By Dr. Don Person
In 2009, shortly after joining Abiding Presence, Biz and I searched for a volunteer activity in which we both might participate. Fellowship Folders seemed like a simple, recurring, needed activity, which would allow us to provide a service, socialize, meet other church members, and learn more about APLC and its history. When it all began for us, we met in the nursery at 1:00 on Friday afternoons. Sue and Gaye had huge piles of uncollated bulletin sheets on those tiny tables. Each of us would take a handful of sheets from each pile, find a tiny seat, and proceed to collate, and then fold each one. I will never forget the time I proudly finished a big pile before anyone else only to discover I had totally messed up the pagination! Then with everyone watching, I had to re-fold dozens of bulletins! Other folders that I remember from those days included Russ Dooly, Elise Fuller, Faye Minnis, Herman Mansur, Jimmy Muir, Jerry and CeCe Bergdale, and Ruth Lucke.
Russ always brought some newspaper clippings with quips, cartoons, stories that he would dutifully pass around as we folded. Russ was the first to leave us and we miss him still.
Pastor Herman (Tex) Mansur was normally quiet and understated, but when wound up, he would regale us with stories from his family’s 20 years in the mission field in Papua New Guinea (1947-1968)! He and his new wife Dorothy established the Banz mission station in the Western Highlands. They raised seven children there. Out of necessity, he became a carpenter and builder who single handedly built many of the buildings at the mission himself. Pastor Peter Manfred shared with us the story that Herman always signed his letters Pr Herman Mansur, O.C. When asked what O.C. meant Herman replied “Overseas Carpenter”! It was at Pastor Mansur’s funeral that I first heard/ sang John Ylvisaker’s “I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry.” Just thinking about the words and music brings tears to my eyes.
Our ranks thinned a bit in time and the Fellowship Folders moved to the conference room behind Sue’s office. Taller chairs and a new copy machine that collated the pages made the work easier for our smaller group. Other folks would occasionally stop by, but most weeks it was Jimmy Muir, Ruth, Jerry, CeCe, Biz and me.
Jimmy had stories that had stories! He remembered facts, figures, names, places, anecdotes that he would share with little provocation. Jimmy, the Bergdales, Biz and I would meet for breakfast at Bill Millers before folding. Every Friday morning Jimmy ordered coffee, two pancakes, jelly and syrup. He poured any leftover syrup into his coffee or drank it down straight! Jimmy often told us about early San Antonio and his old neighborhood. Jimmy graduated from Jefferson HS in 1936 and earned his BBA and MA from St. Mary’s University. Jimmy enlisted in the US Army in 1940. As a finance expert, CWO (Chief
Warrant Officer), later First Lieutenant Muir, participated in seven major campaigns! He recounted the story of BG Teddy Roosevelt, Jr with his walking cane in hand leading the first wave of troops onto Utah Beach during the Normandy landings in 1944. After returning to CONUS, he met an Army nurse, Lt Marie Elvert. They married and moved to San Antonio to raise their family. Jimmy taught at Madison Elementary School for 37 years and served as a director of San Antonio Teachers Credit Union/Firstmark for nearly 60 years. We joined Jimmy, his family and friends along with a number of WW II veterans at Fort Sam Houston on Veterans Day in 2014. The French Council General awarded Jimmy and other veterans who had participated in the Liberation of France the French Legion of Honor. Jimmy faithfully and indefatigably volunteered at APLC for years and his death has left a void in all of us, but we are so grateful to have known him and loved him.
Now Biz and I skip Bill Millers and join the Bergdales at church at 10:00 in the morning. Usually Ruth Lucke is already there at the table folding the inserts. She insists on getting Biz and me a cup of coffee shortly after we arrive and relishes in passing around chocolates. Our conversations cover a multitude of topics and we often solve the problems of the world! Ruth loves to talk about holidays and birthdays, especially birthdays. Jerry and Don try to keep things serious, but Biz and CeCe are such cut ups our sessions often deteriorate! We laugh too much: have too much fun. Sue occasionally has to shush us to handle a phone call. It’s at those times I like to refer to us as the ‘Holy Folders’! Who would have ever thought folding bulletins could be so much fun?