Letter: Remembering a dear friend and shepherd
On Nov. 5, the members of Mathews Chapel United Methodist Church lost a dear friend and shepherd, the Rev. Robert Painter. Not many people know about his humble beginnings and his journey to achieve his education and calling in life.
With an eighth grade education, young Robert Painter left his native West Virginia for better educational opportunities and attended God’s Bible School in Cincinnati, Ohio. There he worked in the cafeteria to help pay for his tuition, room and board. In World War II, he served in the Medical Corps as an ambulance driver on the front lines, where no wounded soldier, Allied or Axis, was left behind. Following the war, he joined his father working in the coal mines for a short time. Then, taking advantage of the G.I. Bill, he returned to school at Union Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.
He began ordained ministry in 1952 and served churches in Ohio and Virginia. In 1981, he and his beloved wife, Roberta, were appointed to Mathews Chapel and they became a part of my church family. Rev. Painter’s wise and concise sermons always included a joke—usually a bit corny. His gentle spirit touched not only our congregation, but many in the community, with his quiet, loving care. His generosity extended to the bounty of his garden.
After his retirement in 1987, the Painters remained in Cobbs Creek and Rev. Painter continued to serve as interim pastor in many area churches.
I am grateful for his presence in the life of my family. He will be missed by all who knew him. Rest in peace, Pastor Bob.
Cobbs Creek, Va.