On September 11, 2015 at 9:11 A.M., my brother, Virgil Earl Glisson, Jr. (Earl), died at the age of 71, after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Earl was born in Statesboro, Georgia on a cold winter day in January, 1944. Earl was born at home and I remember Mama and Daddy always telling us that the doctor brought him to the house in his big ole black bag. I believed that story for many years until I became old enough to know the facts of life. It seems so silly now but I always pictured the doctor walking up to the house with that big ole black bag with a crying baby in it. I also remember being told that one of us was found in a cabbage patch under a head of cabbage. I don’t remember which one, but it seemed that there was always a story to be told when you started talking about children being born. I think Gloria was the one found in the cabbage patch. I think I was just quite simply, dropped from heaven. I think these were common tales told to all children in my generation because even the adults discussed these things in whispered tones.
One year has passed since my brother’s death and this post is in his memory.
The following is my brother’s obituary.
“Earl grew up on a farm in Statesboro, Georgia and his family moved to Jacksonville when he was 12. The farm in Georgia is where he learned the meaning of hard work and this work ethic followed him in every venture he undertook. Of his many accomplishments, Earl was a gifted mechanic, a dedicated business entrepreneur owning several businesses throughout his life, a Constable and police officer in the Jacksonville area until finding his place in the commercial refrigeration industry. Earl spent a large part of his career as a manager, executive and eventually a board member for The Stellar Group. Earl was a founding member of The Stellar Group which was founded on July 1, 1985. Earl was Senior Vice President of Parts and Service. It was through his leadership of the Parts and Service Division that provided the cash flow necessary to sustain a start-up business for the first year of its evolution to the second largest Design Build firm in the State of Florida with 20 offices worldwide. In 1987, he became a Licensed Mechanical Contractor for the State of Florida. Earl retired after 25 years of service to The Stellar Group. Turns out Earl “semi” retired as he would then take an ownership and leadership role at Tri-Star Semi Truck and Trailer Services, LLC and lead it from a single truck operation to become one of North Florida’s leading service companies in the transportation and logistics fields. Earl was passionate about giving back to the community. He was a regular supporter and sponsor of the Mandarin Sports Association. He loved Corvettes and was a member of the North Florida Corvette Association. He was a proud member of the NRA as well as the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Association. A lifelong Republican, he enjoyed politics on both a local and national level. His passion for life extended even further to his love of his family. He was a loving and giving father, husband, brother and friend to all he met. His other favorite pastimes included vacationing at his river property in Nahunta, Georgia, relaxing at his home on the Julington Creek River, fishing, and spending time with family and, of course, was a Florida Gator for life. Earl never met a stranger along his journey through life. Earl was generous and compassionate with his time and knowledge. He was the family member or friend you could depend on any time, day or night. He always gave you his undivided attention as long as needed as if he had all the time in the world. The word no was not in Earl’s vocabulary and he helped others without expecting anything in return. He stood up for what he believed in. AndHe was a man of timeless grace and honor and will be missed by all.
While Earl’s accomplishments were extensive and eventful, nothing among those took precedence over the love and loyalty he felt for his family and friends. His parents, Ruby Marie Glisson and Virgil Earl Glisson, Sr. preceded him in death. He was also preceded in death by his oldest son, Allen Clinton (Clint) Hubert Johnson (Jerrie). He is survived by his loving partner, Rachel C. Glisson; his children, Donald (Donnie) Ray Glisson (Mary), Clayton (Clay) DeDouglas Glisson (Lindsey), Rachelle (Chelle) Glisson, and Virgil Earl Glisson, III (E3). He is also survived by grandchildren, Zachary Tyler Dinkins, Colby Bienick, Rachel Bienick, Angel Fuentes, Gabrielle Glisson, Ben Johnson, Jessica (Dustin) Williams, and great grandchildren, Whitley and Paisley Williams. He is also survived by 3 brothers, Joe Glisson (Linda), Stevie Glisson (Darlene), Tommy Glisson (Kerry) and 4 sisters, Gloria Burchfield (Carl), Janie Conrad (Jim), Judy Kirkland (Sam) and Luann Altendorf (Chuck); special friends, Bobby Cothern, Ron Foster, Sr., Danny Bazemore and Alma Fitchett, and many nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins, who all loved him dearly.”
His funeral was preached by our Associate Pastor, Reverend Josh Reavis of North Jacksonville Baptist Church and the music was performed by Brother Tim Rigdon, Music Director at North Jacksonville Baptist Church, accompanied by Susie Coram on the piano. Brother Tim sang Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art. The service and music were very touching.
I wrote his eulogy and was suppose to deliver it at the funeral service. Unfortunately, the day after my brother died, I became extremely ill and was hospitalized for 8 days, 4 of which were in ICU. So, I was unable to attend his calling hours or attend his funeral and give his eulogy. My loving husband, Jim, stepped in and did a fantastic job.
This is the eulogy which was so eloquently given by my husband.
“I would like to thank you all for coming today to celebrate the life of my brother, Earl Glisson. Earl had been very ill for many months and surpassed the amount of time the doctors had given him. God blessed Earl with one of the greatest gifts he could ever bestow upon someone, and that is the gift of time. He had time to reaffirm his salvation; make amends with family; tie up any loose ends he might have and to get his earthly affairs in order. Earl and I had a number of conversations before he left us. I was able to tell Earl how much I loved him and how much it meant to me to have him for a brother. We talked about death, the life he had led and how sorry he was that his time had come because he felt that there was still so much that he could do and wanted to do. He really loved life and living and most of all his family. As he always said, he did it his way; but his way was never any way but the right way. He was a man of honor and integrity. But, he realized that his time was short and so he made peace with it, knowing that in the end he would be in a better place and that he would be reunited with his mother, father and son and many others in the family who had gone before. He wants everyone to celebrate his life, remember him with love and fondness and he wants everyone to be joyful. He meant many things to many people and I know that I speak for the entire family in saying his presence here with us shall be forever missed.
I would like to read something to you that I think sums up what Earl would say to each of you if he were still here.
“Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened; everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference in your tone. Wear no solemn air of sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant; it is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner.
Day is done, night is come, and all is well with my soul. AMEN.”
My brother’s life can be summed up in the following scripture:
2 Timothy, Chapter 4, Verse 7:
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.
Earl Glisson did all of this with grace, dignity and courage. Godspeed Earl, until we meet again. I love you and will miss you greatly.”
Since watching the funeral, which was recorded digitally, I still cannot believe that he is gone and I have not come to terms with it and have not yet reached the point of acceptance. Hopefully, I pray that day will come soon.