Thursday, August 29, 2013

Some Time with Bill Humble

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to share lunch and to spend some time with Dr. Bill Humble, well-known among Churches of Christ as a historian, teacher, author, and international tour guide. For many years, he taught and served as an administrator at Abilene Christian University.

So what is he up to these days? At nearly 87 years old, he still walks about a mile and a half every morning, six days a week. When the weather is bad, he uses the treadmill.

He has given away almost all of his personal library. Only a few dozen volumes remain. He says that his days of deep study are over. He doesn't actively research anything anymore. That sort of thing "no longer holds the same attraction" for him. Of course, he reads a little, mostly in books or magazines that are available in large print. It helps that the head of the nearby branch of the public library just happens to be one of his former students. She is able to get him a large-print copy of most any book he wants to read.

He told me that he spends some time almost every day working on his memoirs. His daughter insisted that he write up at least some of his remarkable experiences. But he emphasized that these would be only for his immediate family. With that, he read to me a beautiful passage about how he, a first-year college student from the hills of Missouri, sat and listened as 70-year-old N. B. Hardeman spoke about his time in the Holy Land. That, said Bill, was the beginning of many trips that he would eventually make to Israel and to other parts of the world.

His wife, Geraldine "Jerry" Humble, died in March of this year. Their son, Eric, passed away about three years ago. It can't be easy for Bill anymore. Yet he remains cheerful and his mind is still sharp. I sat and talked with him, feeling lucky, thankful for the opportunity to be in the presence of this great man.