Life is a series of events, we all know that, but it’s the flow of events and their interconnectedness that is so interesting to look back on. I will tell of two incidents that involved myself and my high school principal, Garland Keithley.

I worked hard in high school and was most interested in science, chiefly chemistry and biology. The chemistry lab was open at all times and one could waltz in, place some iodine crystals in a funnel with filter paper in it, and then pour  some sulphuric acid through it followed by a portion of nitric acid, and the result was what we called “nitrogen triiodide”. Immediately you would hear little “pops” when you walked around the floor, from tiny particles of the compound that had landed on the floor. The preparation was stable when kept moist, but once it dried out, the touch of a feather would initiate a loud explosion with purple smoke. But I digress…

We had an assembly at graduation, and I was presented the Bell Telephone Science Award. It also happened that I was selected as a candidate to attend the West Virginia Centennial Science Camp. Two students from each state were to be selected as finalists, and Mr. Keithley personally drove me to Jefferson City to be interviewed by the Governor’s Selection Committee. I was interrogated by about a dozen men seated around a large oval table. I was picked as the first alternate delegate, that is, number three in Missouri. The first two selected did attend – I did not.

It so happened that my grandparents had moved to Siloam Springs, Arkansas where he could be close to bass fishing at Grand Lake. They attended First Baptist Church there, and it happened that so did Dr. Audrey Thomas, the Dean of Students at John Brown University,  JBU. My grandmother, ever proud of her two grandsons, pulled out an article about me from the Nevada Daily Mail and showed it to him.

Now, I had been planning to attend Southwest Missouri State (SMS) in Springfield and had been given a $200 scholarship (!) to go there. I was going to room with a friend in my uncle’s basement on Grand Street.  (the friend later flunked out)

On a Saturday morning I received a phone call from Dr. Thomas at JBU. He told me that I was “the kind of student they were looking for” and offered me a full ride scholarship right then and there, I think for $2,500 which was a considerable sum back in those days. I visited the university and decided to go to JBU, where I made “Who’s Who at JBU” and was elected  representative from the science department to the Student Senate. I kept the full ride all four years. Heads of the Chemistry and the Biology departments were supportive of my eventual decision to go to Medical School at Baylor in Houston, Texas. It was also at JBU that I met the love of my life, Valo, who had come up from Dallas.

Oh, yes, there was that other incident involving my NHS principal. I was eating lunch in the cafeteria at Nevada High School when Mr. Keithley came up and said, “Ronnie, there’s a man from the FBI here who wants to see you.” Well, that doesn’t happen every day! He led me to the foyer where I met a gentleman dressed in suit and tie who told me his name and showed his FBI credentials. I offered to shake hands – he declined. He said that he was sent by Mr. Hoover to ask me what I had heard about the communist activity at Cottey College! I related to him that a while back my brother Richard had a friend over by the name of Bob Bloom, and that I had overheard Bob mention that there was such activity at Cottey. And with my inquiring mind I had sent a letter to J. Edgar Hoover to find out more.

The FBI chief was kind enough to send me a personal reply, stating that the FBI files were confidential, and he recommended his latest book, “Masters of Deceit“. He also dispatched an agent to follow up. Said agent was not very happy with his assignment.

Well, things happen for a reason. Christians can find comfort in the fact that God’s love prompts Him to watch over us constantly; He opens and closes doors as He leads us. He knows all, we don’t. I have blown it many times as I chose to “wing it” on my own, but can look back and see how the Lord arranged for circumstances to occur and for people to be put in just the right places at just the right time for my benefit. I am the Lord’s favorite pediatrician. Goodness and mercy follow me everywhere, and I am surrounded by God’s favor at all time. I am healed by Jesus’ stripes (wounds). If you are a Christian, then you are God’s favorite ( name your term) and all of those blessings apply to you as well. It’s not because of anything good we have done. It’s all because of what Christ did at the cross, and “it is finished!”


Dr. J


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