Thank You for Being a Friend
I escorted the reporter representing one of South Carolina’s largest newspapers into the living
room of Robertson McQuilkin. As CIU’s communications manager, one of my jobs is media
relations. The Rev. Billy Graham, now in his 90s, was ill, and some wondered if these were his
last days. Consequently, news reporters wanted to talk to those who had rubbed shoulders with
the famous evangelist. Robertson was one of them.
As we sat down for the interview, the reporter asked Robertson how he was doing. He
responded, “Well, I was doing fine until I read your newspaper this morning.”
(Insert awkward silence in the room here.)
With a wry smile, Robertson went on to lament
an editorial in the newspaper that morning
written by a local Unitarian cleric questioning
the virgin birth and authority of the Scripture.
The reporter, a veteran of the religion beat,
understood Robertson’s biblical view of things,
offered a broad smile, and her questions turned
to Robertson’s memories of Graham. After the
interview, as the reporter and I walked out the
backyard gate of the McQuilkin home, she told
me how much she enjoyed the conversation.
I suggested a possible future article about
the many other aspects of Robertson’s life.
Unfortunately, that opportunity never came.
While my relationship with Robertson over our 24-year acquaintance was mostly professional,
there was a moment when it became pastoral. I was news director at then CIU-owned WMHK
Radio in the early 2000s and struggling with some managerial decisions that were being made.
One day Robertson, then CIU president emeritus, was at the station to record an interview
with me. Before we got started, he sat in the studio listening to me pour out my heart about
the decisions. He nodded, understood, and even agreed with my assessment of things. His
kindness was what I needed at that time, and I’ve never forgotten it.
Then there was the time I met his wife Muriel. I was at the McQuilkin home doing a radio
interview about his full-time care of Muriel, who by that time, was wheelchair bound from
the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s. I followed Robertson outside where she sat facing the
Japanese garden he had planted for her. And while Muriel was unresponsive to him, my tape
recorded picked up Robertson’s tender words as he asked her to smile for me. I reminded
myself that good journalists don’t cry.
In 2014, I got an unusual email with an attachment from Robertson. He asked me to edit his
obituary. In his humble way, he just wanted to make sure it was not too long.
Like many people, I miss him and his emails to me that would end with, “thank you, my friend.”
I’m thankful that I could call Robertson a friend, and an example of a godly life to me.
THE FIRST WORD
Letters to the
Spring Break in Detroit
I appreciated Erica Williamson’s
account of spring break in
– in the USA”),
“If I think that I am entitled to a
life that is catered to my wants
and needs, I will burn out when
ministry gets hard. ... If I only
befriend people that I naturally
like, I will selfishly neglect many
of the people that Jesus loves
and for whom He died.”
This 60-something needed to
read that. Thanks!
Letters to the Editor are
welcome. Correspondence must
include your name, address
and phone number. The editor
reserves the right to determine
the suitability of letters for
publication and to edit for
clarity and length. There is no
guarantee your letter will be
published, nor will letters be
returned. Write to:
CIU Today Editor
Columbia International University
7435 Monticello Road
Columbia, SC 29203
That’s me celebrating with Robertson on his
THE FIRST WORD