Tribute to a Dear Friend

(These reflections were adapted from what was read at a recent celebration of life service for one of my cherished Texas friends. Regrettably, I was unable to participate in the service due to cautions surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic.) 

Monique and I along with our 13-month old son, Matthew, moved to Granbury, Texas in September of 1977. I had already been attending seminary classes in Fort Worth for a month when the opportunity came to serve the First Baptist Church, Granbury as an Associate Pastor of Education/ Outreach. As it would turn out, my office would be adjacent to the work space of the church's secretary, Kitty Best. Our work-day lives would be inextricably connected for the next seven and a half years.
Kitty Best
June 8, 1929 - May 12, 2020

Although Kitty was the church's only secretary, she was so much more! Today, she would have the title Administrative Assistant. She managed our office and did so without computers, WiFi/ Internet service, or any of the other digital amenities we take for granted today. She did not have a Smart Phone with a ready contact list of all staff and member numbers. She answered the phone on a rotary/ push button device and utilized her memory, a rolodex file and a printed church directory. She did her word processing and prepared publications the old-fashioned way with an electric Smith-Corona typewriter, a terribly messy mimeograph machine and an ever unfaithful folding machine. There were no search engines or spell-check programs at her disposal. The quintessential Webster’s Dictionary was all she needed! (Some of you younger folks will need to Google these terms to understand what office tools were used in the last century!) 😉 

Kitty was an intelligent woman with an impressive pedigree as a Baylor University graduate! She was also savvy about personal relationships and not easily bamboozled by young male seminarians named Mike Keppler, Tommy Hopper, or Mike Roberts. She was the only one other than Margaret, his wife, who could manage Bro. Gene Hadley, our esteemed pastor! Kitty was at mission control for our church. She was in her place each day, all day, and could be counted on when some of the others of us were AWOL at times. If we didn’t keep up with her, she didn’t make up things! On numerous occasions I heard her blurt out with honesty, “I have NO IDEA where he is!” And we all knew who she was referring to!

What will I remember about this good woman? Too many things for the space allowed! Kitty was strong, fearless and loyal. She was in the office that day when we were confronted by an upset racoon mother with little baby racoons. These critters had taken up residence in the attic above our offices and were obviously not too happy about our relocation efforts. But, I will also remember Kitty’s love for the Lord, her devotion to her family and her commitment to our church. She loved telling me stories that helped connect me with people. Her tutelage was invaluable to an "Illinois Boy" that had been called to minister to God’s people in a beautiful, historic and growing Texas county seat setting.

Granbury First has lost a stalwart member, and I too, have lost a true friend who patiently accepted my “Yankee-ness” while shaping me into a “Naturalized Texan!” Kitty taught me how to pronounce the town of Mexia, (muh-Hay-uh) where she went to high school, how to exclaim, “I Swan!” when sighing, and how to address others with politeness by saying, “Ma’am,” and “Sir!” She gave me my first large, hard-backed dictionary for reference and told me to use it regularly! She protected me, mentored me, encouraged me and believed in me. I couldn’t have become what I am today without her shaping influence during some of my most formative years.

Every one of us is the sum of all of those who have helped to make us what we are today. The Apostle Paul mentored Timothy and advised him, "You have heard me teach things... Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others" (2 Timothy 2:2 NLT). I will certainly never forget what Kitty did to contribute to Mike Keppler, retired Texas and Illinois pastor, blog writer and mentoring leader today! Heaven is rejoicing in her homecoming!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.


  1. You were so blessed to have someone like her to help guide you through your first ministry. Blessed is she and blessed are you my dear nephew. Love you.


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