Asleep at the pulpit

Saluda’s ‘sleeping preacher’ gave unusual sermons


July 9, 2007

By KENNY MAPLE
Index-Journal staff writer

Ignoring the call of God can have sacrificial consequences, or just lethargic ones.
Major Perry, a black farmhand from Elgin, was born into slavery in 1831. Though his story is acclaimed, the mystery behind the man who eventually was laid to eternal rest between Saluda and Batesburg still hovers.
What is his story? Simply stated, Perry preached in his sleep.
The Bible’s book of Jonah says the prophet named Jonah, son of Amittai, heard the word of God one day: “‘Arise go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me’” — Jonah 1:2 (English Standard Version).
But what does Jonah, the man renowned for fleeing God and being swallowed by a fish, have in common with Perry?
“It was said that before he (Perry) started preaching, he was called to preach by God,” said Perry’s grandson, Albert Perry, of Saluda County. “He didn’t. He didn’t heed God’s calling. He ran. He went without preaching for a long time.
“I myself, along with a lot of other people, said that the reason he had to preach in his sleep was because he didn’t heed God’s calling to begin with.”
Perry ignored God’s calling just as Jonah did in the first chapter, third verse: “But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.”
And the book also reads, in verses 5 and 6, that Jonah was a sleeper himself: “But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. So the captain came and said to him, ‘What do you mean you sleeper?’ Arise, call out to your god!”
To put a stop to any wondering minds who might think Major Perry gets swallowed by a great fish, the man from Elgin was not cast into the sea, so the comparisons stop there. Or do they?
Jonah was destined to carry out the task in Nineveh that God had set before him. The prophet could not run forever. Neither could Perry. He would serve God for the rest of his life, while lost in slumber.
At age 49, on June 16, 1880, the uneducated black man preached for the first time from his pulpit, also known as his bed. It is said he began talking in his sleep, as many do, but that his words were not merely a mess of syllables, but rather a full-length sermon.
“He used pretty near good English, wherein he was an uneducated farmhand,” Albert Perry said. “He was unable to read or write.”
Word spread, and soon people were coming from all over, or Perry would go to them.
“When preaching in a different location, someone would make a bed for him to lie down in,” Albert said.
Albert, who wasn’t born until about seven years after his grandfather’s death, also said the famous snoozing preacher delivered sermons in different states. Even white people came to hear the man — unheard of in that day.
But Perry could do more than just preach.
“It was told that whenever he started preaching, he would have a devotional service before he started preaching. He had prayer, and also he would recite a hymn out of the hymn book, and after that he proceeded on to preach,” Albert said.
The story of Perry also notes his sermons being interrupted on occasion by cramps. However, if being a little sleepy can’t keep the message from being delivered, why should a little cramp?
“If he would have said ‘glory’ when the cramp would catch him, he would stop at the ‘glo-’ and when the cramp would leave him, he would proceed on to the ‘-ry,’” Perry explained.
Cramps were not the only hindrance to Perry’s sermons. Attempts were made to wake the man or to disrupt his service, but they were never successful.
Rosie M. Perry, wife of Perry’s grandson, Rufus, said plenty of people tried sticking Major Perry with pins or lit matches. But Perry’s wife, Francis Peat, wouldn’t allow it.
So for nearly 45 years, Perry continued to preach every night in his sleep; however, he left the Sunday morning work to Wesley Chapel CME, between Saluda and Batesburg, which he joined in 1896.
Furthermore, he would only allow listeners to hear him Monday through Thursday and wouldn’t discuss his preaching during the day.
“I heard that he didn’t want to talk about it,” said Rufus Perry, the brother of Albert.
And so in 1925, when Perry died, the mystery continued, following Perry to the Wesley Chapel CME cemetery where he is buried — resting finally after serving his time, after avoiding the pulpit, his Nineveh.

Obituaries


Grady Burton

ABBEVILLE — Grady Burton, 85, resident of 701 N. Main St. husband of Oleta Berry Burton died Sunday July 8, 2007, at his home.
Born in Starr, he was a son of the late E.E. and Betty Elizabeth Davis Burton.
He was a retired marketing director with Shell Oil Co. and later retired from School District 60 after teaching at the Career Center. He was a United States Army veteran of World War II. He was also a loyal member of the Abbeville First Baptist Church.
Survivors are his beloved wife of 60 years, Oleta Berry Burton of the home; two sons, Grady W. Burton and his wife Waltzaud of Taos, Mexico, Phil Burton and his wife Libby Meadows of Abbeville; one daughter, Jill White and her husband Scott of Abbeville; one brother, Johnny Burton of Greenwood; nine grandchildren, P.J. Burton and his wife Steph, Ilse Burton, Grady C. Burton and wife Elizabeth, Scott White, Lindsey Burton, Matt White, Cody White, Allegra Heidelinde and Ariana Kramer.
Graveside services will be conducted Tuesday July 10, 2007 at 11 a.m. in Forest Lawn Memory Gardens Cemetery with the Rev.’s Reiny Koschel and Wayne Wiggins officiating.
The body is at The Chandler-Jackson Funeral Home.
The family will recieve friends at the residence 701 N. Main Street, Abbeville.
In Lieu of flowers memorials may be made to Hospice of the Piedmont, 408 W. Alexander Ave., Greenwood, SC 29646.
Online condolences may be made to the Burton family by visiting www.chandlerjacksonfh.com.
The Chandler-Jackson Funeral Home, Abbeville, SC is in charge of arrangements.


