The last week has been a whirlwind. Wasn’t sure what day it was when I awoke this morning. My iPhone says it is Thursday. OK, good. I’ll work forward with that in mind.
It was down to Little Rock on UAMS, to see Bobby Ashcraft, my father-in-law pass away. Then, it was back Saturday to Fayetteville. My wife, Jean Ann, then left for DeWitt, where she’s been since Sunday. I drove to Tulsa on Monday night to speak to the Tulsa Razorback Club. Then, it was to Ft. Smith Razorback Club on Tuesday night. Sarah and I then left Ft. Smith about 8:15 and made the 4-hour drive to DeWitt.
We had most of Wednesday in DeWitt, where my father-in-law, Bobby Ashcraft, was buried. Coach Ashcraft was head coach at Eudora, Sheridan, Paragould and DeWitt. Then, he served 11 years as Arkansas County judge. He passed at 88 on Saturday.
It was a great service at First Baptist DeWitt. The ladies of the church prepared a full fried chicken dinner afterwards. I’m still full.
Handling the eulogy were Jean Ann (wonderful job) and Dr. Jimmie Fryer. Jimmie won the state decathlon for Eudora under Coach Ashcraft, then played for Frank Broyles at Arkansas.
Jimmie is President at Temple Baptist Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio. He returned to speak on the influence of coach Ashcraft as a Christian man during his time playing at Eudora.
The highlight moment came when Fryer spoke of going to sleep the night before he won the decathlon in a Cabot motel, awaking to see Coach Ashcraft kneeling in the corner with his Bible out, reading the scripture with a ray from a street lamp coming under the drawn curtains. Pretty cool. Earlier in his life, Fryer said Coach Ashcraft told him that Cliff Powell – Fryer’s hero – had called back from the UA to say he had been saved. That night in the Cabot motel, Coach Ashcraft told Fryer “you need what Cliff has.”
In more recent years, as head of the evangelist arm of Temple Baptist, Jimmie said he sent hundreds if not thousands of preachers to teach the Gospel in Ivory Coast in Africa. Those preachers have heard about the man who was influence in his life, Bobby Ashcraft. Jimmy said at the service, “So when my preachers go forth, they know that the root of the influence for them in knowing about Christ is Bobby Ashcraft. Because I’ve told that name is where I got Christ. They know he is the root in my tree.”
Last fall Jimmie said he drove to DeWitt, not knowing the Ashcraft address. He’d never been to DeWitt. He said he knew all he had to do is ask anyone he stopped in DeWitt to point Coach Ashcraft’s home and he’d find him quickly. The first person led him straight to the Ashcraft home.
“I knew with his influence in this town, I didn’t need an address to find Coach Ashcraft,” he said. “I didn’t.”
I will say that it was a pretty cool service. Jean Ann was awesome. Young John Mark Horton (Harold Horton’s great nephew) sang Amazing Grace, the Chains are Broken. He’s a junior at Arkansas State. He was once the world champ duck calling junior champ. He might be a great duck caller (as all Hortons are), but he’s pretty good as a tenor. Beautiful solo. He’d asked the sisters – Jean Ann, Bobby Jo and Nancy – if he could sing for Uncle Bobby. Man, did he sing.