“YOU can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy” is a phrase most of us are familiar with. If you have ever lived and worked in Kilgore the saying could easily be changed to “you can take the boy out of Kilgore, but not Kilgore out of the boy (or girl).” For years, the place and the people have made and continue to make quite an impression on the rest of the world.
“At the last Baptist General Convention they commemorated fifty years of the Rio Grande River Ministry,” said Charlie Whiteside. “John LaNoue of Kilgore was instrumental in providing the first medical transportation for the ministry and further remarks were made about it at the convention,” he said.
“John was the director of the Baptist Student Union at Kilgore College and worked and lived on Danville Drive,” continued Charlie. “It was somewhere around 1967 that John managed to acquire an old yellow school bus, took the school district sign off, added a dental chair on one end and a medical bed on the other end, an electric generator for the equipment on the bus to be used to get to families in need of medical attention up and down the Rio Grande. All the work on that bus was done in his back yard.
“John told me he needed to install a transmission and it was getting the best of him. He had never done anything like that before,” said Charlie. “But, he got on his knees in his backyard and started praying for help and instruction. It was just a matter of a few minutes after he got up from prayer students from Letourneau University came through the fence in to his yard. Three or four were mechanics and offered their help on the bus. That old bus was on the road before you knew it and John liked sharing how God was instrumental in keeping it going up and down the Rio Grande.”
“At the convention, I was told John ran that old bus until it literally fell in half,” he added. “Whether it did or not, I know he got years of use out of that thing and as far as I can remember it remained the old school yellow.”
“John became known as Mr. Disaster Relief of the Baptist General Convention and even went overseas several times to places like Korea and Iran to offer relief and carry donations.”
Kilgoreite Lanoue, along with two men from Athens, John Wren and Ed Nasko, was also instrumental in the organization of Omega International. The organization promotes peace in central Asian nations through education and economic development.
It was in the early ‘70s, the two Athens men drove an old International Army truck through Mexico on in to Belize carrying medical supplies. The truck belonged to Charlie Whiteside.
“With a lot of help from my friends, and I mean a lot of help, we converted that 6-by-6 to a medical truck in my back yard,” laughed Charlie. “We called it the Rio Studebaker hybrid truck and it made many fascinating trips.
“One time as we were halfway through Mexico when it broke down and we needed a master cylinder. But, we found a mechanic that could understand enough to get us the part. Another time the carburetor went out and I had never worked on one before, but, managed to get it put back together in working order,” said Charlie.
“I flew to Belize and taught chemical lab techs at the research farms and one time John Wren called me and told me to stay there. He was picking me up in the truck, heading to the far south end (of Belize) to a place called Punta Gorda. At one point a tree had fallen across the road and we had to use the old truck to chain the tree and drag it out of the way before going on with the medical supplies.
“I made three trips to Belize carrying a doctor and nurse, husband and wife team. They would stay for a week working and traveling through the country offering medical attention. We had a lot of donated medicine and no paper for them to write the instructions on for proper use of the meds. We found several copies of the Gospel of John and there was just enough room in the margins around the cover for them to write med information,” said Charlie.
Yes, you can take the boy out of Kilgore, but you can’t take Kilgore out of the boy. Charlie Whiteside continues with his missionary work in the best manner possible and whether or not it is oil and gas, Kilgore Rangerettes, disaster relief or people doing what they do best, Kilgore is remembered.
THIS group was found at Char-burger Stockade last week. They are a spin-off from the lunch bunch that met every Wednesday when the First Nazarene Church offered a lunch.
“We kept up the friendship and the fellowship after they stopped serving the meal,” said Cheryl Laird. “I send out reminder e-mails every Monday morning on where we will be eating and it is always at one of our local restaurants. On special occasions, we will plan a little differently, but for Valentine’s Day we will be at Val’s Italian Restaurant,” she said.
Currently, the group consists of 12-14 and includes all denominations.
“We create havoc everywhere we go,” said Cheryl. “Come join the fun.”
MAY HIS LOVE and laughter fill your hearts and your homes throughout the week. In the meantime, we may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 903-984-2593.