness was first recognized when Phyllis was teaching Rick math skill using flash cards when he was about five.  Randy two years younger, would interrupt with the correct answer before Rick had an opportunity to respond.

 I retired from the Army in the fall of 1981. Rick remained in Wichita, KS where he later married Susan, his sweetheart. The rest of us  moved to Tulsa and became active in Bethel Baptist Temple.

It was here where Randy accepted Christ as  his savior and was baptized.  Shortly thereafter, Randy accepted the call to the ministry.

When he graduated Webster High School, Tulsa University offered a scholarship in engineering.  During his first semester it was apparent that his heart wasn’t in this endeavor.    His English Professor assigned students a writing assignment about a topic of the students choice.  Randy decided to write about Jesus and his plan for saving humanity.  However, the professor instructed Randy he would only be allowed to write a satire of the “story” of Jesus .

Randy disregarded her instructions and submitted his paper about the REAL Jesus.

He was chastised and given a poor grade.  Shortly after that, he withdrew, married Donna Cobb and left for Baptist BibleCollege, Springfield.

After 2 and 1/2years in Springfield, MO, Randy joined the Navy to attend the Naval Nuclear Power School in Orlando, Fl.

After graduating near  the top of his class he was transferred to Balston, Spa, NY to attend the Naval Prototype course.After two years of schooling, he was assigned to the USS Skipjack SSN 585 fast attack submarine.As a crew member. Randy served with distinction on the Skipjack until it was decommissioned in 1991.  During this time Randy and Donna had two beautiful daughters, Randy and his young family remained in Virginia where he found work as a manager trainee for Camelia Food Store, a multi-state grocery store chain.  Within a few months he was assigned Manager of the store and earned the reputation of increasing operational efficiency and profit margins in every Department.   Subsequently, Corporate Headquarters  moved him to grocery stores struggling with theft, inefficiency and profit issues.

In each case he met or exceeded corporate goals.  Again, he was promoted and assigned to an audit team to examine operations across 52 stores and make recommendations.    Randy was advancing quickly to  positions of greater responsibility and seemed to have a bright managerial future with Camelia Foods.  He did not know that God was preparing him for a future where the  managerial and leadership skills developed here would enable him to weather the financial and cultural storms that began in 2007 and lasted more than a decade.  Randy felt the call of God and left Camelia Foods to joined  the ministry of Fellowship Baptist Church, Chesapeake, VA where he received his ordination and served as Assistant Pastor for 3 of the 11 years in Chesapeake, VA.

During the next 8 years Randy impacted 100’s of lives for Christ while pastoring  two churches.  In fact, the entire family was intimately involved in the ministry.   Donna is an accomplished pianist and singer.  While Randy was pastor of Decatur Heights Baptist Church in Bladensburg, MD  he suffered a heart attack and underwent surgery.

Randy, Donna, Kimberly Alan, Cynthia and Bryan

His doctor advised him to find a less stressful profession.  Accordingly,  Randy began looking for a job where he could use his managerial skills in a less stressful but still in a Christian environment.   He found the perfect fit as Principal of Lanham Christian School, Lanham,MD  and was hired in 2006.  It was the job God had prepared for him at a   time when Institutions all over the U.S. were experiencing  the  declining economy as well as the cultural upheaval that affected Christian institutions in particular.   In this situation several similar Christian schools in Prince George County were forced to close.  Lanham Christian School is a college prep day school  with  over 200  students enrolled in grades K-4 thru 12 The school is fully approved by Maryland State Department of Education’s Board of Accreditation and Certification.   The mission of Lanham is to  shape students to  (1) Magnify Christ as they learn and grow, (2) reflect the Character of God’s person and purpose and (3) to Develop Commitment to self-discipline and obedience that promote spiritual and academic growth.Randy was instrumental in improving day to day operations and returning the school to the mission of providing high quality education to a christain community.

Phyllis and I may be a bit prejudiced but Randy is the most gifted preacher we’ve ever heard.  It is apparent that God has richly blessed Randy and his family.

The Nickle, Chapter 4, Page 3, “We Family

   THE NICKEL DOESN’T BELONG TO ME

During our Christmas reunion the family was reminiscing about family stories when, our daughter, Cynthia told about going to the store recently to buy a few items, including two bags of ice.  Later that day she realized that she had paid for only one bag.  She immediately returned to the store and paid for the extra bag of ice.  Cynthia reminded us of the story which had provided her a guide in such matters.

In the 1960’s, her grandfather Burr, had traveled to Muskogee to borrow money from a bank because he was struggling to make ends meet.  When he returned to Warner, he discovered that the cashier had given him a nickel too much.

Cynthia and her mother, Phyllis

Although it was only a nickel, he went back the same day and returned the money.  When asked why he would do such a thing? He said , “The money didn’t belong to me,

it belonged to the other man. ”   Cynthia was only a youngster when it happened but she remembered because the family had told and retold the story many times.

Since her grandfather had set an example, she felt compelled to do the same.

  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  Colossians 3:2

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