Alberta Lee Feagle, she is a person we all love. She was born on May 27, 1952 along with her twin sister Roberta to Earnest and Bertha Pearl (Aubuchon) Crain, at St. Joseph Hospital here in Kansas City, Missouri. Alberta lived 67 and entered into rest on February 2, 2020. She was proceeded in death by her parents, and survived by her Husband (Gene), her son (Andrew), and her sister (Roberta), all of Kansas City Missouri. And loved by all of us, her friends and family.
Both Alberta and Roberta, grew up in the Kansas City area and early in their lives they began to develop the characteristics that we have always seen so strongly in their lives. At fourteen they volunteered at the Jackson County hospital. This experience gave Alberta the direction and encouragement for her future life and career. Alberta and Roberta both went to school at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, MO. While in Maryville, Alberta, volunteered with at the Baptist Student Union assisting many on the suicide line. Which I am not at all surprised by since she was always a person willing to listen and help others.
After graduating, Alberta worked for twenty-eight years as a social worker for the State of Missouri. While working, she did her best to make her clients feel as if they were the most important person she was helping at that time, and she would always go the extra mile for them. Even during the 1980’s when there was such fear surrounding the AIDS crisis, she would always make sure her clients were cared for. She would not let fear dictate her actions, and she would greet everyone by at least shaking their hand because the touch of others is very important to our sense of humanity.
In 1977, while managing her cases at Truman Medical Center, she met the man who would marry, Gene. Gene told me that he would see her walking through the halls and he eventually asked her if she would like to go to a baseball game, and she said sure. They were married the next year on August 12, 1978. Alberta and Gene had one child, Andrew. She was very proud of her son, and the fact that he grew to be a man that possessed a spirit of generosity, and a willingness to help others. This is a characteristic that she valued a great deal, and it showed through every aspect of her life.
After she retired from the State, she became a substitute teacher at Boone Elementary. And even when she was struggling through her cancer treatments and other medical hardships she spent as much time as she could volunteering at the school when she sister, Roberta, was working. There were times that she would put in a full week’s work as a volunteer. That, to me, is a perfect image of who Alberta is. She gave of herself to others. And she made everyone she met feel important and loved. Even my own son would often ask when we would go to Aunt Kay’s, if his friends were going to be there, because he enjoyed their company.
As a pastor, I have enjoyed the encouraging words that Alberta would give, and I remember the first week that I was in Kansas City spending a day talking and drinking coffee with both Alberta and Roberta. And I am glad that they were not only cousins, but friends.
I asked Roberta what passage we should use to remember Alberta, and to be honest there are so many. The generosity, mercy, encouragement, and compassion that she shared with others is something encouraged throughout scripture and something that she not only spoke about but lived. So, it became very difficult to choose just one. Then on Tuesday, while I was at work Roberta called me all excited because she believed that God had provided what we were seeking.
As Drew was driving home, he drove through some papers in the roadway. You might want to ask him for more details, but one of those papers blew up and got stuck in the grill of his truck and stayed there for the rest of the trip. When he got home, he saw that paper sticking out of the vehicle and he pulled it out and looked at it. That random piece of paper stuck to the grill had passages of scripture printed on both sides. One of those passages I would like to read today.
Mark 10:46–52 (ESV)
46 And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
This passage is very important to the family for many reasons. In February 2003 Gene, Andrew, Roberta, and Alberta’s house caught fire. The fire was intense, and the fire fighters were amazed that everyone survived. And the only injury was that Roberta’s eyes were burned, leaving her unable to see. They prayed for Roberta’s eyes, and she told me that she even used words like Bartimaeus in this passage. “Lord, if only you would let me see. And their faith was not misplaced because her eyes did heal, and she can see as clearly as before.
