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September 10, 1999

A few months ago I devoted one of these columns to "what I know about Nevilyn Throckmorton." There was so much more to her than I knew then, probably more than I will know in this lifetime. If ever a mortal being was destined to be an angel here on earth, it was Nevilyn. I think she was the type of person all of us wish we were. The thing is, she achieved that level in a much too brief life span.

As a teacher in the Perry grade school, she was in her element. She worked with young minds, coaxing them to question everything and prove as much of it as possible. She had the whole community working on a project to collect one million pull tabs from soft drink cans just to show her youngsters "what a million of something looks like." She taught good citizenship and delved into the American economic system. At least one former student paid his way through college with the profits from an investment program outlined by Nevilyn. She challenged the young people in her classroom to dare to do things they might never have dreamed about, and she told them if they persevered they would prevail.

Her life was like that. When her cancer was diagnosed, Nevilyn smiled her sweet smile and announced that she could win that battle. She gave it a good shot, and with this whole community pulling for her, praying for her, hoping with her, it looked like she was going to win. When the grim prognosis was learned a few days ago, Nevilyn chose to maintain a normal life as much as possible after bidding farewell to the youngsters in her classroom at the middle school. She was in church last Sunday, though obviously in discomfort.

The church played a most significant part in her life. She was faithful in attendance, in expressing her spirituality, in creating and directing the curriculum for a vacation Bible school at her beloved Presbyterian church, and in serving as an excellent role model for adults as well as young people. She believed in physical fitness as well and worked out as long as her body allowed.

Many urgent and special prayers have been offered on her behalf, and for husband Craig and their two young sons, Solomon and Alonzo. Those who knew her, which is to say just about everyone in this close little community, are shedding tears this week as we grieve at her passing. It is hard to understand how this can be for the best, but it is not meant that we should understand at this point.

It is perhaps enough to remember that for Nevilyn, death meant an abrupt halt to pain and suffering, mental anguish and stress for her and for her family. She is a beautiful young lady we will remember for a very long time in this community. Her loss creates a void in so many ways, but her character and spirit will live on as a memorial to the life of this one whose time among us was dreadfully brief. Goodbye, Nevilyn.