Deuces wild for Ashland in 1928: Almost 2 good to be true?

Deuces wild for Ashland in 1928: Almost 2 good to be true?

The deuces were prevalent for the Ashland Tomcats and Ashland Kittens basketball teams in 1928.

Let’s count the ways:

–Ashland brought home not one, but two, state championships with both the Tomcats and Kittens winning it.

–Tomcat star Ellis Johnson was whistled for two fouls – the entire season! No wonder he was given the sportsmanship award after the tournament.

–Two Kittens players were named to a Lexington writer’s “All Kentucky Beautiful Girls Basketball Team.”

I couldn’t make this stuff up. Are  you seeing double yet?

When Ashland’s boys and girls swept the 1928 state basketball championships, it was a hero’s welcome when they returned home from Lexington. And why not? It was the first time in Kentucky high school history that any school swept the boys and girls championship honors.

The Tomcats did it in heart-stopping fashion by defeating Carr Creek 13-11 in four overtimes before a loud and rowdy crowd at the UK gymnasium. The Kittens defeated Oddville (I’m not kidding) by a score of 27-11.

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A delegation of 10,000 awaited the train carrying the victors home and the mayor extended an official welcome and had some keys to the city to hand out (you reading this Steve Gilmore and Matt Perkins?) It was declared a half-holiday in Ashland with most of the businesses shutting down amid the celebration. A parade took the teams down Winchester Avenue and over to 17th Street where the party continued for hours. Picture shows (no movies yet), confectioneries, and amusements of all kind were made available for free to the Ashland teams who were clearly the toasts of town.

Ashland had more than 1,000 fans of the 4,000 in the UK gymnasium on the boys championship night, the Lexington Leader newspaper said. Special cars were made up that carried 400 on a train from Ashland to Lexington and the other 600 came Thursday. Carr Creek, the mountain team from Knott County that didn’t even have a gym where they could practice, had become tournament darlings and several thousand supporters, including many from the schools that had already been eliminated, were rooting for the Creekers

When the Kittens won the championship, they were showered with dozens of flowers on the floor. The state title was nothing new for coach W.B. Jackson, who had directed state titles in 1921 and 1922 – the first years of the tournament – and also in 1924.

Ashland’s boys had reached the semifinals twice and the finals once in previous state tournaments.

The attendance for the 1928 boys tournament was the best since it started, the newspaper reported.

The All-State team was selected by the two referees with Ashland’s Ellis Johnson and Darrell Darby among the five named. That’s right, five. Carr Creek had one player on the team.

Johnson won the sportsmanship award after a season where he was whistled for only two fouls in 37 games.

Carr Creek’s team was given the sportsmanship award and it’s no wonder why. They had captured everybody’s hearts. Fans of both teams hoisted their coaches, Jimmy Anderson for Ashland and Oscar Morgan for Carr Creek, on their shoulders following the exhausting four-overtime championship game.

E.M. Sargent, a writer for the Lexington Leader, selected his own team for the girls. He wrote: “Kentucky has always been noted for its beautiful women and therefore it is appropriate that an ‘All Kentucky Most Beautiful Girls Basketball Team’ be selected.” Evelyn Ashworth and Thelma Young of Ashland were among his team of “two blondes and three brunettes.”

Oh my, how times have changed.

 

 

A thread of Tomcat perfection

A thread of Tomcat perfection

No matter what else Ashland’s boys’ basketball team does over the next two or three weeks, they have carved out a place in Tomcat lore.

They have made us reach back into the Tomcats annals of history practically every week and reminded us of greatness past. Upon completing the perfect regular season at 28-0 on Thursday, they won the most games in a season since 1996 when those Tomcats notched 27 victories during a spectacular and surprising run to the state championship game before losing to Paintsville in an all-mountain final. We’ve compared them to 1961, the greatest passing team maybe of all time in Kentucky high school history, and in some ways we have linked them to 1928.

How hard is going undefeated in the regular season? Well, it hasn’t happened in 92 years in our region. The 1927-28 Tomcats didn’t lose a game, going 37-0 in an era when there was a jump ball after every basket (it really paid off to have a tall guy!).

