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A Happy Day

Melina said it correctly, “This is a bittersweet day.” Indeed it was, for its curious boundaries metered funeral flowers, eulogies, and graveside committal words. Flowing tears and grievous expression held hands with mirth and laughing aloud.

Two of our sons, their wives, and one grandson, along with Jerry and me, had attended the funeral of our dear friend, Rev. Paul Walker. It was a beautiful service, where loving honor was paid to this great man of God. Jerry was honored by being asked to speak during the graveside service.

Jerry’s birthday had been the day before. He had already celebrated with birthday dinners and breakfasts, a myriad of phone calls from family and friends, and by opening packages received in person, and in the mail. These particular youngsters, though, had not seen him on his special day, although they had communicated by mail and by telephone calls.

“Dad,” said Andrew at the conclusion of the services. “Let’s go eat somewhere. Celebrate your birthday a bit more.”

No one knew a close-by place to eat, so Andrew and Shauna consulted maps and recommendations on their phone, and we all pulled up in front of Billy Qs in Palm Desert. It was a tiny pizza place, with not a table to seat us all, except for one with high stools, so we scurried around, and helped Jerry get seated up there. After we had received the drinks we had ordered, Andrew leaned in, and said, “There’s a really nice place next door. Want to pay for our drinks and go there?”

“No.” I said, “Let’s don’t do that.”

All agreed, and what a dynamite decision we made. The food is outstanding, and the people are fantastic. The female partner of the man/wife owners of the little place was our waitress . . .and she is a hoot.

My husband has a line he loves to use in restaurants–one which causes the rest of us to smile wanly, and take on an apologetic look. Sometimes we tuck our heads. “Do you take food stamps?” he asked Darnelle.

She missed not a beat. “Yes we do. However, you need to provide three forms of ID.” Wide-eyed, Jerry was speechless. The rest of us were howling.

The upward momentum never faltered during that fine hour. When Darnelle learned this was a birthday celebration of sorts, she went next door to Cold Stone, bought an ice cream cake, and set it at the end of our table. She scurried up a make-shift candle, and we sang. Before we left this charming place, Darnelle was in the middle of all of us, and we were hugging and promising to see each other again.

For part of the summer, she and her husband take an RV to Big Bear Lake, which is about 20 miles from where Jerry and I live. “We take a portable pizza oven there, and cook up pizzas for everyone in the RV park.” She wrote her phone number on the back of a card. “Call me. We also take a boat there. Love to take you out on it.”

I love living.

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The Gathering of Rev. Donald Ikerd

Family and friends of Rev. Don Ikerd
The night was cold. Rain pelted the windshield, and in the few minutes before we arrived at our Prescott, Az. destination, snow flurries blew across the glass. Many people had preceded us, so that at the entrance to the mortuary we must wait in line to sign the guest book.

On Monday morning around 10:00, Jerry and I had gone from Lake Havasu and traveled the couple hundred miles to the Phoenix home of our friends, Gary and Elaine Hogan. We visited awhile, had lunch at the nearby Elephant Bar and rather soon it was time for the 100 miles trip to Prescott, where we would gather to view the body of Rev. Donald Ikerd, who a few days before had gone home to meet his Lord.

The Wakelin Mortuary appeared to be a converted colonial style home, complete with working fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. Stacks of firewood lay about, and near the center of the first room was a table laid with cookies, pitchers of ice water, and flagons of hot cider. The facility was packed with friends, colleagues and relatives of Rev. Ikerd, and the atmosphere, though woven through with sadness at the death of such a man, was one of love and supreme honor.

Judge for yourself. On a stormy night in January, into the mountains of Prescott had come scores of people–from every corner of Arizona, from many states, from other countries, and from the headquarters of the United Pentecostal Church–came those who respected and loved this great man. That gathering on Monday evening was the most beautiful of its type I have ever attended…

but I felt cheated…

Why? Because I hardly knew Rev. Ikerd, and that night, and the next day at his funeral in Phoenix, the accolades spoken, the tributes paid, the stories told, the letters read, the descriptions noted, the wisdom lauded…all those, unmistakably told of a most magnificent man of God. I felt cheated as I heard anecdotes from the pulpit and listened to private conversations of those who knew him well, and because of the silent messages transmitted by impressive men who flew thousands of miles–not to speak–merely to stand in honor of their fallen friend. His history conveyed impeccable character, highest integrity and sheer grit.
Sharon Ikerd and ministerial family from Africa

President UPCI South Africa

For 28 years, Rev. Donald Ikerd and his wife, Sharon, were missionaries to the continent of Africa, serving in the countries of Kenya, Zambia and South Africa. A tall elegant man with a clipped British accent strode to the pulpit. President of the United Pentecostal Church of South Africa, he told of the incredible atmosphere of animosity into which Rev. Ikerd entered that field. Great turmoil and prejudice existed between the negroes, the blacks, the Indians and the Europeans of South Africa who, both in and out of “the church,” struggled for position and power. Rev. Ikerd with a pervading aura of peace, in a meek and humble way, brought these factions together, and although there still remain struggles, the “work” in South Africa was tremendously strengthened and elevated by Rev. Ikerd.
In his waning years, after he must leave Africa because of declining health, he moved to Prescott and there built a church. At the time of his death, he served as presbyter for section 4 of the Arizona district.
…he is gone. Rev. Donald Ikerd has been gathered home.