When you see someone, or are with someone, you never know that it might be the last time in this life experience that you will see that person. This happens to people quite often. Still, unless it happens directly to you, it is generally not given much thought.
There are many experiences in life and opportunities to be acquainted with many people. Each one of these relationships helps us in our personal development. Some of these relationships are deeper than some acquaintances. Many of us have experienced loved ones and friends passing on from this life experience. Many times, I have thought, "I wish that I could have visited with that person one more time."
It had been several months since I had seen Dr. Inez Byer, retired professor at Cottey College. A week ago Saturday I saw her at the Lions Club Pancake Day. As usual, she had her great smile and enthusiasm. We had only a brief conversation about how long it had been since we had seen each other and that we needed to visit again some time.
Little did I realize that was going to be the last time for me to see Inez. In reality, we were saying goodbye to each other, as she was soon to depart from this life experience. Perhaps it was divine intervention that gave us this brief opportunity to visit for the last time?
Tuesday morning I heard Russ Warren announce on the radio that Inez Byer had died. He also said that she was 81. I began to wonder if this was the person that I knew. Did I have her name right? Is there another person with that name? The woman I knew was not that old, I thought.
Women often do not like for others to know their age. Others also did not realize that she was that old as she was good at keeping her age to herself. Many of us that knew her were in shock when we heard the news -- you never know.
My first thought was that I need to devote a column to her memory. Then I decided that I would not, leaving it up to Chuck Nash to write a column as he knew her well and would write a good column about her. If he does not have a special column about her, I know that he will mention her in many future columns as he has in past columns.
Chuck had an impressive, well thought out eulogy during the memorial service which was a celebration of Inez's life. He shared his experiences of working with Inez at Cottey and the impression she had made on him.
As I gave more thought to it, I decided that I would write something about Inez, since she made a big impact on those she came in contact with. She has benefited Cottey College and this community in numerous ways. I will admit that I did not know her as well as those who worked with her at Cottey and those who were among her close friends in the community.
We came to this community in 1961, the same year that Inez started at Cottey College. I became acquainted with Inez when we were on the same committee or board several times. Perhaps the first time was when the first community day care center was organized. Over the years, I had opportunities to hear her give talks, to be in discussion groups with her and to have discussions with her about her thoughts and her faith.
She was a philosophy, ethics and religious professor at Cottey. She was well qualified and was an appropriate person to hold this position. Each student that attended her class had a rich experience that will benefit them in life. Anyone would have benefited from such an experience. She also provided a rich experience for the others on the college staff.
During the eulogy Dr. Helen Washburn, retired Cottey College president, paid tribute to Inez for her contributions to Cottey. Among her comments, she described Inez having stimulating conversations. She was a social activist, which included being chairman of the Nevada Housing Authority Board and the Moss House.
Dr. Michael Embry, associate professor of English at Cottey, also presented a eulogy. He spoke of the joy of knowing Inez; how she never met a stranger and made friends on the spot and of her inner and outer beauty. He said that Inez was a teacher to the last -- having been guest lecturer for a class at Cottey the previous Friday.
"One of the great minds of the planet," he said.
Inez was a deep thinker and she had a special concept of God. She understood others and their faith and did not find fault with others. Inez was a faithful and devoted member of the Christian Science Society in Nevada and often quoted the teachings of Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science.
Liza Steward was introduced to Christian Science by Inez. She said at the memorial service, "Here is Inez's and Mrs. Eddy's -- and Jesus' --presupposition. There is one God, one mind, one love. God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. Since God is all good, God can know nothing but good. That's the presupposition.
"We, you and I, are the compound idea (expression) of that one mind. We're made of the same stuff ultimately, as God, because God is all. And to the extent that we know only good, we correct what seems wrong in the very environment around us -- with our own direct consciousness."
My deepest sympathy is extended to Inez's family and her close friends.
Inez, thank you for your insights and all of the great things you did to make this world a better place. Good-bye until we meet again.
Seen one day, two days later departed from us -- you never know.