Ginnie’s father, the Rev Paul Harvey, just turned 90. Yes, he likes to joke about his name and says things like, “Now, for the rest of the story.” But, boy, does he have a “rest of the story.” Not only did he reach the ripe old age of 90 with full mental capacities (and then some), but he is also diabetic, has congestive heart failure (CHF), has had heart bypass surgery, and has had, and fully recovered from, cancer, twice—bone cancer where he had six inches of bone removed from his arm, and prostate cancer. Any one of these conditions would probably do me in. But not the Rev Paul Harvey. His present good health and outstanding mental faculties are a testament to excellent health care, the love of his wife, Ruth, friends, congregation and family, and his faith and trust in God.
Is he a walking miracle? Well, maybe. He doesn’t believe the successful removal of cancerous bone from his arm and the bypass surgery were solely the result of human skill. He believes the Lord had something to do with it, that there was still work for him to do.
He and his wife of 67 years, Ruth, had seven children. One child passed away from an enlarged heart, leaving six. Incredibly, all six children have a college education (on a pastor’s salary) and all six children and most of their families made it to the 90th birthday reception for Paul and Ruth, who will also be 90 in November. The birthday celebration was held in Ozark, Missouri.
With all the family together, it was time, of course, for a family meeting afterward. Just as in days of old, Paul held court. What were the plans for Ruth and himself? Ruth is in an assisted living facility, and Paul is still maintaining an independent apartment. He wants to be with his wife, naturally. He will wait until a “couples apartment” becomes available and then move in with Ruth. The kids will need to come together to help sort through a lifetime of accumulations. They all nod their heads in agreement.
And there are tons of stuff to go through. Their pastor father was also an accomplished photographer, model railroader, and musician, playing the mountain dulcimer. About the time he had to have the bone removed from his arm, he was just learning to play the dulcimer. After the surgery and replacement of bone by a steel rod, Paul could no longer hold the dulcimer in the manner to which he was accustomed. He made the adjustment, continued to practice, and now gives performances statewide.
Ordained at 18, Paul was a Baptist minister for 21 years and then was State Director of the Baptist Brotherhood Department for 17 years. Part of the Brotherhood Department included the Royal Ambassadors, which is a Baptist organization for boys similar to the Boy Scouts. Both as a pastor and with the Brotherhood, a camera was always in Paul’s hands, and a darkroom in the family’s basement. He was responsible for many of the photographs that went into “The Word and Way,” a state Baptist newsletter. In fact, Paul was known to convert a motel bathroom into a darkroom when necessary to meet a photography deadline.
Paul’s father was a carpenter and builder. So, using tools and building things with his hands came naturally to Paul. Early in their marriage, like a man with a plan, Paul built a two-wheeled camper trailer utilizing the front axle of a ’32 Chevy. Using steel from a set of steel wheels, he formed hoops over the trailer much like a covered wagon. The family slept in the trailer while on vacations.
He fell in love with model railroading, building HO-sized houses, barns, windmills and landscapes. In the assisted living facility where his wife Ruth stays, is a display case containing one of Paul’s magnificent model railroads. Many of the pieces have won first place at model railroad conventions.
Going for 100 and still preaching occasionally, the focus of the Rev Paul Harvey’s life has always been the ministry. A little drive in the country with his wife, Ruth, followed by an ice-cream stop, might be in order to top off an extraordinary birthday weekend.
Have a good story? Call of text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Facebook. Curt’s stories are also read at 107.3 FM in Farmington.