That story excites me, because it is a witness to God’s care for us even to this day. But there is so much more to this passage than meet the eyes. The road between Jericho and Jerusalem was a very important one. Jericho was the city that the trade routes went through as the made their way to Jerusalem, and the tolls for the various goods were collected in Jericho so that as the traders approached the city, they did not cause greater chaos with traffic. The fact that a blind man was on that road is odd, because the road is not exactly easy to traverse. It is a mountainous pathway, with switchbacks and drop offs like many mountain roads. It is not someplace a blind man would want to travel, yet here he is on the roadside.
He is sitting there as a great crowd move toward him. Imagine the roar of that crowd and being unable to see who or what was coming toward you. But eventually he hears who is part of this crowd, and he cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Scripture is full of fun little oddities. And when we see a name in a passage it is usually important. I looked up these names and the meanings of the names. Bartimaeus in Aramaic literally means Son of Timaeus. But when the name Timaeus is written in Greek it has a similar sound to the name we know as Timothy, which means highly favored. But they wrote the name in a redundant form, meaning they meant for us to read an Aramaic name and a Greek name, and when we do this Timaeus in Aramaic means unclean. Bartimaeus is son of unclean but he becomes son of the highly favored.
In ancient times, and even today many people believe that if someone went blind it was because of some sin in their lives. Bartimaeus. When the crowd approaches, he is treated as if he is unclean, but he does not hold back, instead he cries louder. And Jesus calls him forward, and his faith in Jesus changed him. He moved from being unclean to clean. He moved from total disfavor to highly favored.
That movement that Jesus showed, that act of mercy that restored the humanity of this man is the character Alberta lived. She restored humanity to people that often felt overlooked, rejected, and neglected. She not only did this as a career, but she volunteered these acts of mercy as a teenager in a hospital. She continued as she volunteered her time helping those that felt hopeless as a college student. And after she retired, she continued to show the mercy of God to the students and teachers she dearly loved at Boone.
Jesus said in his most famous sermon, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” When he said this he means that those that participate in acts of mercy and blessed. He goes on to say, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” The pure in heart are those that stay focused on what is most important. Those that do what they do for the right reasons. Alberta showed mercy, she lived mercy and she did so through a pure heart. And today I am confident that she sees God in a way that I long for.
When Bartimaeus heard Jesus’s call, he threw his tunic aside, his only true possession, and he ran to Jesus. Friends, our life here today is just a glimmer of the hope that we have in Christ. His kingdom is both here today and yet to come. Alberta has thrown aside what she has here and has run to the arms of God. A God who loves her, and all of us so much that he sent his son to live among us. His son experienced a full life with us, teaching us how to live with each other and with God. And he gives us hope by providing the way to restore our relationship with God through his death and resurrection. We have that hope now and forever more when we like Bartimaeus toss the worries of this life aside and run to Christ. We like him can say “Lord, let me see,” and in our faith in him, he will show us that of God in those around us. And as we stay focused on him, we will one day see him face to face.
Today we celebrate the life of Alberta Feagle. As we remember the life that Alberta lived among us, let us sit in a time of Holy Expectancy or as those from my faith tradition would say communion in the manner of friends. As we remember Alberta and as we reflect of Christ remember that she was truly a bearer of the image of Christ among us. If some memory or word of encouragement comes to you during this time, please feel free to share it with us all. And let us move from this place carrying the testimony of life that she lived with us and sharing that same spirit with those in our community.
1 What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer!
2 Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer!
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer!
3 Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge–
take it to the Lord in prayer!
Do your friends despise, forsake you?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he’ll take and shield you;
you will find a solace there.
It is in an hour of need that we believe…
The seed of doubt grows not there,
Nor loss; want or despair
For when no answer will come
our hearts turn to him to calm the storms
in our lonely world
Thru tears and rain
He hears every word
For blessed now the hour of need
That opened our hearts to believe.
By Briggin Lyford (AKA Alberta Feagle)
The Lords Prayer
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses (Debts),
as we forgive those who trespass against us (Our Debtors),
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the Kingdom, and the Power and the glory forever, Amen.
Shared ar Parklawn Funeral Home.