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By Jeff Mayfield

[OCT. 18, 2004]  I commented to Greg Taylor a couple of weeks ago that our area really needs some good news to cheer about. When I said that to him, I really hoped some of that good news was right around the corner. It must have been a long corner.

After this weekend's debacle that saw football teams like Lincoln, ISU, Illinois and the Bears all go down in a heap; the Cardinals lose two in Houston; and now it's raining cats and dogs; good news would be a welcomed sight! With all the bad news, sometimes it's really hard to follow sports. And sometimes they take on much less significance than they ordinarily would.  

This week was a prime example. Our community took a much deeper loss with the departure from this life of Steve Barmes and Jim Newsome.

Many of you knew Jim Newsome as the balloon man or at least as the announcer who covered balloon launches over the last several years. Others knew him as a DJ and some through community theater. Many knew him as a man who could go toe-to-toe with anyone on any argument. I sometimes wished that professors could hear him defend the faith in the dorms; it would have made them proud. Those who knew him well were sure that he would give them the shirt off his own back if they needed it.  

Our paths crossed several times over the years. Since neither one of us is very conventional, we found ourselves either up late at night or stuck on campus on the weekends (most college students seem to take advantage of any excuse possible to go home on the weekends to get mom's cooking, to do their laundry or to see their girlfriend).

One such weekend was an Easter weekend sometime in the middle '70s. Jim was a die-hard Cubs fan and I was not. However, Ivan DeJesus and the Cubbies were hosting a rare Easter game, and since Ivan had Jesus in his name we thought that would be an appropriate place to be on that day (needless to say that we weren't as mature in our faith then as we later grew into). I don't even remember who won. I do remember that guys like Jim and me could make an insignificant game that early in the season a memory for a lifetime.  

On another occasion, just a few days before his death, I called Jim to enlist his help in some sound problems we were anticipating for Jack Shultz's presentation on Boomtown USA at the Maple Club. Of course, Jim knew exactly what to do and who we should call. I will miss him and so will our community.  

Steve and I also go back to the '70s. He said that he remembered me or a guy who looked a lot like me who had wild, funky hair and tried to play college basketball. He said that I was fun to watch. I say it was a freak show, but if the crowd was amused, so be it.  

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My strongest memories of Steve were when he and I were blazing the recruiting trails. He was the director of admissions for our graduate school, the seminary, while I was directing the admissions crew for our undergraduate school. Our styles and approaches were completely different, but I had a huge admiration and respect for him. I liked the way he got personal with the recruits and demonstrated his caring nature with both his presentation and his lifestyle. Since I was young and new to the recruiting wars, he had a powerful influence on me. In some ways some of the growth we experienced at LCCS over the years can be traced back to his work.

He adored his family, and that is a good example to everyone. He loved his faith, baseball, fishing, running and gardening -- not necessarily in that order. He transformed the campus on the east side of town from a mild disappointment into a garden oasis. To me, one of the best things about him was the way he reached out to people. He always wanted to know how you were doing and what he could do to help you out. His kind and gentle nature cannot easily be duplicated. I will miss Steve's encouragement and the way he always left things better than he found them.

I attended memorial services for both of these men this past weekend. A thought I had during the services is a thought that I have at virtually every funeral or memorial service I have ever attended. How do you whittle down someone's life and make it fit into an hour service? It just doesn't seem right to me. That cannot be done.

So, I made a little deal with myself way back in high school when one of my best friends ever, Roger Prewitt, died. I could not grieve the passing of my friend in so short an amount of time. My deal was this: Every time I see his favorite color or hear his favorite song(s) or see somebody do what he once did, I simply call out or speak his name. I fully realize that these family and friends who have preceded me are gone, but their memories stay as close to me as any others can, AND it won't be long before I see them all again.

Though I am forced to physically say goodbye to Jim and Steve, they will not be far from me. It is with great honor that I dedicate this space to my two friends.

[Jeff Mayfield]

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