Stolen Copper

Far too often, we hear of thieves breaking into an older building and wrecking the place. But they’re not after electronics or jewelry. Instead, they rip out copper piping to sell as scrap.

That very thing happened in Troy, New York last week at Sixth Avenue Baptist Church. Reports say that 100 feet of copper piping was stolen, leaving behind a mess and an inability to operate the heating and plumbing systems within the building.

While no one has been arrested as of the date I write this post, I still question the intellectual capacity of the thieves. Certainly, I would not be hacking away at a water-filled copper pipe to steal from a church.

After all, copper is a great conductor. It’s the kind of thing a lightning bolt would really love to travel along. Just saying…

Seriously, though, I was especially saddened to hear about this theft.

You see, my wife and I were married at Sixth Avenue Baptist Church more than a decade ago. It was the church we attended while we were in college. The church family provided us with a home away from home. The pastor, his wife, and their kids demonstrated hospitality every week. They picked us up at college, and they shared a wonderful home-cooked meal with us every Sunday after church.

Outside Sixth Avenue Baptist Church on our wedding day.

Outside Sixth Avenue Baptist Church on our wedding day.

Without a doubt, the church family played a huge role in helping both of us face the academic and social challenges of life at college.

It was why we chose to say our vows at the church.

Sixth Avenue Baptist Church is located in an area of Troy that has seen better days. It is a century-old, large brick building. Beautiful stained glass windows adorn the large sanctuary.

It was our church, and I know I’m just a tad biased, but I it was the site of the best wedding I’ve ever attended.

Not everything associated with our wedding day is still around. The bakery that made our cake: closed. The Hudson River boat that hosted our reception: replaced with a newer model. But the church building has continued to provide space for groups ministering to that area of Troy. It’s not the same pastor or congregation these days, but I’m confident the ministry remains especially important for the area.

So, when another church in the region, Victory Christian Church, stepped up to provide financial help, I was very grateful. I suspect, though, that there is still a large need to replace and fix what these thieves have stolen.

So, my wife and I will be putting a check into the mail. It’s not anything big, but I’m convinced that ordinary folks can make a difference for a church like this. I have faith that it will be used for important things in the local community.

Anybody else want to help out?

Profiles of the Extraordinary – My Friend Kathleen

Kathleen was a close friend of mine from my Navy days.  She and I were both Navy Supply Corps officers serving on a big ol’ gray supply ship.  We both proudly wore our US Navy uniforms with rank insignia on the right collar and the Supply Corps oak leaf & acorns insignia on the opposite side.  (Interesting note… supply officers are often called “chops” because their insignia looks a bit like a pork chop.)

It’s been over a decade since I last saw Kathleen.  The happy memories of our friendship are still vivid.  She served as the Food Service Officer on our ship.  Let’s just say that I ate well while on the ship.  We hung out once or twice on the Jersey Shore.  While overseas, it was Kathleen who accidentally ordered me my first Big Mac.  Our ship was visiting Palma, Spain and the only restaurant open was McDonald’s.  Kathleen tried ordering in Spanish. However, instead of getting one #4 value meal, she got four #1 value meals.  It was Big Macs for the whole gang.

My favorite memory is her involvement in my wedding.  She was one of six officers who participated in creating the sword arch for my wife and me to walk through after the wedding ceremony.

Sword Arch

Kathleen - 2nd from right.

But before I tell you more about Kathleen, I have to explain why I am posting this.  Truthfully, I never expected to profile her.  I have other posts in the queue, including another Profile of the Extraordinary.  There are certainly other issues that deserve my attention, especially in the political realm.  And despite their importance, I have not been able to click on the “publish” button to share them with you.

Why?  I wasn’t sure until tonight.  I suppose I thought that I had some good reasons.  I’ve been busy with grad school work.  I’ve suffered through some recent agonizing tooth pain. (Looks like I’ll need a root canal.  Ugh.)  I had a short bout with a stomach bug.  But those are just excuses.

The reason for this post begins with a recent trip to the Washington DC area.  My wife and I attended the wedding of one of my closest college friends.  He was also another Supply Corps Officer, and he served as my best man and leader of the sword detail for my wedding.  As we attended his wedding reception at Top of the Town in Arlington, VA, we marveled at the magnificent view of Washington, DC.  I was thrilled to chat with several other naval officers at the reception.  Interestingly, I discovered that three of us had served with Kathleen at one command or another. Navy Supply is a small community, I suppose.

View from Top of the Town

It was while talking to these acquaintances that I found out that Kathleen was nearby.  Matter of fact, you could see her place of residence from the reception venue.

Arlington National Cemetery.

Arlington National Cemetery - Just below the Pentagon

Kathleen passed away about a decade ago.  In typical Navy fashion, we had moved away from each other, but we still exchanged Christmas cards. One year, I was surprised when we did not receive a card from her.  A few weeks later, we were stunned to receive a handwritten note from Kathleen’s mother.  It turns out that Kathleen had passed away earlier that year. I believe it was the result of some sort of heart condition.

I smile to know that she is resting peacefully in Arlington.  In my humble opinion, that is the place of greatest honor for an Ordinary Military Citizen to be interred.  She deserves to be there.  She was an extraordinary naval officer.  Dedicated, hard-working, professional, patriotic.  She was an extraordinary friend.  An excellent listener, a great sense of humor.  I still miss her.

It is difficult to type with tears in my eyes.  But they are tears of sadness and joy.

Fair winds and following seas, Kathleen.  Rest in Peace.  We miss you.

Profiles of the Extraordinary is a category within the This Ordinary Citizen blog.  It features Ordinary Citizens who show us what it means to be Extraordinary.  If you know someone who should be profiled, contact the author.

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