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My wife s a native of Jackson, MS (really Ridgeland just north of Jackson). We met the fall of our freshman year on the steps of the girls’ dorm. I and some other guys were playing guitars for a “sing-a-long” before the dorms closed. The wind was blowing the pages of my chord charts, and I asked the blonde serenading in a gorgeous alto voice next to me to hold the pages for me, and, as the old saying goes, the rest is history. The animated conversation continues to this day.
Jean had taken summer courses in the school’s quarter system, so we were able to get married in February of our senior year in 1972. We do not have children, but when I was a campus minister, I used to reply to that question, “Yes, we have about 60, and they’re all in college!” Jean is an executive assistant and paralegal of a large law firm with regional offices in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Houston, Jackson, Memphis, Nashville, Mobile, Birmingham, and Washington DC.
While we do not have children, we do have three lovely godchildren, Lindsey, Lauren, and Carissa. These sweet ladies belong to our close friends from campus ministry days in Birmingham. At the time the pictures below were taken, Lindsey (right) was a college senior and an honors student working a double major in English and Political Science. Lindsey now is married and teaches inner-city high school. Lauren (middle) was a college sophomore with an all-tuition and books academic scholarship pursuing a drama major. Lauren now works in the health care industry and also is married; they are expecting their first daughter, Avery. Carissa (left) was our straight A’s high school junior talented in both piano and guitar, and showing her own flair for drama. Carrisa now has finished college and is working in social ministry.
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We have owned three dogs. Our first was a little Chihuahua mix named Pepper. Pepper was our trick dog, a fast study, master of show and stunts. Our hearts were broken to have to give up Pepper to an adoptive family when we moved to seminary after college. Our other two dogs were German Schnauzers. Sadie was from multi-champion showdog stock, with absolutely gorgeous furnishings. She held her head high—a queen, strong willed, and in charge. At 15, Sadie passed away in our arms the day after Christmas. Tilly was the sweetest, gentlest dog who ever lived. Tilly helped me write my Greek grammar, sitting in my lap with her chin propped on my forearm as I typed away. We had a “Run, Tilly!” game where I made her wait at the top of the stairs until I gave the command for her to streak down into the den. We had to put Tilly to sleep at age 15 just days before Hurricane Katrina hit.
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I have kept freshwater aquariums for years. I find a peace and serenity in my office with my waterworld friends. They rise up to greet me each morning in grand anticipation of the day’s first feeding. They then follow my body language ever afterwards throughout the rest of the day wondering if a sudden movement in my office chair might portend a treat coming their way. The soundtrack on the aquarium movie is one of my original compositions (© Gerald L. Stevens).
“Aquarium Serenity”
“Run, Tilly!”