By James D. Yates
(Editor’s Note: Because of the press of business affairs, brother James D. Yates, an elder of the Fry Road congregation in Houston, Texas where Roy held membership and a close personal friend of Roy’s for thirty-one years, could not write a special article for this Memorial Issue. I have, with his permission, copied and edited for publication from a tape recording the speech brother Yates delivered the evening of April 23, 1985 at a “get together” honoring Roy. This was just a little more than three weeks before Roy’s death. Brother Yates also spoke at Roy’s funeral service, Wednesday May 15. Brother Yates has read and approved the article which follows. JWA).
The service tonight has been long and some of you may be growing tired and sleepy, so I will try to keep my remarks as brief as possible. However, the love I have for this man cannot be put in a thimble. The love he has extended to me, to my family, and to the friends whom I loved over these thirty-one years we have known him so well cannot be briefed.
As an elder in the Lord’s church, I should like to speak first of Roy in his relationship to the elders of the churches with which he has labored. In this respect, he is one of the greatest. There never has been an eldership with which he has been associated that did not benefit by knowing him. He has never usurped their authority nor their responsibilities, but he has always encouraged them and helped them to do their duty. He has always insisted that they keep the Word of Truth before the church and practice what they preached-doing all in the spirit of Truth. He has ever exhorted them to be leaders, to be examples to the flock, to love every minute of their service while extending to them the help necessary to make such possible.
Through the many years of his service as a preacher of the Word, he has received calls almost daily from elders of the churches over this entire land asking him to come and help them with their problems or seeking his advice concerning them. Hardly a day passes, even now, that someone doesn’t call seeking advice concerning a problem in the church.
Many years ago, a faith healer came to Bowling Green, Kentucky, and stirred up much excitement. He boasted that he would meet anybody in debate on the subject of miracles which he professed to perform. Roy was in the area in a meeting. The elders of one of the churches in Bowling Green called Roy and asked him to meet the false teacher. Roy was, of course, not specifically prepared for the debate, but he accepted the responsibility. With less than a week to prepare, he met the so-called “faith healer” before 14,000 people. This was the largest audience Roy ever spoke before face to face. So successfully did Roy meet his opponent that the false teacher closed his meeting and left town with his women associates. A few months ago, I had the privilege of visiting the location where this took place. Elders called and, though not specifically prepared for the encounter, Roy rose to the challenge and did a masterful job in the defense of the truth.
Not many months ago, Roy received a call from the elders of a church in a distant city. One of those elders is present tonight. They said, “Come, help us, we need you!” Roy was in ill health. Sister Cogdill was not well. They had their hands full of their own problems. Yet, they went and spent three months assisting the church in overcoming its difficulties.
Roy has always been ready to answer a call from anyone who needed help as long as he was convinced that truth was at stake. In such situations, he did not seek to impose his will on the basis of his “giant” capabilities, but as one who sought only to see truth prevail. Therefore, he allowed truth to adjust the matter.
Several years ago, the need for a graded series of Bible class literature for use among conservative congregations was called to brother Cogdill’s attention and his help enlisted in getting such in print. Risking a considerable portion of his personal funds and those of his wife, he bought and caused to be reworked and published a sound series of literature already in publication. He also, with the cooperation of others, launched an effort to produce and publish a completely new series by conservative brothers and sisters in Christ. These two excellent sets of literature, “Walking With God” and “Truth In Life,” are currently available to the churches. That they are is largely due to the self-sacrificing spirit and keen foresight of brother Cogdill.
Roy is such a strong man! He is positive in his nature. He does not know the meaning of “negative” when he sees something that needs to be done. He can and does preach negatively against all error that obstructs the truth, but relative to the work of advancing truth, he is preeminently positive. Harry Pickup Jr. tells one of his well-known stories to illustrate Roy’s positive attitude. He and Roy were driving down the highway discussing some Bible topic. Roy was strongly pressing his point of view. Harry asked, “Roy, have you ever been wrong about anything?” Quick as a flash, Roy answered, “No, but if I was, I’d correct it I” Yes, Roy has had to correct some things, but they have been few. There has been little necessity for him to correct many things related to spiritual matters because he has relied from his youth upon the Word. His strength has come from his confidence in and his reliance upon what the Word says. When you rely on it, you don’t have to make many changes, brethren!
Roy has always been a preacher. Harry Pickup, Jr. also tells a story involving Roy and a highway patrolman between Atlanta, Georgia, and Tampa, Florida. A car full of preachers traveling together was stopped for speeding. Roy was the driver and in the heat of a Bible discussion, his foot had grown heavy on the accelerator. Harry Pickup and H.E. Phillips were among those riding in the car. Brother Phillips was much disturbed to be stopped by an officer of the law, but brother Pickup said, “Don’t worry, policemen don’t know how to give Roy a ticket! ” Looking back at Roy and the policeman, brother Phillips observed that Roy was talking to the officer with much vigor and poking him in the chest with his index finger. Brother Phillips became more disturbed envisioning all of them in jail. Harry continued to insist that they had nothing to worry about. Directly, Roy returned, got in the car and drove toward Tampa. Unable to restrain himself, brother Phillips asked, “Roy, what happened back there?”
Roy replied, “Oh, nothing. I found out that he was a member of the church out of duty, so I told him he ought to get right with the Lord, and he’s going back to church and repent next Sunday.”
What a man! And what a wife he has! I cannot say enough about her, nor can he. At this time, when he needs her so desperately, she is there, twenty-four hours of the day. The devotion that she is extending him now defies description.
I was twenty-eight years old when Roy and I became friends. He was forty-seven. When we met, it was love at first sight. I had been a Christian for sixteen years, but it was not until then that I began to really learn the truth. It was then I began to learn what truth and duty were, and what it took to stand for the truth and the reason why: Christ died for it! Roy and I became good friends then and have remained so until this day. We have not always agreed about everything nor have we always even been agreeable, but we have remained friends, forgiving and forgetting, knowing that we could always depend upon each other when the chips were down!
Had Roy Cogdill continued his law practice in Dallas, he no doubt would be today a very wealthy man, but because he is first and foremost a gospel preacher, he gave it up to preach the truth. If there ever was a motto that perfectly describes Roy Cogdill it is: Buy the truth, and sell it not. There is no telling how many times he has said to me, “James, whatever the price you must pay, buy the truth, then guard it, cherish it, love it, and keep it; do not sell it for any price.”
Roy, there are so many instances in our lives to illustrate what you have meant to me, my lovely wife, and our daughters that space will not permit my mentioning them. You are the dearest friend that we could have. You have been an outstanding influence on our lives. We are indebted to you beyond our ability to repay. Not only are we indebted to you with reference to spiritual matters, but also in other less important matters. Your advice has been sought and successfully used time and again. Even our financial success in life has been attained in a great measure as a result of your counsel.
We feel deeply privileged to have known you through these many years. We consider you a giant whose life has blessed thousands, whose sacrifices to serve the Lord have been tremendous, and whose devotion from earliest youth to the principle of “buying the truth and selling it not” has been the source of your inspiration to us all. You are our most beloved friend and brother and we love you now and have loved you for all the thirty-one years we have known you.
Confident that the most important influence in your life, next to Christ, was your deceased mother, Mildred and I secured from sister Cogdill a small, full-length snapshot of your mother. We have had it enlarged and framed and we present it to you with all our love on your seventy-eighth birthday. May the Lord bless you and keep you in the hollow of His hand is our prayer.
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 14, pp. 428-429
July 18, 1985