Good Friends

Gene Autry was a bid deal in the ‘30’s and ‘40’s. In those days, he was known as America’s Favorite Singing Cowboy. He was discovered by Will Rogers, the famous humorist. Star of radio, movies, and television, Autry traveled the country making personal appearances to record crowds. During World War II, Autry joined the Army Air Corps to serve in the China-India-Burma theater of war. Sergeant Autry and his crew often had to fly over the Himalayas air route called “The Hump,” one of the most hazardous flights of the war.

 

Not just some hick from Texas, Autry possessed a visionary spirit. He was the first major movie star to see the value of a new technology – television. He had a sharp business mind and invested well in his industry, producing shows or owning radio and television stations. He has another love – baseball. With his considerable assets, he purchased the California Angels baseball club. Active in major league baseball, Autry held the title of vice president of the American League until his death in 1998.

 

Among his many friends and colleagues in baseball, Autry had a special relationship with Walter O’Malley, who was president of the Los Angeles Dodgers for many years. They had a running joke about their friendship. Gene Autry put it this way: “There’s nothing in the world I wouldn’t do for O’Malley. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for me. That’s the way it is. We go through life doing nothing for each other.”

 

The truth was that these two powerful, influential men cared deeply for each other. In a highly competitive business, neither forgot that a strong relationship and genuine respect were more important than posturing and politics. When O’Malley brought the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, Autry could have seen the move as a threat. Instead, he supported the move and offered to help pave the way for the new-to-the-area franchise. He complimented his friend for his business acumen and his baseball expertise.

 

Isn’t that what good friends do? Think about the friends you can count on. Think about the friends who can count on you. Relationships still matter most in this life!

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About Mark Wilbanks

Dr. Wilbanks became Wieuca’s fifth senior pastor in February of 2012. Mark’s father, Oliver Wilbanks, served as Associate Pastor here from 1966 to 1982. Wieuca had a tremendous influence in shaping Mark’s call to ministry during his teenage and young adult years. A graduate of both Southern and New Orleans Baptist Theological seminaries, Mark has served churches in Kentucky, Florida, and Georgia. He pastored Southside Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida for 17 years and Bradfordville First Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida for ten years. He and his wife, Kim, were married in 1979 and have two sons, Andy and Jordan. Andy is married to Lindsay and they have a son, Cade, a daughter, Ruthie, and welcomed their third child, Samuel, in October.

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