It wasn’t like basketball as we know it now, with 3-pointers being largely a part of the landscape for this year’s Tomcats, but that didn’t make it easy to go 37-0. It was a game where buckets were scare and defense was fierce.

They didn’t have quite the attention (pressure?) that we put on these young men today. We’ve all talked about the unbeaten Tomcats since they won the Ashland Invitational Tournament in December. The countdowns came with every game. How many more could they win? Can you imagine what has been put on their shoulders?

I asked a friend who played on Ashland’s 1975 JAWS football team about the pressure of being on an undefeated team. JAWS went 14-0 before losing to St. Xavier 20-0 in the 4A championship game. Rick Sang told me, “We never thought we were going to lose. Not even against St. X after everything we were hearing about them.”

A sendoff for Ashland’s undefeated JAWS football team going to play in the state championship in 1975.

The same could be said for the 1966 undefeated Ashland state championship baseball team. They went 25-0 in the first of three consecutive state titles. Bill and Bob Lynch, the stalwart pitchers for those Tomcats, echoed Sang’s feelings of “we never thought we were going to lose.”  And with those guys on the mound, they seldom ever did. They were 17-1 in 1965, losing in the state semifinals. That’s 42-1 over two years. Dominant pitching was the difference.

Bill Lynch was 27-2 in three seasons with the Tomcats, including 11-0 with a 0.31 ERA as a senior.

Losing wasn’t an option or part of the vocabulary. In my estimation, it’s even tougher in basketball (and baseball) than football to complete perfection. That statement bares truth when you see how many teams in Kentucky have completed undefeated seasons in football and the very few that have done it in basketball.

Johnson Central football did it this year, going 15-0 with an incredible team of well-coached athletes. Most of the teams on their schedule were no match.

Ashland’s 1958 football team is the last unbeaten in Tomcat history, going 10-0-1, with Herb Conley as one of the stars. He later was on the coaching staff of 1967’s 13-1 team and head coach of 1975 JAWS. Those teams were both built on brute force and simply overpowered most foes.

It’s different in basketball. Even though you may be the better team, the chances you could lose are greater. The intangibles – hot night for the opponent, cold night for you – can be the difference in winning or losing.

So the Tomcats going 28-0 – and 29-0 looks like a pretty sure thing come Monday vs. Rose Hill – is worth celebrating no matter what happens the rest of the way. Ashland could lose once and still have a shot to win the 16th Region or they could take a sparkling 30-0 record to Morehead in two weeks.

It’s interesting what could transpire and how the script has been flipped. Last year, Ashland was given little chance against Elliott County in the region semifinals but pulled off the improbable victory. Now, the Tomcats are back in the more familiar role of favorite and the target is clear. They will get everybody’s best shot.

Back in 1928, the Tomcats were 21-0 in the regular season and then swept through the district and region with 10 victories. They played a postseason regular-season game against Huntington High between the winning the state championship and before going to the national tournament and won again to take a 32-0 record into the national tournament in Chicago.

Ashland qualified because of being a state champion and the team the Tomcats beat in the state finals in four overtimes – Carr Creek – was invited too. They had nine players, all of them cousins, who played the regional tournament in cutoff khaki pants and t-shirts with numbers sewn on by hand. They had to practice outside because they didn’t have a real gym and they had to walk or ride horseback eight miles to catch a bus ride to games, all of which were played on the road.

To make it to Lexington for the state tournament, they had to walk the eight miles and take a bus another dozen miles to reach the nearest rail spur that was about 20 miles from Carr Creek.

Don Miller’s book, The Carr Creek Legacy, is a jewel. It talks about how after Carr Creek defeated Middlesboro in the regional finals in Richmond, fans collected money so the Creekers could have regulation uniforms. Nobody expected them to be around long, but they kept picking off supposed better teams and wound up in the finals against the Tomcats.

The state tournament was a bigger deal then than even now with the media. It was second only to the Kentucky Derby as it related to sports fans in the commonwealth. The newspapers  moved stories from the tournament off the sports page and onto the front pages of the three-day tournament.

