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Memories of Bill Evans

By Randy Garrison 

From a song by George Jones: Who’s gonna fill their shoes? Who’s gonna stand that tall? Yes I wonder, who’s gonna fill their shoes?” 

I have written these words several times over the past few years. There are folks who come into your life and enrich it just for knowing them. One of the hard parts of getting older is saying not goodbye but so long for now. While it is hard to see these folks – our friends – transition, we have the faith, hope and knowledge that we will see them again. 

I became better aquatinted with Bill Evans around 30odd years ago. I became a part of First United Methodist Church when Lynn and I married in 1986. A few years later, I joined the Chancel Choir, and Bill was a longtime member of the tenor section. His greeting was, “Did we vote to let you in?” Now, that was not meant to be a dig at you, but was just an example of his humor. 

He and Bill Padgett both have great first tenor voices. He really enjoyed singing and being a part of the Chancel Choir.  

He also would share his opinion about what he thought. I can remember there were a couple of songs he did not care for and did not mind letting that be known. I think “dad gum” might have been used on occasion. But it was all in good fun.  

By the way, I concurred with him on a few of those songs, as well. 

It was a great group and still is, even though I stopped being a member of the choir a few years ago.  

He could share really good stories and always had some great oneliners. Sometimes he could get you in trouble with some of his comments – especially they were humorous and the group was about to pray.  

I will not share those here, but if you will ask me in person, I will be happy to do so. I still laugh when I think about some of his comments. 

I share some of these humorous things not to be disrespectful of Bill but because I think he would appreciate it as well. He always had a greeting for you and many times good advice, as well.  

If you attended Hartselle baseball or football games, you would see Bill there hard at work. I believe he filmed Hartselle football games for the coaches for more than 50 years. He did that because he not only enjoyed it but to give back to his community.  

I was about 25 feet from Bill the day he fell from the scissor lift filming a scrimmage game, I believe in 2010. I can still hear the sound it made when he fell. He was tough man and made it through that accident. 

When I became mayor, I had the pleasure of seeing Bill when he came to city hall for a Planning Commission meeting or BZA meeting. He served a cumulative 60 years on those boards.  

As mayor I have the privilege of filling positions on the Planning Commission. A few years back, Bill’s term had ended, and I called to make sure he would like to remain on the board. He replied that he would be honored to continue to serve and thanked me for asking him to do so. 

am glad we were able to honor him last year for his service to his community and to the City. He did this because he believed in giving back to the hometown he loved. 

When Sarah Ann passed a few years ago, you could certainly tell how much it affected Bill. There was what seemed to be a sadness in his voice, and it was easy to see that a big part of his heart left when she passed. But I do not think I had a conversation with Bill after Sarah Ann passed during which he did not share with me that I needed to tell Lynn each day that I loved her. Even in his grief, he shared words of wisdom. 

So long for now, my friend; go rest high on that mountain – your work here is done.  

You are once again reunited with Sarah Ann, and I bet Ed Huggins was next in line to welcome you into glory. 

I think of this verse from the Gaither song many times when someone passes: 

And then one day, I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to victory,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives! 

I am sure Bill sang the words to this song many times over his life, but this week he saw the lights of glory for himself. 

Prayers for God’s peace and comfort for the Evans family in the days and weeks to come. 

He left big shoes to fill. 

 

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