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If you are lucky in your lives, you will find one or two people (besides family) that make a profound impact on everything you do. Fortunately, I have had more than a few but probably none more influential than Gene Hall.

Gene is drawing nearer to winning his fight with cancer. A couple of years ago, he came down with cancer and has spent this whole time, fighting tooth and nail to beat it -- and he is just about to do so. He has decided to decline further treatment and enjoy the time that he has left with his family and friends.

Gene is handling this with grace and class just like he has the rest of his life. He isn't there yet but, when he crosses Jordan, it will be in a luxury liner. Wait a minute, I take that back, he will not be in a luxury liner, he will be in a fishing boat because that is how he has lived -- not to be served but to serve others and bring a few fish along for those waiting.

We will miss this gentleman immensely but we will take solace in knowing that he went out of this life the same way he lived the rest of it. And, with his great family right there beside him. Can you really think of a better way to meet Jesus?

There is not a time in my life that I cannot remember Gene being present. We all lived in Goodman and he was one of my Sunday School teachers at Goodman First Baptist. I'm sure that he has fond memories of those rowdy young men that were so eager to pay attention and to learn.

As if that was not enough to earn stars in your heavenly crown, he was also one of my baseball coaches. In a small town in the '60s, you barely had enough players to field a team and that was enough stress by itself to worry about whether or not you were going to play on any given day. I don't ever remember forfeiting but it was probably close a few times.

Later, Gene was present when I worked in human resources and he worked in the Economic Securities Division of the state of Missouri, where we interacted -- this time as peers. Now that was strange, to say the least.

Then after working for the state of Missouri once, he decided to do it again and served several terms as the McDonald County Clerk, then Circuit Clerk, where he always won by wide margins.

Again, we worked together when I was elected State Representative. And, I always truly appreciated any political advice that he would send my way -- even though we were both pretty much novice politicians.

As you can see, there is not a time in my life that I cannot remember the presence of Gene Hall in my life, and one of these days I will miss seeing him in this life but sure look forward to our visits in the next. Thank you, Gene, for all you have meant to me and a host of other people.

Kevin Wilson is a former state representative who was born in Goodman and now lives in Neosho. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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