Summary: This is eulogy for an 89 year old Christian man who served as an excellent greeter and usher for many years in the church. He lived the life God called him to live with great humility and concern for others.
Ralph Deadwyler August 8 2018
The year was 1927 and the month was March. Calvin Coolidge was president of the United States. Adolf Hitler was giving his first public speech. Babe Ruth was signing the biggest contract in sports to the tune of $70,000 a year with the New York Yankees and the next highest player on the team was paid $17,500. On the other side of the globe, Chiang Kai Shek captured the city of Shanghai without firing a shot.
That might have been important then, but for us, the most meaningful thing that happened in March of 1927, happened in the red hills of Ga in a small town called Lithonia not that far from Atlanta. It happened when Jim and Verdia brought forth a son by the name of Ralph Deadwyler. Together with his brother James Thomas and his sister Inez, Ralph grew up in the heart of the confederacy with all the racism and Jim Crow Laws around him. Lithonia is just a few miles away from Stone Mountain, Ga where the KKK had undergone a rebirth Just 12 years before Ralph was born.
I tell you this because I want you to know, when God’s hand and favor is upon your life, it does not matter what the circumstances are where you begin your life. God is able to take to you to heights that you could not have imagined. Ralph was not just another poor little black boy born into a small southern town. Ralph started out the same way we all start out, and that is with the hand of God being involved in our lives.
For The Scriptures tell us in Psalm 139 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
In other words, God wants you to know that you are not here by accident. You are not the result of chance molecules coming together. You were thought about in the mind of God long before you arrived in your mother’s womb. God had a plan and a purpose for your life. The question is, have you connected with the plan that God has for your life? We are celebrating tonight because Ralph intersected and connected with the plan that God had for his life.
God put a big heart in Ralph that was full of compassion for people. If you lived on East 92nd street, what could have been a short walk to St. Clair, became a marathon walk in the neighborhood. If you were outside on the porch, or in the yard, you were going to get a neighborhood chat from Ralph. He wanted to know how you were doing, how’s the kids, and if the dog and cat were allright. He actually listened to what your response was.
He was a comedian. Ralph took great pride in smiling but even more pride in getting you to smile and laugh as well. He got joy out of the happiness of others. He was caring. He was a listener. He was easy going. He looked for the good in others. His son Ralph said, “you know, I never heard my father bad mouth anyone.” Ralph was the kind of friend everybody wanted. He was helpful in whatever way he could assist you and he did it with a positive spirit, not expecting anything in return.
Ralph didn’t allow the difficult times he faced in life to make him bitter, envious or jealous. He chose instead to become a proud Black Man, loving his family and serving his God. On January 26, 1951, Ralph married the beautiful young woman who had captured his heart and that was none other than Juliette Fairley from Camden Alabama.
They built a home and family together of which they were both very proud. I asked Juliette what was the trait she was attracted to by Ralph, she said he was a hard worker. By some of those pictures I’ve seen, he was a good looking hard worker who knew how to dress.
They were both as proud of their three children as they could be. Ralph and Juliette knew how to keep love alive in their relationship. In Men Who Excel meetings, Ralph would often say that Juliette was a good woman.
In the obituary it mentioned that Ralph would be in his own zone when he would be back in the kitchen cooking a meal for himself and others singing hymns in the process. I asked Juliette if she was a good cook, and she said she was kind of so so. So I guess Ralph was happy cooking because the meal was going to taste more than so, so.