Remember When: Remembering Barbara Belthoff

Published 4:10 pm Thursday, December 21, 2017

Another “acquaintance of long standing” has left us abruptly—Fran and I just had a nice chat with Barbara Belthoff at the hospital only a week before her obituary shocked us. She seemed to be fine! I have been exchanging pleasantries with her and her husband Richard for years. I served with her on the board of Second Wind many years ago.

I learned from her obit that she had given more than 5,000 hours as a volunteer at St. Luke’s! No hospital can operate for long without their volunteer work force; their volunteer strength is now about half what it was only a few years ago. A lack of volunteers contributed to the unfortunate demise of two arguably monumental gatherings in our area: the nationally sanctioned BBQ Festival at Harmon Field and the Green Creek Heritage Festival at their community center. The Saluda and Tryon Lions turned in their charter, leaving only the Columbus Lions in Polk County. At only half strength, our Lions Club is barely able to function—and demands for our services are increasing . . .

We Lions take Christmas baskets to our Visually Impaired Persons (VIPs) and we are always joyfully received. We met (new to us) Ruth Thomas at Ridgerest, and she is a delight. Rhonda Greene (our DSS contact for VIPs) was there, too, so we had a real fine visit with lots of laughter. Ruth had a framed certificate with the words “Thunder and Lightning” that caught my attention. She said that South Carolina recognizes volunteers with that award; must be something like our Second Wind recognition.

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Speaking of recognition, I was surprised and honored to be awarded a Melvin Jones Fellowship by my Columbus Lions Club. Melvin Jones was the founder of what became Lions International; the award named for him is the highest one given to Lions. It comes with a beautiful plaque on polished black walnut. Frank Smith lugged his home tucked under his arm; the late Chuck Trevathan received his on his deck as he was homebound when we got it to him. Chuck’s is in our Lions meeting room at Calvert’s now; mine is displayed on my mantel for the time being.

It is good to see the “Polar Express” train chugging along in Stearns Park, Cole Lumbus with his Santa cap pulled down tight to keep him warm, and the lighted snowflakes added to the Christmas décor of Mills Street in Columbus. Good to see the Nativity scenes displayed again at Columbus Baptist and Presbyterian churches to remind us what we celebrate at Christmas. 

I’d like to add another cherished Christmas memory: I came home on leave when my cousin Mickie Rippy (now Peterson) was about 5 years old. I had just sung Messiah in a St Louis church choir and found that Aunt Mildred had taught little Mickie “Adeste Fidelis” in Latin, no less! So I proceeded to teach her “Come Unto Him” from Messiah. I can still hear that charming little voice singing that so clearly and confidently. 

Our Christmas is shaping up to be a wonderful one with both our son Thomas and daughter Sharon here with her family. Granddaughter Taylor is a sophomore at the Fashion Institute in New York and grandson Austin is a junior in high school. Austin will doubtless add to my understanding of the wondrous android cellphone that Sharon gave me. My old flip phone was smarter than I, and the android is exponentially more so. 

Fran and I will also celebrate our 63rd wedding anniversary. Surely happiness will abound for us; we hope that you will also enjoy your Christmas!