Remember Ellis and Ken

Published 11:46 am Friday, December 26, 2008

Ellis Fincher Sr. always reminded me of me: you know, big guy but not exactly a hunk, friendly and engaging, also pretty savvy. Guess that was mostly wishful thinking on my part, but he always seemed to be as glad to see me as I was to see him. We had a lot of pleasant exchanges, some discussions, enough to realize we were pretty much in agreement‐at least as much as two staunch Southern Baptists could be expected to be.Ellis became the Mayor of Tryon again some years after his first go at it, and Fran was President of our Lions Club then, too. She confided to him that she understood why he wanted to be Mayor: to get his picture in the Bulletin as often as she did! Much laughter and head-shaking all around. I put Ellis right up there with my former employer and lifelong friend, former Mayor Clement D. Stevens of Tryon Builders Supply fame.It was a sad time when his beloved Ann left him bereft, but he managed to go on living in their house and taking care of himself. Then he lost most of one leg to complications from his diabetes, but his indomitable spirit learned to cope with that, too. He told me that he learned quickly not to roll out of bed immediately on awakening, after some pretty hard falls to the floor. Later, he lost part of the other leg and a table saw malfunction cut off some of my fingers. We then compared notes on the weird sensations coming from our missing parts. When I mentioned feeling sometimes that something was under the nail of my absent middle finger, he remarked that at least he did not have to try to cut his toenails any more. Always looking on the bright side, that Ellis!Friend and fellow Columbus Lion Ken Batchler made as much lemonade as he could of the lemons he was dealt by his cancer. We dedicated our Lions Club&squo;s walk in the Relay for Life to Ken, and there were too many Ken luminaries to count. I am still wearing my bracelet that reminded us to pray for Ken and Barbara.Of course we were not the first to dub them Barbie and Ken, but with their good looks and obvious devotion to each other, it certainly fit. They have three lovely daughters, who are as different as adopted kids would be, but life with four women in his household just seems to have made Ken a most happy fella. Ken&squo;s full life left no time for a home computer or the Internet, but he did like to watch classic movies on TV. I enjoy using my computer, and it is essential for a lot of what I do now. But the Internet also brings lots of chaff in e-mails from my friends. Since I believe that laughter is good medicine, I printed out the better jokes etc and took a sheaf of them to Ken when I visited. They were good therapy because they were new to him!We soon learned that we did not have to discuss many things because we would be &dquo;preaching to the choir.&dquo; But some things have to be talked about anyway, like flying airplanes, working on cars, raising kids, and taking care of house and yard. So we did a good bit of &dquo;hangar flying&dquo; and speculating on what would make the cars of the future go. And of course there were tales of kids&squo; and grandkids&squo; exploits and accomplishments, vacations and vocations. We always had a good time together; I even let him talk some!Ellis was lifetime Treasurer of the Tryon Lions, and Ken was a faithful member of our Columbus club. When we meet Lions from anywhere we know that their hearts are in the right place and the only introduction we need is the names we go by. We say of such people, &dquo;May their tribe increase,&dquo; and these two have certainly seen to that! I am indeed blessed by having served with Ellis and Ken.

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