Neither Ashland nor Carr Creek were expected to be playing in the championship, but here they were. And they weren’t alone.  A crowd of 4,000 packed the University of Kentucky Alumni Gymnasium, according to newspaper accounts. Play-by-play reports were sent by telegraph to the Kentucky Theater because so many more wanted to know how the game was going. Can you imagine that?

It was a low-scoring game, like most of that time, with Carr Creek leading 4-3 at halftime. Ashland led 8-6 after three quarters and Shelby Stamper’s free throw with a second to play tied the game at 9 after regulation. Neither team scored in the first three overtimes.

Gene Strother tipped in a basket for the Tomcats from a long jumper in the fourth overtime and Ellis Johnson hit a layup for a 13-9 lead. Carr Creek made it 13-11 and the subsequent jump ball went Ashland’s way. There was no 10-second counts or over-and-back rules, so the Tomcats were able to stall out the rest of the game, using the entire floor, with Johnson “putting on a dribbling show,” as John McGill, a former ADI sports editor, said in Miller’s book. McGill saw the game as a young boy.
An excerpt from the book read:

“With Johnson putting on a dribbling show, Ashland was able to freeze the ball until the end,” McGill said, describing his childhood memories. As Ashland fans swarmed to hoist their players in the air, hundreds of fans swarmed to the floor to lift the Creekers to their shoulders, too. Earl Ruby, a sportswriter for the Louisville Courier-Journal, was trying to type his story, and he could not because of the frenzy of the Carr Creek fans. He had to obtain shelter under the table to finish his report.”

By the way, Ashland’s girls won the state championship on the same day but little was said about it. The Kittens were something fabulous too with coach W.B. Jackson guiding them to four titles in the eight years the girls state tournament was held.

One more little fact: Ashland finished its perfect season Thursday night on the floor at James A. Anderson Gymnasium, named of course, for the Mr. Anderson who was the coach of those 1928 Tomcats.

Ashland took its spotless record to the national tournament in Chicago and won five more to complete the greatest season in Tomcat history at 37-0. The team returned home to an incredible celebration of 10,000 greeting them at the train station on 11th Street where they boarded firetrucks and rode down Winchester Avenue to 17th Street and celebrated perhaps the greatest moment in Ashland sports history.

Let’s be Frank: Sloan worthy of Distinguished Tomcat Award

Let’s be Frank: Sloan worthy of Distinguished Tomcat Award

Frank Sloan was one of the rare breed of high school coaches in northeastern Kentucky history.

He’s actually legendary, which makes it fitting that he will be recognized with the Distinguished Tomcat Award before Friday’s game between Ashland and Lawrence County in the 65th annual Ashland Invitational Tournament.

Sloan was a head coach who guided the Ashland Tomcats (and Kittens) to regional championships in three sports — baseball, girls’ basketball and soccer — during a career that spanned more than three decades.

Greg Swift rounds third base and is congratulated by coach Frank Sloan in 1978.

He coached something — and sometimes a couple of somethings — for 32 consecutive years from 1973-2005.

Few can say they coached 32 years.

Fewer can say they have regional titles in three sports.

Sloan coached some of Ashland’s greatest athletes, players like Drew Hall, Daniel Smith and Jody Hamilton in baseball, Audrey Arthur in girls’ basketball and Stuart Smith and Clayton Hill in soccer, to name but a few.

“Ashland always had good kids,” he said. “It makes it easier to coach in a place like that.”

Sloan didn’t mind the pressures that came along with being the Tomcat coach. “I’d rather coach at a place where everybody wanted to beat you. That was Ashland.”

Sloan said he’ll never forget his days of coaching Ashland sports. His journey started in 1973 when Rex Miller called and told him about an opening to teach German. Sloan’s plan was being a graduate assistant coach for Morehead State soccer, where he had been a player for the Eagles.

“I was interviewed on a Friday and teaching by Tuesday,” he said. “What a better place to be than Ashland? They were strong athletically and academically.”

