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A Good Name

April 5, 2011

“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1).

In his book I Almost Missed the Sunset, Bill Gaither writes:

Gloria and I had been married a couple of years. We were teaching school in Alexandria, Indiana, where I had grown up and we wanted a piece of land where we could build a house. I noticed the parcel south of town where cattle grazed, and I learned it belonged to a ninety-two-year-old retired banker named Mr. Yule. He owned a lot of land in the area, and he gave the same speech to everyone who inquired: “I promised the farmers they could use it for their cattle.”

Gloria and I visited him at the bank. Although he was retired, he spent a couple of hours each morning in his office. He looked at us over the top of his bifocals.

I introduced myself and told him we were interested in piece of his land. “Not selling,” he said pleasantly. “Promised it to a farmer for grazing.”

“I know, but we teach school here and thought maybe you’d be interested in selling it to someone planning to settle in the area.”

He pursed his lips and stared at me. “What’d you say your name was?”

“Gaither. Bill Gaither.”

“Hmmm. Any relation to Grover Gaither?”

“Yes, sir. He was my granddad.”

Mr. Yule put down his paper and removed his glasses. “Interesting. Grover Gaither was the best worker I ever had on my farm. Full day’s work for a day’s pay. So honest. What’d you say you wanted?”

I told him again.

“Let me do some thinking on it, then come back and see me.”

I came back within the week, and Mr. Yule told me he had had the property appraised. I held my breath. “How does $3,800 sound? Would that be okay?”

If that was per acre, I would have to come up with nearly $60,000! “$3,800?” I repeated.

“Yup. Fifteen acres for $3,800.”

I knew it had to be worth at least three times that. I readily accepted.

Nearly three decades later, my son and I strolled that beautiful, lush property that had once been pasture land. “Benjy,” I said, “you’ve had this wonderful place to grow up through nothing that you’ve done, but because of the good name of a great-granddad you never met.”

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