By James R. Cope
They all showed up the same day and all except one left about the same time two weeks later. They came from “all over” in response to a genuine need of Florida College. Some were experts in carpentry, some in painting, some in general maintenance. All of them are active and well-along-in-years citizens in heaven’s kingdom. They paid their own expenses to come from several states to be “Good Samaritans” in behalf of the young people who attend Florida College and to lend a helping hand to an already overworked year-round maintenance crew of Florida College. Some of them had sent their children here and grandchildren of some have been or are now enrolled.
The men who responded to our new President’s request are the following: Gene Compton, Baytown, Texas; Willard Derryberry, Spring Hill, Tennessee; Jack Dugger, Nashville, Tennessee; Jeff Haselden, Sr., Luqoff, South Carolina; and Don Roberts, Brentwood, Tennessee.
Any person who has spent even a short time on the campus of Florida College is aware of various on-the-spot needs of this school. Some of these needs are obvious at a casual glance but to the carpenter, painter, plumber or general maintenance worker, that which needs attention immediately becomes an “eyesore.” Fortunately Florida College is rich in such “friends to youth.”
Our new president, “Colly” Caldwell, is well acquainted with many men who qualify as “friends” to hundreds of young men and women who have come here as students and left as graduates. Some have sent their own children and others have sent their dollars or become “overnight” parents to students and teachers visiting their areas in recruiting students, traveling with the chorus, debate, or athletic teams. Many who have never been on campus are among the most loyal supporters the College has.
So what did Colly do in his first few days as President of Florida College? The answer: He called on men who could carpenter, plumb, paint and pray to come for a few days in August to work with their heads and hands because their hearts were known to be identified with what the College has done for their own children and seeks to do for their grandchildren! Most of these men I have known firsthand for some 30 years or longer and one was a classmate 57 years ago.
With their own heads and hands these men have attended to physical needs on the Florida College campus which have gone unattended for many years – not because none was aware of these needs but because there were already a dozen needs ahead and crying for attention. These men have given more than money. They have given themselves! Yes, their time, their expertise, their energies, but most and best of all – themselves! This is the spirit that has made Florida College possible and will keep it going as long as there is need for the type of education this school offers.
Only one other man has been officially connected with Florida College longer than I and none other knows better than I the thousand-and-one things needed to “make the old mare go! ” When I see men my age willing to give their time, money, energies, and expertise as these men who have been here for the past two weeks have given, I know that there must be hundreds of others alive who thank God that their own sons and daughters were able to drink from the same fount of which they drank decades ago.
With the resignation of brother Lloyd Copeland from the Board of Directors at its last annual meeting, not one of the original Board members remains. Yet all present Board members I have known many years. There is not one of their number I do not trust implicitly regarding both character and his soundness “in the faith once delivered to the saints.” Practically all of them are alumni or sent their children here. This Directorate made no mistake in its choice of Colly Caldwell to be the new President of the College, successor to Bob F. Owen, who served well for nine years.
The response of aging brethren of many talents to Colly’s invitation to come and assist mentally and physically is evidence that those who have known Florida College through the years believe it deserves their sweat as well as their dollars and tears. That God may bless you richly with students and finances essential to Florida College’s continuing progress is the prayer and hope of your friend and brother, James R. Cope.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 21, p. 646
November 7, 1991