News

Some Very Special Neighbors

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Dec 12, 2015

“We become neighbors where we are willing to cross the road for one another.”
Henri J.M. Nouwen

Little did we know that a letter dated April 4, 2004, would have a profound impact on Evie and me. It began, “Please allow me to introduce myself. I am a life-long (77 years) resident of Phoenixville. My husband, as well, is a life-long resident (83 years).” 

I soon learned from this stranger’s letter that she appreciated having the University of Valley Forge (then Valley Forge Christian College) in her neighborhood. In her words, “They are very good neighbors. The annual Community Service Day is just one example of their good neighbor policy.”

In her letter she mentioned how she worked for many years with Daniel Baer, a local businessman and community leader who helped the college move from its former location to its current location, the former Valley Forge General Hospital.  

It was on page two where I really found out why she wrote the letter. “I look forward to your column, 'Think About It,' every week.” She mentioned my newspaper column about drinking coffee as well as my column about writing letters. “I too love the written word. I have great difficulty in disposing the written page.” 

She told me she loves books and had just recently finished reading the biographies of Oswald Chambers and Henry Clay Morrison, and was currently reading the autobiography of Daniel Poling. This stranger and I had many similar interests.

Just before her final paragraph of farewell, she wrote, “I will continue to look forward to your Saturday column.” My first “Think About It” column was published on March 23, 2002, so I had only been writing the column for about two years. Appreciation from any reader inspires any author, including me.  

That letter was written by Betty Weber. And because of that letter, Evie and I were introduced to two of the most wonderful people we could ever meet here in the Phoenixville neighborhood. My return letter ended with my desire to match our calendars so we could get together and perhaps I could host them on our campus.

As soon as I met Betty and her husband, Joe, in my office, I immediately liked them. Over the years Betty has written me many times. Sometimes she references my thoughts from another weekly column. Other times she just writes to update Evie and me about something she has read or something going on in her life. 

From marrying her World War II “returning warrior” to quoting her grandfather, from a visit from her grandson Joey to reconnect with Mike Piazza, a high school classmate, to the health battles of her husband and sweetheart, Joe, and from sending us Christmas cards, Betty has been a faithful letter writer. Each letter includes gracious words of encouragement and support to us. My file is filled with more than 50 from them and I have kept every one. 

You can imagine how sad Evie and I were recently when we received the news that Joe was in the hospital from a stroke. We will always remember our visit and the pain mixed with joy that Betty demonstrated toward her beloved husband of 69 years. As we were about to leave she asked me, if something happened, would I be willing to conduct his funeral.

On October 12, 2015, Joe Weber entered heaven. As we were making arrangements Betty wrote, “It gives me great comfort to know that Joe will be there (heaven). He promised to wait for me at the Eastern Gate. I know he will be there.” 

Now a new season begins for Betty. But her family, her son and grandsons and her neighbors and friends, including Evie and me, will stand with her each step of the way. 

In the words of the Chinese proverb, “A good neighbor is a priceless treasure.” 

We love you, Betty. 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
University of Valley Forge, Phoenixville, Pa. 
Responses can be mailed to president@valleyforge.edu 
Official page: Facebook.com/DrDonMeyer
Follow on Twitter: @DrDonMeyer
Archives at www.valleyforge.edu/thinkaboutit