Tony Fears is a great guy and a member of our church. His dad, S. W. Fears, died last year. I attended the funeral.
Tony spoke at his dad’s funeral and told a story that made an impression on me. He gave me permission to use it, and here is the story.
Back in the 1930s, S. W. Fears and his family lived in a boarding house, near downtown Tyler. During this period, when S. W. was around five or six years old, he would enjoy dangling his legs off the front porch of the boarding house and watching the trains go by on the railroad tracks—tracks, which were literally just a few feet away.
One day, S. W. saw a train approaching that was headed out of Tyler. As the train passed, he saw a man inside a boxcar waving at him. He excitedly waved back. It was not until the boxcar had passed that he realized the man who had waived at him, was his father.
Unknown to him at the time, his father was leaving. Leaving for good. S. W.’s father was abandoning him and his mom. His life was going to change forever. He would now be raised by his mother and his beloved aunt.
As you might imagine, this event would affect S. W. for the rest of his life. Ultimately, he chose for it to impact him in a positive way.
When S. W. was a young man, he came to realize that if he was to live a productive life, he had to get rid of the hate and anger that his father’s abandonment had created within him. And so, S. W. made a conscious decision—if he ever had children, he would be the best father that any child could possibly have.
S. W. was determined to be nothing like his dad. He would be a loyal and devoted companion to his wife. He would take the sorry last name, his father had given him, and he would do everything in his power to change it. He would attempt to live his life in such a way, he could bestow upon his children and his grandchildren a name they would be proud to receive. It would be a name deserving respect.
I can tell you, as the preacher to the children and grandchildren, S. W. succeeded. “Fear” is a word that normally does not have a positive connotation. In Tyler, the name “Fears” is a word of honor.