Waltzela Crenshaw Coleman

PLUM BRANCH — Rejoice and be glad! No trip is ever complete until you return home! Waltzela Crenshaw Coleman was called home by her Heavenly Father early Sunday morning, July 8, 2007. She found her earthly home in 1942 with parents, Walter and Zelma Crenshaw in Birmingham, AL. The family moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1945, where she attended Higgengottam Elementary, Jefferson and Durfee Junior High, Mumford High School before attending Detroit Institute of Technology and graduating from Wayne State University in 1964.
She expressed her contribution to society by teaching special education classes from 1964 to 1997.
She married Earl R. Coleman in 1966 and from this union came the man child, Earl Raymond and the woman child, Keva Toron.
Having been baptized in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, she lived a Godly life.
Upon retirement, the Colemans moved to Plum Branch, South Carolina. Zela always said this was a blessing and home.
She is survived by her husband, Earl Coleman; parents, Walter and Zelma Crenshaw; son and daughter-in-law, Earl Raymond and Andrea Coleman; granddaughter, Amari Rae Coleman; daughter and son-in-law, Keva Toron and Jason Womble; three brothers, Andre, Fulani, Kwakon; and one sister, N. Joyce.
A public memorial will be held Friday, July 13, 2007 at 11 a.m. at Mount Lebanon Baptist Church, Parksville, South Carolina on Mount Lebanon Church Road.
The family is being assisted by Parks Funeral Home.


Jerry Goins

WHITMIRE — Jerry H. Goins, age 65, of 127 Morse St., died July 7, 2007, at the Wallace Thomson Hospital in Union.
He was born in Kingsport, TN a son of the late Mack and Stella Mae Simpson Goins.
Mr. Goins was a retired employee of Greenwood Mills and was a member of the Roseboro Masonic Lodge No. 195.
Surviving are his wife, Sandra Evans Goins of the home; a son, Kevin Goins of Whitmire; one brother, Gary Goins of Kingsport, TN; one sister, Nancy Frye of Nashville, TN and two grandchildren, Malcon Bramlett Goins and Courtnie Makayla Goins.
He was preceded in death by a sister and four brothers.
A memorial service will be held Tuesday, July 10, 2007 at 2 p.m. in the Gray Funeral Home Chapel in Whitmire with Masonic Rites.
The family will receive friends Monday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the residence.
Condolences may be expressed to the family at www.grayfuneralhome.com.
Gray Funeral Home of Whitmire is in charge.


Ada Lee Holloway Goodman

Ada Lee Holloway Goodman, 81, widow of Youngblood “Tobe” Goodman, of 313 Morton Road, died Sunday, July 08, 2007, at Self Regional Medical Center.
Services are incomplete and will be announced.
The Family is at the home.
Robinson & Son is assisting the Goodman Family.


Jack Hawes

Jack Hawes, widower of Orie Mae Jennings Hawes, of 720 Macedonia Ave., died Sunday, July 8, 2007, at his home.
Services are incomplete and will be announced. The family is at the home.
Robinson & Son Mortuary, Inc. is assisting the Hawes Family.


Bob Ousley

Robert Walker “Bob” Ousley, 57, resident 216 Crestmont Drive, died July 6, 2007 at Self Regional Medical Center.
Born in Danville, VA, November 11, 1949, he was a son of the late Ray W. and Polly Walker Ousley. He was a graduate of Greenwood High School, Lake City Junior College, and was a US Navy Veteran of the Vietnam War where he served in the Navy Seabees. He was formerly employed by the South Carolina Forestry Commission and assisted FEMA on several major disasters.
Mr. Ousley was a charter member of Northwest Volunteer Fire Department and was a member of the Greenwood County Fireman’s Association and the South Carolina Firefighters Association. He was of the Baptist faith.
Surviving are a niece, PJ and husband Greg Kause of Ft. Mill; a great-nephew, Justin Krause; and three great nieces, Lisa Krause, Nicole Krause, Johanna Krause.
Funeral services will be conducted 11:00 AM Wednesday at the Blyth Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Jason Wilson officiating.
Burial will be in Greenwood Memorial Gardens.
Pallbearers will be Tim Norman, Chad Kellum, Keith Alexander, James Clinskscales, Gerald Jeffcoat, O.A. “Pepper” Martin, Ted Martin, Wayne Maxie, Ray Prince and Joe Palmer.
Honorary escort will be members of the Northwest Volunteer Fire Department.
The family is at the home of Richard and Rachel Brown, 986 Ridgewood Harbor Road, Waterloo, and will receive friends at the funeral home from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday evening.
Memorials may be made to Northwest Volunteer Fire Department, 201 Oakwood Drive, Greenwood, SC 29649 or to the Faith Home, PO Box 39, Greenwood, SC 29648.
Online condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.blythfuneralhome.com.
Blyth Funeral Home & Cremation Services is assisting the Ousley family.


