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This past week, Jenine and I have been in Alabama for the death and funeral of her father, Thurman Kimbrough.  He was the epitome of that great generation that built this nation.  Thurman lived honorably as a result of his deep devotion to faith in God, his love of family, hard work, sacrifice, and his courageous determination to persevere.  I was blessed to have a Godly biological father and blessed a second time to marry into a family that had a mighty man of God as their patriarch.  It was a special honor for me to be asked by the family to be their spokesman at his funeral….to speak the truths that I had personally come to know so well about him along with those things that they had shared with me.

T.R. Kimbrough lived 84 years on the same road in the farming community of Red Rock in North Alabama.  Born in a small home on a farm, he walked about two miles to school as a boy, farmed the fields around his house, and lived in a home with nine other siblings.  When it came time to marry, he met a beautiful red-headed girl on Colbert Mountain named Nettie, and they would be married for 64 years.  He knew what it was to work hard and to labor for long hours.

While rearing five children of their own, Thurman always had a farm raising 500-700 hundred acres of wheat and soy beans, as well as caring for herd of 100-125 head of cattle.   That was his “day job”.  For 25 years while farming and caring for his family, he worked grave-yard shift for Ford Motor Company that had a piston die-cast plant in Sheffield, AL.  When the plant closed, he commuted over 50 miles to Decatur, AL to work at GM for 14 additional years in the auto industry. As if working all night, farming in the daytime while sleeping a few hours when possible was not enough, he served on the Colbert County School Board for 18 years because of his determination to provide the best possible education for his children and for those of his friends.  He was the best kind of “builder”….he delighted in finding ways to “build up” young people to “soar like eagles” in their journey of life.  He was a confidant and counselor to many of them as they matured and became young adults.

There was so much about him that so many folks admired and longed to emulate.  He had a huge heart for people and taught his children to care for widows, the elderly, the jobless, or the sick.  He often took his two sons to cut wood with him when they were boys and teens.  Every time they cut a load of wood for their family’s use, they cut an extra load for some widow that could use the wood with winter coming.  He would take them with him to put groceries on the porch of those that had lost jobs, or were alone due to the death of a mate, or to the elderly.  He would have the boys put bags of groceries on the porch, ring the door bell, and leave before the family came to the door. When the boys commented that the people would not know who left the groceries, he would tell them, “The food tastes just as good without folks knowing who delivered them.  Plus, the family can live with their heads up without feeling that their neighbors saw them as poor.”  How very wise is that!

He was a generous, caring, bold, courageous, steadfast, and servant-hearted man.  He lived his whole life within a couple of miles of where he was born, but his influence through his children has reached some of the most influential board rooms, corporations, hearts of hurting people in many locales, and in lots of church settings in America through what he taught his children.

He went to sleep on the evening of December 13, and woke up the next morning in the presence of Jesus…alive forevermore!  Thank you, Thurman, for showing us younger men how to be mighty men and for the way that you and Nettie taught your daughters in how to be gracious ladies!  You and Nettie surely did make my life richer from the moment I fell in love with your oldest daughter, Jenine, and for the love you have shown to me always.  I have seen in you what life can be, and pray that I will be successful in demonstrating what I have learned through your sure, steadfast, and vivid examples!