About once a month I run across a person who radiates an inner light. These people can be in any walk of life. They seem deeply good. They listen well. They make you feel funny and valued. You often catch them looking after other people and as they do so their laugh is musical and their manner is infused with gratitude. They are not thinking about what wonderful work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all.
When I meet such a person it brightens my whole day.
When Gene Fischer, the Chairman of the Fairmont Village Board, died on October 18, 2016, I read the column by David Brooks again and reflected on Gene’s life. Gene taught special needs students in the York Public Schools for 35 years prior to his retirement. Additionally, Gene announced numerous athletic events, played Santa, wrote a column for the York News-Times and served on the Fairmont Village Board. Gene read voraciously, was fascinated by architectural history, was intellectually curious and loved learning about all the people he met along the way.
Gene was raised in Dike, Iowa, which had a population of about 800 people and his family attended the local United Methodist Church – the only church in town. If Gene spent much time with organized religion as an adult, I am simply not aware of it. However, Gene must have learned and retained something from the religious education received as a youth.
As I reflected on Gene’s life, three short but important scriptures came to mind: (1) In Matthew 25:40 Jesus said “. . . just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me”; (2) In the Micah 6:8, an Old Testament book of a minor prophet, it says “. . . what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk” humbly with your God?; and (3) In Galatians 5:22-23, the Fruits of the Spirit or attributes of a Christian are listed - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Gene cared for the “least of these” while working as a special education teacher and saw goodness in all people. Gene provided kindness and sought justice. Gene demonstrated humility. Gene showed the Fruits of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Gene lived, laughed, spread joy and loved his spouse, Kathy, and family. Gene brightened the days of those he came into along the way. Hopefully all of us benefit from Gene’s example. Well lived, Gene.
Pastor Brad, Fairmont Community Church