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Final farewell to Billy Ed

Posted Friday, August 7, 2009, at 12:03 PM

Bill Ed Hostettler (Photo taken by Nick Schneider in Feb. 2003)
There are so many things that I'd like to say about my friend, the Rev. Billy Ed Hostettler, as my way of wishing him a final farewell.

He was a great person, a devout, steadfast Christian and a family man, who possessed an infectious sense of humor. His dry wit and familiar slow drawl will never be forgotten.

I and many other people in this county are much better people today because we knew him and called him our friend.

He was one of the first people I met when I came to Greene County more than 20 years ago.

The late William C. Miles, former owner/publisher at the Bloomfield Evening World had just hired me as a news reporter and treated me to a meal at the old Tootie's Restaurant in Scotland.

The little cafe was crowded, but Mr. Miles motioned for Billy Ed to come over to our table.

Billy Ed introduced himself to me that evening with a big smile, extended a warm handshake and our friendship was forged.

He would frequently stop in at the old office in Bloomfield just to chat.

At times, I had occasion to call Billy Ed for story ideas or to track down a name of someone. He had a wealth of information gleaned from his 40 years as a minister in the area and if I was stumped on something, he was the guy to give me the background I needed.

He was a frequent source for comment when someone died in our community because he simply knew something about everyone.

He sat with my family at the hospital on a very early morning in June 2003 when I had knee replacement surgery. He didn't do it because I asked him, he did it because he cared and wanted too.

I remember the day he came into my office in February 2003 and gave me a copy of his first book "From Then -- Till Now" -- his touching personal autobiography.

My then 76-year-old friend was proud of the 217-page book that took him more than five years to write.

Then two years ago, he again paid me a visit one afternoon here at our office in Linton and gave me a signed copy of his second book "Reflections From the Heart" .

After his tragic death from a heart attack prior to a traffic accident Wednesday, I got out my copy of his 81-page book and again looked at the words he wrote to me inside the front cover and it made tears flow down my face.

It says, "To my friend Nick. Keep on keeping on. Billy Ed"

That's good advice and I'll try to follow it.

His writing in the second book was certainly prophetic and inspiring.

Talking about seeing dilapidated old barns and houses as he drove through Greene County, Billy Ed wrote: "For like the big oak, they too have stories to tell. Stories of birth, death, joy, laughter, disappointments, defeats, loneliness, wars and depressions. So much history and knowledge is locked away within the walls of the structures. Oh, if only the could speak."

On growing older, he wrote: "Now as a man of 80 years I think back on my journey from Scotland to Doans. And in a very real sense there is a great similarity between those journeys and the journeys that we call the 'journey of life'. There are the valleys of defeats and despair, of dark and fearful times, but also valleys of peace and tranquility. There are the straight and smooth ways. There are the sweet aromas of life, the uphill struggles and the hilltops of joy and blessings of God that outnumber the stars."

On the journey of life, Billy Ed wrote, "Our journey of life has its twists and turns, joys and sorrows, victories and defeats, valleys and mountaintops. Sometimes in my journey, I feel the frustration that my father experienced the time he was hopelessly lost driving on the backroads of Kentucky. He spied a man sitting on his front porch. My father stopped the car and asked, 'Sir, can you tell me where I am, where am I going, and what time I'm going to get there?' "

He talked about earthy treasures and wrote, "My friend we cannot take our earthy treasures with us, but we can send our spiritual treasures for deposit in the Bank of Heaven. Some of the deposit slips for the bank in heaven are prayer, mercy, kindness, love, patience, forgiveness, just to mention a few."

On leaving something behind on this earth, he wrote: "So what is really important is what will we leave others to say about us after we are gone from this earth. If I have been somewhat of a scoundrel, then I could not blame the them for whispering uncomplimentary thoughts about me. But, if I leave a little happiness and contentment wherever I go, maybe, just maybe, they will say something good."

Friends and family will gather at the Bloomfield First Christian Church on Sunday and say a final goodbye to this special gentleman.

Be assured Billy Ed that what they will say about you will be good. You lived a good life here as you were passing through our community in your life's journey. You have left us all with countless memories and joys.

Now, you are home.

Nick is the assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487 or by e-mail at schneider.nick@gmail.com or nschneider@gcdailyworld.com. Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/wordmaster1953 .

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This touched my heart and brought back many of my own memories. Thanks Nick.

-- Posted by NaniR on Wed, Aug 12, 2009, at 2:53 AM

Very nice tribute.

-- Posted by GarthHudson on Mon, Aug 10, 2009, at 2:09 PM

Billy Ed visited my father when he was dying of cancer. At the time the minister in my father's own church didn't bother to visit, but Billy Ed took the time to come by many times. I will never forget Billy Ed's kindness and sense of humor and I know my father found him to be a wonderful, comforting friend at the end of his life.

-- Posted by Ellie on Fri, Aug 7, 2009, at 6:57 PM

Very touching Nick, I can feel the pain in your words of losing a dear friend. The short readings from his book is to say the least.. inspiring. Makes me wish I had sat on a creek bank with Billy Ed and caught some of that wonderful wisdom he had to share. I certainly look forward to reading his journey of life. Thank you.

-- Posted by shadows on Fri, Aug 7, 2009, at 5:07 PM

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