Ordinary Celebration of Life Service Becomes Extraordinary

by Chet Jordan

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Originally published in Southern Tidings. Used with permission.


memorial service held for John Kossick at Florida Living Church, Apopka, Fla., followed the normal pattern with music, prayer, and words of comfort from Alan Jones, pastor, and numerous memories from relatives and friends.

“Both my father and mother were on the school board of a church sponsored elementary school,” shared Kevin Kossick, superintendent of education for Georgia-Cumberland Conference. “At a board meeting, the chairman stood up and began to speak, ‘There is a single mother of three girls who has applied to enroll them in our school. She has been sacrificing a long time by driving her girls from Akron to Cleveland to another Adventist school where they stay all week with an aunt. Each week, she takes them on Sunday and gets them on Friday. Now, she must make plans to have them attend locally, so they won’t need to enroll in public school.’

The Wimbish sisters finished school, became teachers, and married ministers. From left: Osceola, whose husband, the late Roscoe Howard, D.Min., was one of the vice presidents for what was known as Adventist Health System; Desiree is married to G. Alexander Bryant, D.Min., North American Division president; and Wynona is married to Calvin Preston, South Atlantic Conference vice president for ministerial and evangelism.

“Several protests went up from school board members, then silence until John Kossick spoke, ‘I think we need to call the teacher who will be instructing these girls and ask her what she thinks about it.’ With a telephone in the room, John strode right to it and called the teacher who graciously responded, ‘I’d be delighted to have these girls.’ The teacher’s reply settled the matter.”

At the memorial service, an unexpected voice was suddenly heard as an attractive woman stood and reached for the microphone, “I was one of those three little girls who began attending that Church school,” said Osceola Howard. “We finished elementary school there and went on to academy and college.” All three of those little girls became teachers. Wynona Preston ended up in library media until she retired. Osceola Howard left teaching and began volunteering in the chaplaincy department. Desiree Bryant is now North American Division ministerial spouses leader.

John Kossick’s words and actions helped the Wimbish sisters attend Church school. He is pictured with his wife, Betty.

Satan’s plan to destroy these little girls’ Christian education experience was foiled thanks to John Kossick’s words and his actions that day in the school board meeting. God’s will was accomplished. Kossick set an example of “love your neighbor as yourself!”


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