Remember the Past....Celebrate the Present....Grow the Future
Designed by Myra Lilly
Many bricks have been purchased to honor someone as a project in celebration of our 100 Year Anniversary . You honored your loved ones to be remembered forever by purchasing a memorial brick . The brick will hopefully be placed around our new marquee when purchased. Our current marquee needs much repair. Thank you for your generous gift to help us in reaching our goal of a new marquee that will be used as a tool to bring new people in our church with a more visibility . The Covid 19 pandemic has slowed down this project. We will update you as we are able to return to this project.
Read About Our Rich History of Our Church
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Let's celebrate the God's goodness to us throughout 100 years of blessings
Our Faithful Servants
A Faith Story
A figure familiar to almost everyone in the congregation of First Presbyterian Church of South Charleston is E. Graham Shook. To most of us, he is simply Graham. He is so well known that we feel no need to use his last name to identify him to other congregants.
His health has prevented him from being as active as he once was, but we have all seen him singing in the choir, taking dinner payments at WOW, cataloging medicine for the Haiti Mission, or assisting in the offering counting on Sunday. Recently, my wife Debbie and I paid Graham a visit in his home. While we were there, he got to tell us more about his life and life experiences. He has allowed us to share some of what we learned in this article.
Graham is a native of Indiana, although his hometown is very close to the border with Ohio. Born in 1926 – the youngest child in a farm family - he had an older brother and an older sister. They used to tell him that the family had a boy, a girl, and an afterthought. He smiled as he talked about the teasing his siblings gave him.
We asked Graham if growing up on a farm meant lots of hard work. He said it did, but he actually came to enjoy it. Among other things, the daily routine was something he liked and that helped him later in life.
We wondered if his chores included milking the cows before going to school. He told us that although they did not have many dairy cows, he still learned how to milk. In the air, he demonstrated the correct motion needed for successful cow milking. It seems to be a matter of getting the squeezing and the stretching coordinated. It also looked as if Graham could have milked a cow right then and there if one had been available.
Youngest child in a farm family - he had an older brother and an older sister. They used to tell him that the family had a boy, a girl, and an afterthought. He smiled as he talked about the teasing his siblings gave him.
On his family's farm – which was about 100 acres - Graham said they followed a three-year rotation. The first year a field would be planted in corn, the next in wheat, and the next, it would be used for livestock. Graham continued this method when, after graduating from high school, he rented his own 50-acre farm. As time went on, he got more acreage and, for a while, continued the family traditions.
Graham started attending church with his family when he was very young. He said that there were two churches near his home and everybody in the community went to one or the other. His family attended the Congregationalist Christian Church which was where he started his love for music and singing in choirs.
The schools Graham attended were very small. His graduating class had 12 students. Despite the small size, Graham said he felt that he received an excellent education there. We asked if he thought that was because of the individual attention he received. He agreed but said he was able to pursue his own studies on topics that interested him. He later told us that he felt very well prepared for college.
The school itself was built so that it straddled the Ohio-Indiana border. He wasn't entirely sure why that happened or which state provided the funding for books or construction. Nonetheless, he enjoyed his time there.
When Graham graduated from high school, the United States was still involved in World War II. He fully expected to be drafted and join his older brother in the Armed Services. The brother was a co-pilot for the US Army Air Corps and flew B26 bombers in Europe. Despite his expectations, Graham was not drafted and was able to spend several years running his own farms. After a few years, the Korean War broke out and he had to re-register for the draft. This time – despite having a deferment for being a farmer – Graham was selected for induction. After tying things up on his farm, he joined the US Air Force for a four-year stint. He was sent to Korea.
Graham laughed as he told us that the Air Force decided that he should be a cartographer – a map maker – for the bomber pilots in the Korean War. He said he could not imagine a farmer from Indiana being assigned to a duty of this type. As time went on, however, he became very good at map making. The bomber pilots appreciated his accuracy and his attention to detail. He continued in this position until his discharge.
Graham could have returned to farming after his Air Force service. Instead he went to school on the GI Bill, attending Purdue University where he earned both bachelor's and master's degrees in Chemical Engineering. He began work in the Research and Development Department of Union Carbide in 1960.
While he was a student at Purdue, Graham met his wife, Leona. One of his summer jobs was in Circleville, Ohio, at a chemical company. At the time, he was dating a girl in Terra Haute, Indiana. He often made weekend trips from Circleville to Terra Haute to see her. It was a long and arduous trip. A friend told Graham that he did not have to travel so far just to date a pretty girl. The friend offered to introduce Graham to someone in his church choir in Circleville. That someone was Leona who soon became Mrs. Graham Shook. They moved to South Charleston in 1960 when he accepted the posit
ion with Union Carbide. There they raised their daughter, Diane, and their son, Glenn.
Over the years, Graham and Leona provided many services to the community and to First Presbyterian Church. They were elders, committee members, choir members, baby sitters, offering counters, ushers, and volunteers. Their devotion and dedication to this church is immeasurable. Graham lost Leona in 2005.
Graham told Debbie and me that his life had three phases: The farm phase, the military phase, and the Union Carbide phase. It was clear from talking to him that he enjoyed each phase and that he did his best in each one.
Before we left, Graham said he wanted to relate something that happened in his back yard in early November. It seems a female deer was standing there and she was showing no interest in grazing nor in leaving. Graham said he went to investigate and – despite his presence – the doe still did not move nor appear to want to leave. Further investigation showed that a fawn had become trapped in one of the window wells at the back of Graham's house. The doe was unable to free her child and the fawn was unable to climb out. Graham took a red robe – exercising caution because the doe might have become agitated and attacked him with her hooves – and lifted the fawn to safety. Mom and baby scurried off to the safety of the woods behind Graham's house.
When Debbie and I left Graham's home, we were delighted by all the new things we had learned about this farmer, soldier, engineer, husband, father, community and church servant. The next time you see him, you could thank him for his military service or you could thank him for all he does for the church. If nothing else, just say, “Hi” and give him a hug. He has been a pillar of this church.
--submitted by Joe Fuller