“He Was a Good Christian Man”
ONE of Jehovah’s Witnesses went to the superintendent of schools for Hardin and McNairy counties, in Tennessee, with the September 22, 1981, Awake! on evolution. The superintendent made the statement that Adamsville high school would not be operating if it were not for “that Kingdom Hall.” The Witness had heard that before and had always wondered what it meant. He asked the superintendent.
It seems that at one time the county wanted to close that school and bus the students fifteen miles away to McNairy central high school in Selmer. The residents of Adamsville opposed that decision, but the officials had a plan. They would appoint Chis, the athletic coach, as principal of the school. Since he was a hopeless alcoholic, he would soon be fired and that would be used as an excuse to close Adamsville high. Chis was well liked in spite of his alcoholism, and while he was coach the school never lost a game.
Soon after he became principal, Chis began studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. He quit drinking, and that blew their plan to fire him for alcoholism and close down the school. Chis became an elder in the Adamsville congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, proved to be an outstanding principal and gained the respect of both teachers and students.
Some two years ago Chis died of a heart attack—six months after he had retired. His wife, a Presbyterian, wanted both a Witness and her minister to speak at the funeral. However, the Witness declined because of the conflict of viewpoints that would result. “Besides,” he explained, “Chis never even liked this minister. How would he feel if he knew?” She agreed, and the service would be held minus the minister.
A large crowd was anticipated, so they chose the school gym for the service. The stores closed and the merchants were present, as well as many of the town’s residents and civic leaders. Floral arrangements lined one end and the length of the gym. Both classical music and Kingdom songs were played as hundreds filed in. The Presbyterian minister also came.
One by one faculty members spoke. Then the Witness who had previously talked to the superintendent of schools gave his discourse. He explained how death had come about, the condition of the dead, the hope of resurrection and the blessings to come under Christ’s kingdom.
Later Adamsville built a new school and dedicated the gym to T. E. Chism. On a huge bronze plaque in the gym his accomplishments are listed. The last one is, “He was a good Christian man.”