Sloan said when he was a freshman in high school his goal was to become a coach and teacher. He realized that dream right out of college.

It wasn’t long until he was coaching at Ashland, going to Putnam Junior High School to coach football and basketball.

Sloan, who was inducted into the CP-1 Baseball Hall of Fame last summer, took over the Tomcats’ high school baseball program in 1976 and inherited some outstanding players, including Hamilton, Mark Moore, Donnie Allen, Jon Hart, Scott Crank, Kevin Gothard, Steve Rolen, Daniel Smith, Cabot Keesey, Hall and many others.

Sloan was an outstanding high school catcher in New Jersey so he knew a little something about the game. The players took to his disciplined style but he was always quick to give credit where credit is due.

“Seventy-five percent of being an effective coach is having effective players,” he said. “The other 25 percent is discipline.”

Sloan never bought into the 40-game high school seasons that were starting toward the end of his baseball coaching career. He always wanted more time on the practice field.

“When do those teams practice?” he asked. “That’s when you work on things that aren’t working. I never understood the 35- and 40-game seasons. Practice is just as important as games. Plus, how many teams have enough pitching for that kind of season? Not very many.”

Sloan, 68, was always respected by players and opposing teams for his knowledge of whatever sport he was coaching. He won numerous Coach of the Year awards, including a couple in baseball from the days of the Ohio-Kentucky Athletic Conference. He was All-Area Coach of the Year several times in soccer, including when leading the Tomcats to their only Final Four appearance in that sport.

Sloan’s mother and father moved to Ashland during his sophomore year at Morehead. It became home to him and them.

Sloan’s father was in the service and the family moved from place to place. They were stationed in Germany for eight years which is where Frank learned the language. His mother was his biggest fan, going anywhere the Tomcats went and cheering for her son. She was never shy about offering her opinions either.

“Mom was pretty outspoken,” he said.

Sloan was in the classroom for 10 years and then became an assistant principal under Herb Conley, who he considered a role model both in coaching and administrative work, at Verity Middle School (now Ashland Middle School). Conley and Sloan together returned Verity into a disciplined school with some tough love. “We did a lot of paddling,” Sloan said. “Herb was great. He did an amazing job at Verity.”

Sloan’s success as Ashland’s boys soccer coach, besides the Final Four appearance, included coaching Hill, who went on to a scholarship at UK and the year Smith set a state scoring record. He also coached two of his sons, Brandon and Jordan, who were both accomplished All-Area players. Brandon was even named the All-Area Soccer Player of the Year. Jordan was an All-Area soccer player and also kicked for the football team where he made honorable mention All-Area. Frank’s youngest son, Christian, was a swimmer for the Tomcats.

“They were all good athletes, which made it easier for me,” he said. “I’m proud of all three of them.”

Sloan has been retired for several years and many asked him about his coaching records and success. He decided to do a little research in the Boyd County Public Library and was admittedly astounded at the body of work.

“It’s not something you think about at the time it’s happening,” he said.

But it was never about the records for Sloan. It was always about the kids and it was about winning, which he did in every sport he guided.

Frank met Cheri Hambrick in Ashland and they married in 1977. Cheri, 62, retired from Crabbe Elementary after 20 years as an instructional assistant in 2013. Their oldest son, Brandon, died unexpectedly last December.

Past Distinguished Tomcat honorees

2001-Ralph Felty, All-State football player in 1937 for the Tomcats who went on to play in the Rose Bowl for Duke.

2002-Charlie Reliford, major league baseball umpire who is still regarded as the best “rules man” in the game.

2003-Brandon Webb, major league baseball pitcher and a Cy Young Award winner for goodness sake!

2004-Bob Wright and the Lynch family, a state championship coach of the famed ’61 Tomcats and a family whose talent – and class – was unmatched in Ashland sports. Billy and Bobby Lynch are two of the greatest athletes to ever wear maroon and white.

2005-Salyers family, Greg, Phil and Bryan, all great basketball players and great people who loved their Tomcats.

2006-Conley family, George, Larry, Joe and Linda. Some of the best of the best be it coaching or playing.

