Published Sunday, Aug. 27, 2000
Honorees share humility, value of faith, familyBy Sherris Moreira-Byers
Herald Staff Writer
WHEN I was asked to write stories on this year's three Buhl Day honorees, I saw it as an interesting, but routine, assignment.
I see now, they were divine appointments.
At each interview with honorees Olive M. Ward Brown, Rita Karing and George Gerhart, I felt like I could sit at their feet and bask in their wisdom.
And of course, all three would say, "What are you talking about?"
That is the first lesson I learned from them: humility.
None of the three could understand why he or she had been chosen.
"So many other people do good things in this valley. I don't understand why I was chosen," said Rita Karing of Sharon. Gerhart and Ms. Brown echoed her sentiments.
Gerhart said, "I'm uncomfortable with the award a little bit, because it kind of feels like I'm bragging or boasting, when doing things for others is just what I was raised to do."
And after I read their lists of volunteerism, community and church involvement and family devotion, I thought: "If that's not a big deal, little else is."
That brings me to the second lesson they taught me: Family is important.
Each honoree had strong childhood memories of family and neighbors helping others.
"The memory of my parents feeding men out of work during the Depression is one I treasure," said Mrs. Karing.
Ms. Brown recalled loving neighbors who saw beyond racial lines, and Gerhart remembered his family helping others in his church and neighborhood.
"It was always that way; my parents were always active in the church and the community," Gerhart said.
That brings me to the third lesson I learned from these giving and loving people: Keep the faith.
All three professed a strong faith in Jesus Christ, depending on him through good and bad. Their service to others is just a reflection of their love for him.
"I had no support system outside of my church, which was the greatest support system of all," said Ms. Brown, referring to how her faith and fellow Christians sustained her through a hard time in her adult life.
And Gerhart said, "I don't wear it on my sleeve, but it's a part of me. My faith is a part of my make up."
All three also cited strong family support as the reason they have been able to give so much to their community.
"My husband helps me so much," Mrs. Karing said. "He retired in 1996 and helps me with so much of the running. He calls me the cheerleader of the valley."
As I reflect on the conversations I had with three people who still can't believe they were picked as Buhl Day honorees, I am truly humbled -- and honored to have been in the presence of such people.
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