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RIP Virgil Starks

I got word yesterday evening that an old high school buddy had died unexpectdly. Virgil Starks had suffered cardiac arrest while driving home after the Auburn-UT Martin game.  He was 46.

Here’s a link to the  story in the Opelika-Auburn News.

Virgil was a year behind me, but we played football together and ran around with the same group of friends.  We ate at each other’s houses – his mom and mine, two of the best southern cooks who ever drew breath – camped out in the woods by Cooper Lane, went to Alabama games together, and had a lot of, um, other interesting adventures.  High school kids, guys especially, don’t think in these terms, but looking back I realize that Virgil was a generous, caring friend.

After graduation and me moving away to Atlanta to go to college, we drifted apart and lost contact.  Then, right before Christmas last year, I saw his name, his job, and where he worked in an article I was reading!  I couldn’t believe it!  It took about 10 minutes to get his work number, and about 3 days to get him on the phone, but we had an awesome reunion.  We spent about an hour just catching up on each other’s lives and the lives of other old friends. Virgil kept saying, “Gumby [yeah, it was my high school nickname…], man, I CAN’T BELIEVE you’re a pastor!” I kept saying I could barely believe it myself… We hung up with promises to stay in touch. Well meant, well intentioned promises, I’m sure, but ones – to my shame and regret- we did not keep.

I cannot be at Virgil’s visitation or funeral, so here I pay my respects to the memory of a dear friend, a fine man with a mile-wide smile who found his success in helping others be successful.  My prayers and sympathy are with Donna and the girls.

Rest in peace, my brother.

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