One Last Battle

Fred was an old man with a rubber face. He had been a circus clown. He was poor, a volunteer at the St. Paul mission where Elsie and I worked during school years. Fred loved to sing. He was loud and close to pitch. We came to love Fred and his gentle wife Annie, a Mission chamber maid.

We finished seminary in 1947 and moved to North Central Wisconsin to serve two small rural churches. The following spring, we visited St. Paul and stopped by Mission, encountering Fred and Annie. On an impulse, I invited them to visit us some weekend. Fred would sing and tell his story. They rarely got out of town. We set a date.

Shortly after, word came that a debilitating illness had struck Fred, bringing intense pain. I phoned to relieve them of their commitment, Fred was disappointed. He said he would like to try. On the appointed weekend I picked them up in my ’28 Chevy. I could tell Fred was hurting. They spent Saturday night with us.

I was anxious for Fred Sunday morning as we walked to church. But as we walked, the old gospel warhorse experienced a miracle of God’s Grace. Pumped up by one last battle to fight with the Devil, Fred belted out old gospel songs and mesmerized the congregation with his story. There was no need for a sermon.

I drove them to St. Paul Sunday afternoon.Fred’s pain returned. Annie helped him up worn, dusty stairs to their small apartment.  Fred died not long after.


Old Grandpa Lloyd