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Remembering Bruce Cash

January 18, 2014

On Friday, January 17, friends and family gathered to celebrate the life of Bruce Cash. The funeral service was designed and carried out exactly the way Bruce wanted it to be. It was a meaningful experience for many of those who attended. Bruce was a kind and faithful man who touched many other lives through his life.

Bruce was my brother-in-law, married to my little sister, Kitty. She is the youngest of eight; I am the oldest. Kitty is fourteen younger than I am. When she was born, I was in junior high school. When I was a college student at Furman University, Kitty would call me with a request, “Kirk, will you come home and take me to the Beacon?”

Going to the Beacon with Kitty was special to both of us. She always, always, had Beacon chocolate milk and a grilled cheese sandwich. Having a little sister is a good thing for an older brother. I saw myself as a guardian of sorts, not as a parental surrogate, but as a designated protector. It was a role that was especially activated when she started dating. I thought my job was to keep the creepy guys away.

I have thanked the Lord for Bruce Cash many, many times. He was the perfect man for my little sister.

I could not have known then what I know now. Morningside Baptist Church had an outstanding youth program back in those days. Steve Suits, Terry Wilson, and Bruce Cash were all products of that youth group. All three of those fine men became my brothers-in-law. Steve married my sister Mamie; Terry married my sister Jeslyn; and Bruce married Kitty. I must also express gratitude to First Presbyterian Church for my brother-in-law Jule Hedden, married to my sister Beth.

At Bruce’s funeral service I thought about Mama and Dad and the many prayers they lifted to heaven for all of us. Their desire was that each of us would find the marriage partner of God’s choosing.

Bruce and Kitty first knew each other through Young Life. Kitty was a high school student. Bruce was a college student who served as the Young Life music leader. When Jeslyn and Terry got married May 24, 1975, Terry wanted his best friend, Bruce, to sing, and Jeslyn wanted her sister Kitty to sing. Ron Wells worked with Kitty and Bruce on a duet. From that time on my little sister knew she was going to marry Bruce. They were married Dec 17, 1977. I officiated at their wedding along with Dr. Alastair Walker and Rev. Joe Crook.

Kitty and Bruce sang together at many weddings. As we received friends before the funeral a number of people said to me, “Kitty and Bruce sang at our wedding.” Jeslyn and Terry’s wedding was the first. The wedding for Jeslyn and Terry’s daughter, Neely Louise Wilson to Josh Tarr’s on October 8, 2011, was the last.

Many remember Bruce best for his work as a pharmacist as the owner of Ford’s Drugs and Medical. Many others remember him best for his beautiful voice. From the songs of James Taylor to the hymns of faith, Bruce had a magnificent voice.

From the late 1980s through the early 1990s First Baptist Church secured The Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium for the presentation of the Passion of Christ. The musical drama was scheduled for Passion Week. Bruce played the part of Jesus. He was the right person to portray Christ. Not only did he have the voice, he also possessed a deep humility. The role fit him, and he fit the part.

To prepare for the Passion play, Bruce started letting his beard grow after Christmas so it would be a full beard before Easter. Customers in the drug store noticed the facial hair and anticipated the drama to come.

The drama took us from the birth of Jesus through the resurrection. To see Bruce quoting the teachings of Jesus, to see him kneeling in the garden, to hear him give that excruciating cry for the cross, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” was deeply moving.

I love Bruce dearly. I will continue to pray for his mother, Ruth, and for my little sister, Kitty. I suppose I can reactivate my guardian role but she has children and friends to help with that.

Permit me to share one last story about Bruce that is indelibly etched in my memory.

One morning after the presentation of the Passion of Christ the night before, I walked into Ford’s Drugs. An older gentleman who had seen the play for the first time the previous evening stopped to chat. We exchanged greetings and then he said, “I saw the Passion play last night. It was very well done. I had trouble going to sleep because I couldn’t get the story out of my mind. But I’ll tell you what, there’s nothing like walking in a drug store to pick up a prescription and having Jesus hand you the medicine.”

There is no better summary of the life of Bruce Cash than that.

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