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Happy Birthday to an American Hero: Eugene Brannum!

Reprinted from ReadyAimLife

by The Howitzer

Whatever happened to Randolph Scott ridin’ the trail alone?  Whatever happened to Gene and Tex, and Roy, and Rex, the Durango Kid?  Oh, whatever happened to Randolph Scott, his horse plain as could be?  Whatever happened to Randolph Scott has happened to the best of me. – The Statler Brothers

Such are the musings of the Statler Brothers as they pondered the demise of their heroes in the movies.  They longed for a greater day where we were inspired by our American idols rather than voted on who sings the best.  In short where have our heroes gone?

Today is the 50th birthday of one of my heroes.  His name is Eugene Brannum.  These days he goes by Rory but he will always be Eugene to me.  I met him as a brand new believer as he recently had relocated from Dallas to NW Arkansas to assist in a college ministry that I was just getting involved with in the early 80s.  Over those early formative years of my Christian life, Eugene seemed to cross my path a lot.  He was my first discipleship group leader in my first summer training project.  Shortly, thereafter we would be roommates in an outreach to international students at the University of Arkansas.  My first mission exposure overseas would come at his tutelage and when I got married he was one of the guys who stood up for me.  I can still remember the poem he wrote for my rehearsal dinner.

Roses are red, violets are blue.  Tim’s getting married, Terri is too!

That captures Eugene in my mind: involved, funny, leading the way, providing opportunities for others, caring for people and concerned.  My wife still tells a story of how she learned to listen from him.  It seems there were at a party where there were a lot of people milling around. They were in a conversation about something and people kept coming by and speaking to him.  But, with laser beam focus he continued to listen to what she had to say.  To Eugene if you were saying something to him that was the most important thing going on.

The thing that I appreciate the most about Eugene is that he is one of the first guys who rolled up his sleeves and attempted to disciple me (which by the way is no picnic).  I can still vividly remember being pulled aside (on numerous occasions) and being treated to one of his famous “Rebuke Sandwiches”.  A rebuke sandwiched between two positives.  These were on the menu if you were in need of instruction. They might go like this:

Tim, I want you to know how impressed I am with all your contributions that you are making around the house and your attention to detail. You are definitely one of the key guys and we would not be as efficient as we are without your leadership.  HOWEVER, YOU ARE DRIVING EVERYBODY CRAZY WITH YOUR LEGALISTIC ATTITUDE TOWARD THE HOUSE DUTIES.  But again, I think that just goes to show how involved and concerned you are about things going right around here.  Thanks for the concern, but you MIGHT WANT TO LIGHTEN UP A BIT.

How can you be offended by that?  In fact, I still remember how after I figured out what he was doing enjoying a good “Rebuke Sandwich” every now and then (and I am not one to be interested in having my flaws pointed out).  But, I appreciate someone who is willing to risk the relationship to give input in a positive reinforcing way that invites me to change and reach my potential.  In fact, Eugene was one of the first guys who pointed out to me that I had potential in my Christian life by spending time trying to groom me.  Thanks!

There are hundreds of stories that I could tell but I will share some of those for later.  For now I wanted to honor one of my heroes on his birthday.  HIS 50TH BIRTHDAY.  Let me share a birthday poem I have written for the occasion.

Roses are red, violets are blue.  I’m getting old, Rory is too.

Happy Birthday Eugene!  May the Lord bless you and keep you and cause His face to shine upon you.

The Statler Brothers wondered where all the heroes have gone.  One of them just moved back to Dallas: RORY EUGENE BRANNUM.

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