By Jefferson David Tant
On July 23, a beloved brother and friend was called to his long awaited home. Lemuel Applegate would have been 84 years old in mid-August, and he and his good wife, Grace, were planning to come to Atlanta for his birthday, as had been their custom the past few years. But his spirit departed, and now we shall have to wait for that glad reunion until we shall all be gathered around that great white throne.
Two days later, it was this writer’s honor to speak at the funeral service in Chipley, Florida, honoring a request made by Brother Applegate some years ago. His earthly tabernacle was laid to rest beneath the bright skies in a country church-yard.
I know of none who better fit Christ’s words concerning the woman in Mark 14:8: “She hath done what she could.” I never knew the man when he and his wife were not working for the Lord. At 71, he called me to come and help establish a church in Vernon, Florida. When I arrived, he had erected a tent on the square, and we preached for nine days, leaving a band of six disciples meeting there, with L. L. Applegate preaching. In the ensuing year, he had secured an old house and had remodeled it into a meeting place.
At 75, they wrote to me offering to take two homeless girls into their own home. Around then they took an old lady whom no one else cared for, and kept her and loved her until she died. About three years ago we received a call from Panama City stating that Brother Applegate was near death-could we come? Imagine our surprise when we arrived at the motel owned by mutual friends, and we were told to wait there until the Applegates arrived! Sure enough, after a few minutes he came walking in, weakened, but very much alive. As we talked and visited, he was making plans for us to hold another tent meeting near his birthplace in far western Florida. In his 80’s, he went and worked with the church in Okeechobee, Florida. At the age of 80, when the Applegates were visiting our home in Atlanta, they walked through the Embry Hills neighborhood meeting people and passing out religious tracts.
He never wanted to quit, but of course death had the final say. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow with them” (Rev. 14:13).
This humble servant of God is survived by his wife, Grace, by his two daughters, Virgie Duncan and Mary Ellen Vandermolen, by grandchildren, and by a great number of brethren and friends whose lives have been enriched by having known this kind and gentle man.
Truth Magazine XIX: 56, p. 886
December 11, 1975