2007-Jerry Henderson, one of the greatest all-around athletes in Tomcat history and one of the greatest gentlemen in Ashland history.

2008-Harold Cole, outstanding basketball coach who knew how to win.

2009-Dr. Garner Robinson and David Green, who helped Ashland become the state’s first school with certified trainers.

2010-Dr. Loren Ledford, a diehard Tomcat who starred in basketball and was later a passionate supporter and team doctor.

2011-David Payne, Mr. Tomcat. Need more be said? Dirk Payne did more for the Tomcats than anybody on this list, period.

2012-Dicky Martin, The Voice. He is a strong part of the tradition and will fight you if you say anything bad about a Tomcat. He can say it, because he’s family. But don’t you try it around him.

2013-Mike Johnson, football and baseball player for the Tomcats who gave much back to Ashland’s youth as a baseball coach.

2014-Herb Alban, a 60-year Tomcat fan who has seen a lot during his 98 years. An amazing man whose life could be a movie.

2015-Steve Gilmore, whose lifetime has revolved around the Tomcats as a coach, teacher, administrator, superintendent and now huge fan as he works as mayor of the city.

2016-Herb Conley, an all-sport athlete and a football coach whose legacy is unmatched. Anybody else have a statue?

2017-Mark Maynard, sports historian and former sports editor and editor of The Daily Independent who has written eight books .

2018-Vic Marsh, the all-time winningest coach in Ashland Tomcat football history. He led the Tomcats to the 1990 state championship.

Tomcat baseball family gives back to program

Tomcat baseball family gives back to program

ASHLAND, Ky. – A family steeped in Ashland baseball tradition has given back to the program with a generous donation.

The Tackett family gave the donation in memory of John Tackett and honor of Mike Tackett, who were both star players for the Tomcats.

Mike was part of the Tomcat Dynasty era, graduating in 1969, while John played baseball and football for the Tomcats. He graduated in 1973. John died in 2016.

“Please let the coach know that he’s got fans right here in the World Series champions town of DC!” wrote Elizabeth Laird, Mike’s daughter, who coordinated the donation.

New Ashland head baseball coach Evan Yongue thanked the family for the donation and for being part of the Tomcat baseball family and promised to put the money to good use.

Mike Tackett played on the last Ashland state baseball champion in 1968 and was on the state runner-up team in 1969. The Tomcat Dynasty era is from 1965 to 1969 and included three state championships, a Final Four and a runner-up finish.

His not-so-little brother, John, was a power-hitting catcher for the early 1970s teams. John also was a defensive end on Ashland’s state runner-up football team in 1972.

Ashland was 16th Region runner-up last season. Yongue was promoted from assistant to head coach last spring when David Greene opted not to return. Yongue is also an assistant football coach for the Tomcats.

 

 

2020 CP-1 Hall of Fame class touches all the bases

2020 CP-1 Hall of Fame class touches all the bases

ASHLAND, Ky. – The Ashland baseball CP-1 Hall of Fame class of 2020 has a little bit of everything: Memorable players, outstanding coaches and a man said by many to be one of the best to ever play in Central Park.

In the early 1960s, Wilson Barrow was the hardest-throwing pitcher anybody had ever seen and a tremendous all-around athlete who in high school bridged Booker T. Washington and Ashland. He is part of a 10-man class that is a mix of players and coaches, and a few who did a little of both.

The historic marker at Central Park .

Joining Barrow in the 2020 class are: Scott Crank, Mike Delaney, Brian Finkbone, Bill Hammond, French Harmon, Jon Hart, Cabot Keesey, Mark Moore and Mike Tussey.

The 2020 CP-1 Hall of Fame ceremony will be Aug. 22 at 1 p.m. beside the big diamond. The 10 inductees will bring the total to 70 on the way to 100 selections.


Here is a closer look at the 2020 inductees:

-Wilson Barrow, who played in Ashland’s inaugural Little League season in 1955, could make the mitt pop like few others who ever played in the park. Barrow’s fastball was compared to how Bill Lynch and Don Gullett threw later in the decade.

