Wednesday, January 27, 2016

My Friend

     I don't normally do this, but I want to talk of a friend of mine who died recently.  My first encounter with Donald "Buddy" Wray was in Northwest Arkansas when I moved to Springdale to begin my graduate work.  He was President and CEO of Tyson Foods, the well-known chicken company based in Springdale, Arkansas.  He was a man with a quick smile and warm personality.
     Not long after we had moved, one rainy evening I received a call from Buddy.  The Razorbacks were playing basketball that night and Buddy called to ask what I was doing.  I told him if I had a friend with tickets to the game, I would go with him.  He said I'll be right over.  The location of Buddy's seats were incredible.  He was on the third row with one seat on one side of mid-court, and the other on the other side of mid-court.  To this young fan, what an evening.
     Buddy was a giver.  If he saw a need, he helped.  I've known of several who needed money for mission work or a wedding or just anything, Buddy was willing to give.  In fact, a lady told me at his funeral that her husband was extremely sick and needed some medicine.  The insurance company would not pay for it because they deemed it too expensive.  Buddy asked this lady what was going on and she informed Buddy of the insurance company's decision.  Buddy told her, "Tell 'em it's covered."  She said, "Buddy, it's in the six figures."  He said, "Tell 'em it's covered."
     No one hears these stories.  But I respect a man who quietly, without fanfare, goes about and uses his gifts and his means to help others.  The present CEO of Tyson foods spoke at his funeral.  He mentioned the type of servant-leader Buddy was.  You don't often hear those two used used together, let alone in the same sentence.   That was Buddy.
     One more story.  Tyson employees are known to wear khaki pants and khaki shirts.  The shirt has the Tyson logo and the name of the employee embroidered on the shirt.  Most all wear this "uniform" to work.  I was in Buddy's office one day (it was oval an egg, he explained.)  and I asked him, "Buddy, why do Tyson employees wear khaki's to work?"  He responded to my question with a question.  (Hmmm, sounds similar to the Lord he served).  He said, "Jim, let me ask you a question.  Would you be more likely to walk into a chicken house wearing khakis or wearing a suit?" Good answer.
     I'll see Buddy again.  He was a godly man, a good man, a family man, a follower of Jesus.  It was a honor to know him.  Rest in peace, Buddy.

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