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Portrait of Reverend Joe W. Beal

Staff report

Early in life I learned the importance of hard work, education, and belief in one's self. There was always work to do. I can't remember a time when I did not work. There was always much work to do at home. Work continued in the cotton, corn, and hay fields of Henderson County Tennessee--chopping, pulling, and picking cotton; hoeing corn fields; and stacking bales of hay on a trailer and then into a barn. We worked hard to make a living. In the summer, we would push the lawn mower to town and mow yards. If you wanted something, you worked for it. Our school motto was, "Work, Work, and More Work."

My father always pushed us to do well in school. My grandfather, the late George W. Beal, born in 1891, organized and taught at one of the first schools for African Americans in Tennessee. While my own father finished only the 6th grade and my mother the 4th grade, six of their children earned college degrees, three of whom earned post graduate degrees.

Thirdly, early in life, we were taught to believe in ourselves. Over and over again, in the face of any challenge, I was told, "You are a Beal. You can do it." Or, if something was said or done that we should not have said or done, we heard, "You are a Beal, and Beals don't do that." The family name was important, and we were challenged to live in ways that would bring honor and respect to the family name.

n Most people would never guess that I worked in the funeral industry for many years. I've actually closed bodies during post-autopsy, dressed them, and prepared them for viewing.

n One important memory I treasureâ ¦ One of my most treasured memories is that of a visit I made to my father, as he had been hospitalized in Jackson, Tennessee. I lived in Dyersburg at the time and had been notified of his hospitalization. I got out of bed and made the trip to Jackson. When I walked into his room he looked at me and said, "I knew you were coming." The look on his face and the tone of his voice said to me that he had be lying there waiting for me to come. I am moved still, as I think of it now. Treasured also, are the first time I saw Evie, and the birth of our two precious and dear children, Christopher and Bethany.

n When facing a fork in life's road, I generally pause, pray, and make the best choice based on the information I have at that time.

n The best book I've read recently is "The Road to Character" by David Brooks.

n The best job I had as a kid wasâ ¦I have worked all my life. Working for Big Star Supermarket was my best job as a kid. I began bagging groceries and stocking the shelves. I later became a cashier and by the time I graduated high school, I closed the store in the evenings, and became the frozen foods buyer. I made lots of loving relationships with the many store customers I served. As one who bagged groceries, it always made me smile as the cashier would call for me, as certain customers wanted "me" to bag their groceries.

n When I have 10 minutes to myself, I like to kick back in the recliner and take a good nap.

n One of my scariest moments took place as I attempted to repair a leaky roof on a building I owned in Martin, Tennessee. Although afraid of heights, I talked myself into climbing a ladder and going on to the roof, only to panic and realize the moment I stepped off the ladder that I would not be able to get down. I immediately sat down, took out my cell phone and called the local fire department, and requested that they bring a bucket truck and get me off the roof. I was terrified.

n If I were President, I would work toward peace and racial harmony at home, and unleash every ounce of intelligence and weaponry on ISIS.

n The best things in life are the relationships we make with God and others. Building honest, loving, relationships with God, family, and friends is the foundation to a joyful and happy life.

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