In talking with others, I have found it hard getting people to understand that a man 90 years old can die unexpectedly. On th night of February 7th, Brother Gene Winfrey did. Although he was not without health issues, he still was so active taking care of his dear wife Wana, as well as continuing his full-time efforts of ministry and managing the Winfrey Evangelistic Association (WEA). Wana continues to morn his death of her husband of over 70 years, but in the full-time care of her family.
For those of you unable to attend Bro. Gene’s funeral, it was a beautiful event. The ceremony was held at Cornith Baptist Church in Loganville, GA. In addition to myself Drs. Don Richards, Brad Davis, Preston Moore, and Tolbert Moore also were invited to speak, and they did so very eloquently. Many were in attendance, as you might imagine. In all 51 pastors were counted. Johnny and Judy Foster also delivered a personal message followed by special music presentation. Mrs. Sandy Payton and Mrs. Linda Johnson provided their singing talents, too. The entire ceremony was deeply personal for so many. The Winfrey family greatly appreciated all of the love and support they received from everyone that made the effort to attend the visitation times over the weekend in addition to those at the funeral.
I would like to share with you an excerpt from my remarks that day:
“…More important now is moving his work forward…The last several years of his life, Bro. Gene spent in his work in the organization he founded: the Winfrey Evangelistic Association. I promised him some years ago that when he could no longer carry on the work that I would. He took me up on it and, not that he needed to, he frequently reminded me of our arrangement. I look forward to continuing the support of the missionaries that he cared so much about, and who work so fervently around the world. From church planters and Bible Colleges to orphanages and abortion alternatives – there are many, and they all are noble and selfless. If you or your organization received Bro. Gene’s support via the WEA, know that it will continue so long as those who contribute are willing and able to do so. If you are a contributor, I and those mentioned thank you. Bro. Gene thanks you. I hope that we can continue in partnership to support those people and causes our friend felt worthy…”
It is my hope and prayer that you will help me make good on my promise. Donations can now be sent to 298 Cottonwood Bend, Cleveland, TN 37312. With your help, the WEA will continue as a nonprofit organization, devoid of any salaried employees or personal stipends, run purely with volunteer efforts. Bro. Gene’s last newsletter was completed the night of his death and included a summary of the missionaries he supported. Checks are sent out monthly to all of these and more as needs arise. Feel free to contact our missionary family and learn more about them. They are working the front lines for Jesus, in a way that many of us cannot. Contributing to the WEA is how we can take part in their work. In doing so, we honor the memory of Bro. Gene as well.
My wife Sarah and I look forward to meeting each of you at some point. We live in Cleveland, TN with our two daughters, Ellie and Josie. Our home is open to you and we would love to see you if you ever come this way. I hope you also will feel free to contact me with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 423-243-3514.
G. Seth Ford, M.D.