-Scott Crank was one of Ashland’s best three-sport athletes. He starred in football (quarterback), basketball (point guard) and baseball (shortstop) for the Tomcats in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He was a clutch hitter and slick-fielding shortstop for the Tomcats and Post 76.

-Mike Delaney is going in for his longtime coaching role with Post 76, basically keeping the program alive, but he was an outstanding player in his own rights as a middle infielder in the mid-1970s for the Ashland Tomcats and Post 76.

-Brian Finkbone was the consummate leadoff hitter and the sparkplug for the Tomcats in the mid-1970s. His speed made him a pest for opposing pitchers who had a hard time keeping him off the bases. His all-out style made him a favorite with teammates.

-Bill Hammond has coached at CP-1 for many summers and continues as a co-coach with Delaney for Post 76. He was also a standout pitcher for the Tomcats and Post 76 in the mid-1970s and became an outstanding teacher of the pitching craft.

-French Harmon was a solid contributor as a player for the Tomcats in the late 1970s, but it was his coaching skills that make him a CP-1 Hall of Famer. He led a Connie Mack League resurgence in the late 1980s and early 1990s and was instrumental in CP-1 Hall of Famer Juan Thomas’ career, along with many others.

-Jon Hart’s smooth swing made him a feared hitter for the Tomcats, Post 76, Stan Musial and Marshall University. If he didn’t beat you with his bat, he’d do it with the glove. Hart was one of the top all-around players wherever he played in his career.

-Cabot Keesey spanned the late 1970s and early 1980s as well and was a pure hitter who swung the bat as well as anyone and was also a strong defensive player, both in the infield and outfield, throughout his playing career that included the Tomcats, Post 76 and Stan Musial.

-Mark Moore played for the Tomcats and Post 76 and then another 10 years on the Stan Musial level, making him one of the all-time veterans of the park. He hit for power and played flawlessly at shortstop, making every team he played for better.

-Mike Tussey, who coached youth league baseball for 22 years and won a state championship in 1988 with the Stan Musial adult league where he won more than 200 games in 10 seasons, was also a cable television broadcaster who was in the booth for countless high school and American Legion games in the 1970s and 1980s.

 

Putnam Stadium’s favorite cheerleader wants to gift wrap nice donation

Putnam Stadium’s favorite cheerleader wants to gift wrap nice donation

Donna Childers Suttle, who has a heart for Putnam Stadium like no other, will be using her gift-wrapping skills to raise money for the home of the Ashland Tomcats.

Beginning Thursday, Donna will set up a table at Corbie’s on the corner of 17th Street and Winchester Avenue with her scissors and other tools ready to make your Christmas gift look like nobody else’s. You bring in the gift, the wrapping paper and ribbon and watch her work the magic.

Donna between two of her favorites, the late David Payne, left, and Tomcat broadcasting great Dicky Martin.

She will be there from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Thursday, Friday and Saturday through Dec. 21.

All she wants in return is a donation to the Putnam Stadium Restoration Committee. Several major projects remain including lights, a sound system and field turf. As Donna knows, every little bit helps.

“There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done,” she said. “We’re not finished with her.”

You can bring in gifts from outside Corbie’s to be wrapped or purchase something from the store and have it wrapped and ready to be put under the Christmas tree. She will also add ribbons to wreaths or other Christmas décor. Donna has decades of experience after working a lifetime at South Ashland Florist where her arrangements were always the best around.

Donna and her sister, Mary, closed the business this year. But, of course, Donna is itching to do something and she has no more important project than Putnam Stadium – a place near and dear to her.

The Tomcats didn’t lose a game in Putnam Stadium this year but won’t return until 2020. The rest of Ashland’s playoff games, no matter how many, will be away from home.

Make checks payable to Putnam Stadium Restoration or donate cash to the project. Credit cards cannot be accepted.

I’ll be joining Donna at Corbie’s on Nov. 30 for a book signing of Ashland Tomcats Football: A Total History. Come buy a book, bring in some gift paper and let Donna wrap it up with a special Tomcat touch. There will be no better gift for the Tomcat in your life.

