Issue 269 — The Paregien Journal — Feb. 27, 2014
It’s a Small, Small World
by Stan Paregien Sr.
Way back in the mid-1950s my wife and her two elder sisters were bubbly teenagers in Kearney, Nebraska. “The Allen Sisters”–Charlotte the Eldest (now Mrs. Bill Richardson of Indianapolis and in the winter of Sarasota, FL) and Paula the Elder (now Paula King and living in Keizer, Oregon) and Peggy the Younger (now Mrs. Stan Paregien and full-time residents of Bradenton, FL), along with their much younger adopted brother Tim, were the children of Mr. and Mrs. Woody (Pauline Meador) Allen. Woody Allen was the preacher for the local congregation of the Church of Christ.
Well, they were all acquainted with a teenage boy at their church named Robert (“Bob”) Jacobson. The Allen girls also went to the local public school with Bob and to various youth events such as summer church camps, etc.
Woody Allen and a large group of others worked together to “re-tool” an existing–but going broke–state-owned campus into a thriving Christian college. Some years later Bob Jacobson graduated from Kearney State University and took a job as a business education professor at that college — York College in York, Nebraska. It is still in existence today.
Fast-forward nearly 60 years. On Sunday, February 23, 2014, the Allen Girls and Bob Jacobson had a reunion in Sarasota, Florida. Bob and his second wife Regina (Whitman Summers) came up from their home in Ft. Myers, Florida and attended Bible class and worship services with Paula Allen King (visiting from Oregon) and Stan and Peggy (Allen) Paregien at the Central Church of Christ on Proctor Road.
Afterward, Charlotte (Allen) and Bill Richardson joined them for a nice lunch and even better reunion and visit at Elaine’s Restaurant in Sarasota.
Now there were a couple of things we discovered on this day which really point out just how small our world really is. First, Bob Jacobson at church earlier in the day had met one of the church elders named Clay Landes. After a few minutes of visiting and comparing their pasts, they discovered that they had each served on the Board of Advisors of York College . . . at the very same time. Yikes. It is a small world.
Then during lunch, I was visiting with Bob’s wife, the former Regina Whitman Summers. She told me she had been a Baptist and was originally from Greenville, Kentucky. I told her that during 1963-1964 I was a sophomore at Lipscomb University in Nashville and that as a student minister I had been the part-time (weekend) preacher at the Church of Christ in Greenville, Kentucky. Although she attended the Baptist Church, she was quite familiar with the congregation of the Church of Christ. She knew, as did we, an elder there named Mr. Wells (I cannot at the moment remember his first name). And she knew the children and Mr. and Mrs. Wells, Rita Wells and her younger brother Freddie. I remember after preaching one Sunday morning, going home with a family at Greenville, and after lunch sitting and watching some TV program (in black-and-white, of course). A bulletin interrupted with the news that Lee Harvey Oswald (the man who shot and killed President John Kennedy a few days earlier) had just been shot and killed while being transferred from the Dallas County Jail.
Well, the plot really thickens here, because my wife Peggy went to work in the business department at Lipscomb University in early 1963. One of her co-workers was Mrs. Vernon (Rita Wells) Martin. And we became close friends with Rita and Vernon. It may have been Rita who told me about the church in Greenville being in need of a part-time preacher. In any event, I began preaching there and did so for about a year.
After Rita’s husband graduated and they divorced, we maintained a long-distance friendship with Rita Wells Martin until the present time. We last saw her face to face was when we visited Nashville in about 2011 and had supper together at a nice restaurant near Vanderbilt. Rita (Wells Martin) married Russ Burchett some 27 years ago. They live in Springfield, Tennessee.
We always enjoy making new friends. But there is nothing quite as good as rediscovering old friends . . . and finding new friends with unexpected mutual connections with us.