Thoughts On A Good Friend, J. Walker Whittle

     As I mentioned last Sunday, J. Walker Whittle went to his eternal reward last week. He was 96. No one who spent any time around him would ever guess that he was that old. Indeed, the word “old” never did fit brother Whittle. He was a good friend and not just to me. If you gave Walker Whittle the opportunity he would be your friend too.

     When I proposed to Ginger she knew that I wanted to preach and that I had decided I wanted to go to Freed-Hardeman to gain a better understanding of the Bible and the work preachers do. I am forever thankful that she agreed because I never would have made it without her. Never. When we arrived at the college we were under quite a bit of pressure to make a living and get the school work done properly. To say we were both busy is an understatement. But we were happy and getting it done.

     We met brother Whittle and he informed us that he had an interest in folks who came to Freed-Hardeman from Georgia (we had moved up from Atlanta where Ginger and I worked and I had obeyed the gospel). He must have noticed our intense schedule. He stopped me one day and asked “Do you have your preaching shoes?” Well, I wanted to preach, but never had. But I knew enough to say “Yes Sir!” The result of that conversation was that we moved to Scotts Hill, I was able to work with brother Whittle, and we got to live in a great small house belonging to Marse and Josephine MacPeake (Marse was an elder at Scotts Hill). The arrangement came just in the nick of time for us in so many ways.

     But the biggest blessing for me was working with brother Whittle. I had come from the business world and he understood that. He headed the Business Department at Freed and had ample experience in the world outside of church work. He was a fine preacher too. He was a great example for me as a new preacher. He was true to the Book and sensitive to the spiritual needs of the people with whom he worked.

    We finished at Freed-Hardeman in the summer of 1978. The next thing I knew I was to “try out” at the great Atwood, Tennessee church. I never knew for sure but I will always believe that brother Whittle was doing his best to pull the levers for me there too. Since then he has encouraged me (and countless others).

Consider these few words an expression of thanks to a man who truly practiced the art of being a good friend.