A TRIBUTE TO A CHILDHOOD FRIEND

I was stunned and saddened yesterday to learn that one of my childhood friends had been killed in a motorcycle accident. Charles Bailey is his name, but he wanted to be called Chuck. I appreciated that he let me get away with calling him Charlie.

We met in grade school and became close friends. I was at his house in the summer almost every day and stayed all night on many occasions. He had an above ground pool that we played in for hours and hours. He also had a ping pong table in the basement that gave us many more hours of fun, including games we invented.

We played together on the same Knothole baseball team for several years; he was our catcher and I played first base. One day after practice our manager kidded me saying he’d see me in church on Sunday. Knowing it was within walking distance from my house, Charlie invited me to his church. I went that Sunday and my life was changed by that little church and the wonderful people who welcomed my older brother and me.

Charlie and I continued our close friendship through junior high and high school. He played basketball in high school and I tried football, gymnastics, baseball, and wrestling. I wasn’t very good in any of them and he never was a starter in basketball.

Three things I especially remember about high school include playing a lot of poker, teaching the 2nd grade boys Sunday school class at church, and double dating. He had a blue 1964 Ford convertible that contributed greatly to our dating experience.

As we came to the second semester of our senior year we both decided to attend Cincinnati Bible College (now Cincinnati Christian University) to train to be ministers. We were roommates the first year. We both made the basketball team; he was a regular starter, but I started very few games.

Charlie’s first position in ministry was his last. While in college we both became youth ministers. The difference was that my senior minister was supportive and helpful, his was not. Following that experience he never considered going into ministry again.

He got married before I did and I was the best man at his wedding. Three years later I got married and he was the best man at our wedding.

After he married, and after college, our friendship waned. We got together a few times, but I eventually took a church in Philadelphia and after 10 years moved to California. We only saw each other a couple of times and eventually lost touch.

Although we had no contact the last 35 years or so, the news of his death has had a great impact on me. Charlie played a huge part in my life from grade school through college. I wish it would have been easier to stay in touch, but we both went in different directions.

I thank God that Charlie was a part of my life and added so much to it during those early days. I don’t think I ever told him how much our friendship meant to me. Of course it is too late now, but I pray that I will see him again some time and get to revel in our memories of our friendship so many years ago. I am sorry that he is gone.

9 thoughts on “A TRIBUTE TO A CHILDHOOD FRIEND

  1. Bob, I am so sorry for the loss of your childhood friend! I totally understand because that’s the way I felt when Cathy Davis VonRissen passed away. She and I had been friends since we were 13 years old … we were inseparable! We had not seen each other in over 32 years …. last time I saw her my daughter was eight months old. We stayed in touch via Facebook and messenger and I would call her on her birthday and sometimes a surprise call during the year as well. But we still claim to be the best of friends… very best friends. May God comfort your heart and prayers for his family!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So sorry to hear of your loss Bob. Sounds like Charlie was a great friend especially during your early years. Thanks for sharing such emotional news. Peace to you and to Charlie’s family.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bob, Friends even though we sometimes drift apart are an important part of who we are. He blessed you with his friendship sharing his home and inviting you to church. You went on to become a pastor and have blessed countless lives. God brought him to you for a reason and we can all be thankful for that. You have my condolences on the passing of your friend Charlie.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So sorry to learn of Chuck’s passing. He was my back row buddy in Professor George Mark Elliott’s class at CCU. Thanks for sharing this tribute to friends who’ve impacted our lives. So glad God allowed our paths to cross in this life. Looking forward to heaven and a big reunion!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bobby,
    Sorry to hear your friend was killed in that accident. This was a great message. We need to let people know how much they impacted our lives! I for one am very grateful you had a wonderful mentor in your first senior pastor, causing you to eventually move to Moreno Valley. You my friend, have helped me to grow and love our God so much. I’ll take this month to reconnect and let others know how they’ve impacted my life.
    Thank you for this and so many insightful messages.
    Love you,
    Debbie

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Really good message, reminding us to cherish friendships, both old and new. So sorry to hear of the passing of your friend. Love you Bob!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. WOW. Sorry to hear the news. Chuck was a leader of the B-Ball team my freshman year. You guys were good for a greenhorn to be around. Thanks for sharing. God be with Chuck’s family.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I too share your sadness and grief at Chuck’s passing. Your tribute was very appropriate. I remember often passing Chuck the ball hoping to get it back but then celebrating as he
    hit a jump shot from the corner. Such good memories. Our connections in Christ run so deep even though separated by years and distance. They are eternal bonds. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and his friends and to you my brother in Christ.

    Liked by 1 person

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