Octazvus Monterrio Prince

CALHOUN FALLS — Octazvus Monterrio Prince, 9, of 1040 Seneca St. Ext., son of Barry and Annie Heard Prince, died Saturday, July 7, 2007, at MCMC in Charlotte, NC.
The family is at the home.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete and will be announced by Abbeville & White Mortuary, Inc., Abbeville, SC.


Jeremy Louis Schultz Jr.

Graveside services for Jeremy Louis Schultz, Jr. will be 2 p.m. Tuesday at Sandridge Baptist Church Cemetery with the Rev. Marty Dorn officiating.
The family will receive friends at Harley Funeral Home on Tuesday before the service from 11 a.m. until 1p.m.
The family is at the home.
Jeremy, 28 day old infant, of 1011 Parkland Place Road, No.37, son of Jeremy and Stacy Lipe Schultz, Sr., died Saturday, July 7, 2007, at Self Regional Medical Center.
Surviving in addition to his parents of the home is a sister, Carrie Elizabeth Schultz of the home; two brothers, Richard Blaise Schultz and Paul Jade Schultz both of the home; paternal grandparents Jackie and Susan Brown of Waterloo; maternal grandparents Richard and Teresa Lipe of Chappells; paternal great-grandmother Mary Lawrence; maternal great-grandparents Albert McClain, Jess and Marie Lipe, James and Mary Scott; and two uncles, Joey Bryan and Scotty Lipe.
He was predeceased by his grandfather Jerry Schultz and great-grandfather Paul Lawrence.
Online condolences may be sent to the Schultz family by visiting www.harleyfuneralhome.com.


Ann Stockman

LAURENS — Ann Kohler Stockman, 69, resident of 305 Woodland Way, wife of Myron W. Stockman, died July 8, 2007 at Self Regional Medical Center in Greenwood.
Born in Greenville County September 13, 1937, she was a daughter of the late Henry and Edna Hutchinson Kohler. She was a graduate of Columbia College and received her Master’s Degree from Winthrop College. She retired as an English teacher from Spartanburg High School. She was a member of First United Methodist Church of Laurens.
Surviving in addition to her husband of the home are daughters, Judy Leigh Howard of Dublin, GA and Melinda Ann Kirk of Laurens; two grandsons, Stephen Cooper and John Howard. She was predeceased by a brother, John Kohler.
Memorial services will be conducted at 11 a.m. Wednesday at First United Methodist Church of Laurens with Rev. Bill Rogers officiating.
Private family burial will be in Rehoboth United Methodist Church Cemetery in Greenwood.
The family will receive friends immediately following the service in the church social hall.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church of Laurens Music Program, 244 West Main Street, Laurens, SC 29360.
For online condolences please visit www.blythfuneralhome.com.
Blyth Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Greenwood, is assisting the Stockman family.


CORRECTION

Information in the July 8 obituary for Al Stone has been changed and corrected by the family. Donnie Richardson, listed as pallbearer, has been replaced by Hunter Santiago, a grandson.

Opinion


Retired veterans making this state the place to be

July 9, 2007

Look around Greenwood and the entire Lakelands area. There are a good many military veterans who have made this their retirement home.
There are various reasons for their choice to settle hereabouts. Some have come here because of economic opportunities.
Most though, it appears, have found living on Lake Greenwood, Savannah Lakes, on the many magnificent golf courses that literally dot the countryside, or some other enticing site conducive to a lifestyle attractive to retirees.
South Carolina, in fact, has thousands of military retirees living all over the state. Around Columbia, Sumter and Charleston the existence of military installations enhances the quality of life for those who have honorably served their country for so many years. The relatively mild weather and the cost of living - taxes, etc. - are also drawing cards.
Retired military personnel are more than just retirees, of course. They are a considerable and stable force that contributes much to the economy of the state. In the Lawcountry alone there are reported to be 18,000 retirees. Add the other thousands -Columbia, Sumter, the Lakelands - and the picture is complete.
We can and should thank them, to be sure, for their service. We can also thank them for making South Carolina their home.