I have always had the highest esteem for my older brother Berry Lee (Bubba). From earliest remembrance he was my hero on many levels. He was an outstanding student throughout all his academic years; he was an excellent athlete in football even playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks; he had a sterling character and best of all he spent lots of time teaching me many sporting skills and talking to me about character. If I ever thought he had a fault it was he was too meticulous with details, and he always insisted I mind our parents without questions.
When Bubba completed his internship year and then served two years of active duty in the Air Force, he and his wife LaNell decided to return to our hometown in El Dorado, Arkansas where he would practice general medicine with our Pop. Most people thought Bubba would go into some type of academic medicine, because he was so brilliant throughout medical school graduating at the top of his class. While he worked hard to build a successful medical practice he also became involved in numerous civic projects. He was one of the more prominent members of the Republican Party of Union County when it was very unpopular to be a Republican in a predominately Democratic state. He led the fight locally to get Barry Goldwater elected President, but Goldwater was soundly defeated. Everything Bubba put his hand to he did with great zeal and fervor. Pop would occasionally ask him, “What are you crusading for these days?”
Bubba and Pop practiced medicine together for eight years, while Pop’s health gradually deteriorated. Pop departed this life in January, 1966 and Bubba continued in a solo practice. Cathy and I had already moved to New Orleans where I was in training as a general surgeon, and while there we kept in touch with my Mom and Bubba. We knew most of the important things which were occurring at home. What we had not heard; however, was in mid-1967 Bubba experienced a spiritual conversion as a result of the witness of several friends. His life was transformed, and we knew nothing about it.
Several months following his conversion I received a phone call from a prominent businessman in my hometown. I didn’t know him very well and only knew him by his reputation as a respected man in the community. He said to me, “I’ve got some bad news to tell you about your brother.” My first thought was Bubba had been seriously injured or had died, but it would have been strange for this man to call me instead of a family member. He said, “I believe your brother has gone off the deep end.” “What in the world are you talking about?” I said. He explained Berry Lee had “some type of religious experience,” and was at the hospital talking to his patients daily “about God, church and religious things! To make matters even worse, he is praying out loud with his patients and making an embarrassing scene for everyone else in the hospital.” Now I am mad at this man for accusing my hero of being an embarrassment, and I said to him in a firm voice, “Well, just what do you want me to do, have him committed to an insane asylum?” “No, he replied politely, I just wanted to make you aware of what was happening, so you perhaps could convince him to tone down.” “Thanks for the call and the information,” I said as I hung up.
This occurred during a time when it was very unusual for a physician to pray with patients and to witness Christ to them. I had never experienced anything similar in my training, so I wasn’t sure the accusation of which that man had accused Bubba was true or not. Neither Cathy nor I were believers so were not able to rejoice in Bubba’s love for the Lord Jesus and his bravery to withstand some of the silent and now vocal accusations of insanity.
It was almost 10 years to the day following this call when both Cathy and I had a spiritual conversion, and our lives changed as well. Since that day in 1977 I never heard anyone accuse me of being crazy until about 3 years ago just before Bubba died. We were laughing about the impact of the phone call back in 1967 and what many people thought and said about him in those days. He then paid me one of the greatest compliments I ever heard from him when he said, “As crazy as people thought I was in those days, you and Cathy became a lot crazier than I ever was!” As I hugged him good-bye I said, “Isn’t it wonderful to be crazy for Jesus?”