A Birthday Greeting And A Sad Farewell

By James R. Cope

(Editor’s Note: When we called brother Cope relative to writing something for this Memorial Special, he suggested that we might publish his personal letter to brother Cogdill on the occasion of brother Cogdill’s 78th birthday, April 24, 1985.)

My dear Roy,

On this, your 78th birthday, also the birth date of our oldest daughter, Connie Cope Benson, Georgia Deane and I join your multitude of friends in wishing you a very joyous occasion.

As I reflect upon my more than forty year’s association with you, several things particularly come to mind:

1. Our first face-to-face acquaintance was in the early 1940’s. You were in a series of meetings with W.E. Brightwell and the Waverly-Belmont church in Nashville. I was teaching at David Lipscomb College and preaching for the Belmont church. I came to hear you several times, and this began the relationship which has continued uninterrupted till this day. Avidly I took notes as you preached and I still have several of them.

2. To some degree you were responsible for my meeting the girl of my dreams. It was you who recommended me for my first Texas meeting Preston Road in Dallas — where I met the beautiful and dedicated Georgia Deane Combs, June 4, 1944.

3. In the intervening years we have met many times in various places and our paths have crossed many times. The only meeting in which I ever preached where you were living and laboring was Nacogdoches, Texas, in early March, 1960. Even though I had been preaching 25 years, I still recall how inadequate I felt in each lesson because you were in the audience. I understood well that you wanted me to do well and that I was there because you had asked the brethren to invite me, yet I was on “needles and pins” and felt like a Little Leaguer pitching to Babe Ruth. Nevertheless, you were there “rooting” for me and encouraging the brethren to attend every service. (I suppose the elders felt I gave general satisfaction for they never invited me back!) It was also in March 3 (Wednesday night) of this same week that your beloved Lorraine became so seriously ill that only a few days later she was moved first to Tyler and then to Houston for diagnosis and operations which led to her demise back home in June of the same year. About five weeks after Lorraine’s passing, I closed a meeting on Sunday night at Pruitt and Lobit in Baytown. I was to begin a meeting in Blytheville, Arkansas the night following. As I now recall you were to begin a meeting somewhere north of there either the same night or shortly thereafter and asked me to ride with you. Never shall I forget those hours together! Each of us would drive to rest the other. We would laugh awhile and cry awhile. I picked your mind for all mine would hold. I never felt closer to you in my life except the other time which I shall mention presently.

4. Our next relatively close association was the Florida College term of 1969-70 when you drove daily from Orlando to teach our young men preparing to preach. Never I think, did you ever give more of your physical self for such a long period as you did in this 200-mile daily drive. I was so involved in administrative affairs that we spent precious few hours together. It was much the same with Homer Hailey. After we had administrative offices over the Chatlos Library, there was only a wall between Homer and me, yet we hardly saw each other except to say “hello” as we would pass going and coming in and out of our offices. That’s just getting “too busy”!

5. Then came your move back to Houston and in 1972 our trip to Bible lands. It was indeed pleasurable yet, again, there was little time for personal visitation.

6. Except for our long ride through Texas and Arkansas, no event do I now or shall I ever remember more pleasantly and profitably than that of this last December 6 or 7 when Dee Bowman, Harold Fite, and I visited with you in your home-the same day that hard-headed you would have it no other way than you foot the bill for our delightful lunch! What a day that was! I felt that we were wearing you to a frazzle. I was torn between my selfish desire to hear every word your weak voice spoke and my judgment that said we were unduly imposing upon your willingness to feed us spiritually as well as keep us laughing at your humorous stories.

And when we separated that day! Oh, my brother, I can still feel the warmth of the gentle but strong embrace of our parting moments. Somehow I was conscious of a similar scene, at the home of C.R. Nichol in Clifton, Texas, when he and C.E. Wooldridge held each other and wept as these two white-headed saints, long-time preaching and debating companions, bade each other goodbye-probably for their last time.

Even though I would like to see you again before either of us meets the Lord, his angels, and all who have loved and labored in his kingdom and for his Cause, no memory of you and what you have meant to the gospel of our Savior and to me personally can ever erase from my awareness that in those few moments I was holding in my arms the physical body of a man who was a giant in his day; your life hams blessed thousands through pen and preachment for two-thirds of a century, and your commitment to “preach the word” and your firmness of resolution to be faithful at all costs has helped otherwise weary soldiers to keep their armor on and the battle going.

I love you, Roy Cogdill!

Guardian of Truth XXIX: 14, pp. 429-430
July 18, 1985