Thursday, June 15, 2006
I didn’t know Pam’s Uncle Max well. After Monday, I regret it.
We attended the funeral of Robert “Max” Hefley Monday in Blytheville, Ark. The service was a wonderful tribute to a fine man. It was uplifting, yet it brought tears to my eyes.
Uncle Max, 83, died Thursday, June 8, in Huntsville, Ala. He was a retired manager of FBT Insurance at Farmers Bank in Blytheville. He was a member and former elder of the Northside Church of Christ in Blytheville and served his country in the U.S. Navy Air Corps in Korea. He was a patrol plane commander in the Navy and a member of the Blytheville Rose Society, the Orpheus Music Club, Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce. He was a former teacher and coach at Lepanto.
Max’s attributes, brought out by the minister and friends, are examples for us all.
Atop the list, Max was a dedicated, devoted Christian. He loved the Lord, and he lived his life based on the principles of the Bible.
The minister said many of the traits focused on in God’s word, like love, honesty and caring for others, just seemed to come naturally for Max. They were instilled, both in his mind and his heart.
His love was greatest for the Lord, but very close behind was his great love for his wife Edna, who preceded him in death. The minister talked about their special relationship, a great example for all married couples or those considering marriage. They were devoted to each other. They were best friends and partners.
The minister used the word dignity several times in eulogizing Max. Defined in Webster’s New World Dictionary, dignity is “honorable quality; worthiness; high repute or honor, or the degree of this; a high position, rank, or title; stately appearance or manner; self-respect.”
That definition fit Max perfectly, according to those who knew him best. He conducted himself, each day, with dignity. It was still on display the last few years when his health and memory deteriorated. He gained immediate respect because of the type person he was – not just occasionally but every day he lived.
Max loved his community. He was a community leader in Blytheville. He was a believer in his hometown, and he contributed greatly to its betterment.
Photographs on display brought back many fond memories for Pam and the rest of the family. He had a strong resemblance to his brother, Pam’s dad Phil, who preceded him in death.
The photos created much talk about the good times. They stirred memories, of Max and his roses. Pam said she used to play in those roses while visiting Max and Edna in Blytheville.
There was Max and his dog, another love of his life.
There was a young Max in the military, serving his country. He was called back, the minister said, and served twice. His love for his country was great, too.
The most memorable and most touching part of the service came at the conclusion. A black gentleman, who apparently entered the chapel after the service had begun, walked to the front and whispered for the minister. He talked to him and then moved over I guess to one of the funeral directors. Everyone was looking on, in wonder.
The gentleman then took the podium. He apologized, then said he had just learned of “Mr. Hefley’s passing,” ran home and changed clothes and rushed to the service.
He said he did not know the family, but he wanted them to know that “Mr. Hefley” changed his life. He said he met “Mr. Hefley” in the early ’90s, and “Mr. Hefley” steered him in the right direction, with a focus on God’s word.
He said he wanted the family to know of his great love for Max and Edna. He said they were like parents to him. Needless to say, tears were widespread.
It was a wonderful ending to a tremendous tribute Monday morning to Robert “Max” Hefley.
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