Charlene Hill Stapleton recently went home and heavens gain has left a void at the corner of 109 East 12th Street as you ride down Military Avenue.
It's the home of True Value Farm and Home, formerly Food Fair Grocery. It's also the home of the City Christmas tree.
Bob S. and Chuck V. picked the spot for the community tree from the window at Murphy's Diner one Baxter morning long ago. The tree lighting is the day before the cities annual Christmas Parade. Local musicians play at the tree lighting ceremony. She was proud to host that tree.
My original interview with sister Charlene was December 13, 2017. My very first article was published at Thanksgiving. Twenty two months later you're still reading and I'm still writing.
She also shared me that cold December day that once 2 fellows were waiting in the parking-lot when she drove up to open. They inquired if True Value sold hunting license. Yes, "Come on in," exclaimed Charlene with her joyful smile. As she assisted the younger of the two, the other gentleman asked if he could use the rotary phone. Charlene asked if the call was local and the kind gentleman assured her he would use his calling card.
As Charlene filled out the necessary paperwork with the son, she noticed the name and asked if they were any kin to Sam Walton. In fact that was founder, Samuel Moore Walton (March 29, 1918 - April 5, 1992) founder of Walmart & Sam's Club on the rotary phone. Upon his death Sam Walton was worth 8.6 billion dollars, so he was good for the call. Who did he call and why didn't he purchase his hunting license at the other end of town at the neighborhood Wal-Mart remains unanswered and a mystery.
I always enjoyed my visits with Charlene and her beloved sister Geniene. Charlene often spoke of her late husband and I visited her church twice. She always looked you right in the eye when talking and had a permanent smIle on her face. Now Charlene believed what she believed and didn't mind letting it out.
This beautiful woman loved and lived to serve her customers and her church, St. Joseph's Parish in Baxter Springs Kansas. On my recent visit she shared how her plan was to sell the business at True Value before the end of the year and put all her efforts into her church, serving Jesus Christ. She had promised her family she would slow down a bit. She wasn't going to sell the building. She was very proud of that corner.
I tried to take her photo on my last visit but had to settle on a picture of the Corelle Living ware by Corning, Stone ware by PFALTZGRAFF - 5 Piece settings, 20 piece Royal stone dish ware sets and Equity wall clocks. Some of these items are from back in the day.
They still have roller skate keys and bicycle parts from 1978. The keys are 15 cents! They have zippers left over from 1971 Food Fair days. Some things still have the original price. I also saw a professional heavy duty oil can spout.
Keep the family of this kind soul in your prayers. She was a small town treasure and one of a kind. I will think of her when that Christmas tree is standing back on her corner greeting each passerby. Visit youtube.com and search Duane Lyon Jesus Saves to view a video in honor of Charlene Hill Stapleton. God really loves her, me too and you. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your people or place write idea.
* Lyon is a international writer, world traveler and poet who lives part-time in Baxter Springs.