Joseph Guilbeau passed away on Tuesday at the age of 85.
I’ve only known Joseph, “Joe”, for about two and a half years. He was a member of both my church and the Sunday school class of senior adults that I started teaching last fall. He was most definitely a very unique character. You only had to know him for a few brief moments before you became his friend. And it wouldn’t take very long to figure out that he loved the Lord, and had a real passion for sharing the gospel.
Even at 85 years of age, his mind was sharp. He had memorized whole chapters of scripture and could quote verse after verse without missing a word. He had a prepared presentation of the gospel, which he would share with anyone who would listen. When we had an emphasis in our church about getting to know your neighbor in order to be able to share your faith, Joseph faithfully reported his efforts to share the gospel with his neighbors. He wouldn’t let them get away without at least agreeing to let him pray for them. And I have to think that God has blessed those efforts, and used them to plant a seed.
If Joseph engaged you in a conversation, especially about faith, you had to be prepared to spend a lot of time with him. That’s mostly what he wanted to talk about, and he could talk about it for quite a while. He spoke fast, with a heavy Cajun accent, so you had to listen closely, but he never got tired of talking about his walk with the Lord.
His most prized possession, next to the Stetson hat that was always on his head except when he was inside, was his guitar, which had been a gift from his father. He was really pretty good, considering his age, a regular at our quarterly “Fifth Sunday Singing,” and the Kroger store seemed to be one of his favorite gigs. He sang and played from memory, even though his hands would grow tired and his fingers were stiff.
This past Sunday, as on most Sunday mornings, I first saw him in the office hallway, outside the coffee room, waiting to get a cup of coffee and head for his Sunday school class. He was there every week, and instead of coming to the 8:30 traditional worship service, where most of his fellow senior adults worshipped, he would stay for the 11:00 contemporary service.
He seemed to be in relatively good health, though in the past year, his memory was showing signs of slipping, and he would sometimes struggle for words, or pause to think for a moment about what you might have said to him. But during Sunday school, he was always attentive, and almost always had a thought to add to the discussion, or would raise a good question. He never failed to thank me for taking the time to prepare and teach, and compliment me on the lesson. This past Sunday was no exception.
I will miss Mr Joseph Guilbeau.