We will be there for several hours on the Saturday after Thanksgiving in downtown Ashland.

Our family mourns passing of great man but hope lives

Our family mourns passing of great man but hope lives

The last week or so has been different and difficult for our family. My wife is in Florida with her mom and dad as they visited Fred’s ailing brother, Lowell. They didn’t know it would be his last week on earth. He died peacefully in the early morning hours of Friday at his home with his wife by his side.

None of us will escape death but we all have the opportunity to choose eternal life through Jesus Christ. It’s up to us. No group policies. Lowell chose that and Jesus called him home. He told his family as much the day before he died. Jesus was telling him to come home, he said. His wife said: “You’ve followed Him your whole life. Go.”

What a testimony! He’s better than ever.

Lowell Boggs, left, with brother Fred Boggs recently in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

But his family mourns. Pam, his wife of 36 years, will be separated from the love of her life the rest of her days on this earth. Fred lost his last sibling, six years his junior. Beth and her sisters have lost a favorite uncle. It’s tough to watch them mourn. But knowing it’s not the end gives them hope.

My heart aches for those left behind, for now. But Lowell’s wish wouldn’t be heartache for anyone. His wish would be for family to join him. A childhood injury took one of his eyes, but he’s seeing more clearly today than he ever did here.

Fred was Big Brother to Lowell. He was six years younger. Tom and Pauline Boggs raised some fine young men and young women. They were respectful, hard-working and compassionate. Fred is the last of five siblings who always gave more than they received. And they did it with no fanfare, because they weren’t doing it for attention. They were doing it because it was right. Lowell was like that, a friend to many. He gave so many a hand up when they needed it without anybody looking, and isn’t that how true character is defined?  He didn’t do it to say, “Hey, look at me!” He did it because he was raised that way and through his Christian convictions.

As people come to the house to pay respects, Beth has heard stories of Lowell’s generosity and the difference he made in lives there on so many different levels. Many say they owe their very lives to him. He’d tell them to give it to Jesus.

He was a school administrator and teacher by trade, a Sunday school teacher who expounded wisdom and someone who lived his life with the Lord first in his mind. What would Jesus do? That might as well have been his calling card.

I knew Lowell through our visits to Florida and, looking back, they were too infrequent. Life gets in the way sometimes. But I’ve heard the stories from Fred, who loved his little brother.  I always loved talking to Lowell and Pam. She loved him like nobody else. She’s hurting today and will for a while until she finds her “new normal.” The memories are vivid and she will have times of laughter and times of tears. But the life her husband led and is the life she has led, is filled with Christian love in her own way. God will wrap His arms around her. Rest assured of that promise.

Lowell and Fred are lookalikes and act-a-likes, too. My heart breaks for my father-in-law – the greatest man I know – as he has dealt with a lot of death recently. His best friend Harold Cathey, longtime friend and work partner Jim Downs and fellow Marine Keith Waggoner all died within a few months of each other. And now his last sibling has gone on to heaven. Fred hurts inside, but he has hope that this isn’t the end.
He also has a wife who is a Prayer Warrior like no other. Believe me, you want Alva Boggs praying for you. I love this woman, truly a second mother to me, and one of the greatest women on the planet. Fred is fortunate to have her praying for him. When she’s not sure what to do, she prays. There is nothing better.

It’s been a hard week on Beth, too. She tackles anything and everything that God tasks her to do, the most amazing woman on earth. She has been a friend, not just a niece, to her uncle and aunt this week. This would have been a much more difficult few days for them without her. I’ll never be able to thank her enough for the care she showed my mother in her last months of life. I’m sure Pam feels the same way about her today. Beth’s experience with my mother gave her the strength to be there for her uncle in ways that nobody could understand.

And for those who know Beth, she’s cut from the same cloth as her mother when it comes to being a Prayer Warrior.

How can I ever fail with those two praying for me?

Family is a blessing.

And, even in times of mourning, God is good.

Click HERE for a link to the obituary for Lowell.