Around December 1984, the Air Force sent me to Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama for a week of reserve duty. I brought my wife and children with me, as they had never been to Alabama.
One night that week, we attended a community Christmas carol fest in Crampton Bowl. Emory Folmar, the Mayor of Montgomery, opened the songfest with a personal greeting and an unabashed proclamation of his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I was amazed! What mayor up where I come from would dare to do that?
Little did I imagine then that, one day in the future, my family and I would move to Montgomery, and that courageous Christian mayor would become my mentor and my friend.
Mayor Folmar died last Friday (http://blog NULL.al NULL.com/montgomery/2011/11/former_montgomery_mayor_rememb NULL.html) after a long illness at the age of 81. Former Governor Bob Riley gave a eulogy at his funeral (http://www NULL.montgomeryadvertiser NULL.com/article/20111115/NEWS01/111150314/Service-honors-former-Montgomery-mayor?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Frontpage|p), and said, “It was appropriate that he passed away on 11/11/11, because it will be another hundred years before that happens again and it will be another 100 years before we meet another Emory Folmar.”
It was indeed fitting that this old warrior should pass away on Veterans Day. A much-decorated Marine captain in Korea, he saw men fall to the right of him and to the left of him, and, as he said later, he pressed on, trusting in the sovereignty of God.
He brought the warrior ethic into civilian life, as a relentless opponent of corruption, liberalism, and everything he believed to be wrong. He served as mayor from 1977-1999, a longer continuous term than any other mayor in Montgomery history, and he was always pro-America, pro-Alabama, pro-Montgomery, pro-business, and pro-military. He was loved by many, feared by some, but even his staunchest opponents recognized that he always kept his word and did what he said he would do.
He was a tireless warrior, but he was more than that. As Anita, his devoted wife of 59 years, said, he was also a Nehemiah, a builder. By fostering a pro-business climate, he laid the groundwork for building Montgomery into a beautiful modern city. By forging ties between Montgomery and Maxwell AFB he made sure military personnel felt at home in Montgomery, and the civilian and military communities have both been blessed by this continuing relationship. As Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, he was instrumental in transforming Alabama from a one-party Democratic state into the mostly Republican state it is today.
But I knew him primarily at Trinity Presbyterian Church (http://www NULL.trinitypca NULL.org/), to which he belonged for 53 years (http://www NULL.myfoxal NULL.com/story/16029189/trinity-presbyterian-church-remembers-mayor-folmar)and served 47 years as an elder. He was instrumental in the establishment of the conservative evangelical Presbyterian Church in America (http://www NULL.pcanet NULL.org/) (PCA) and helped to draft a children’s Scripture memorization program that is still used in PCA churches today.
His men’s Sunday school class was probably the best I’ve ever attended. Week after week he would dig through the Scriptures and force us to do the same. Clearly, for Emory Folmar, the Word of God was (and is) alive and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. His enthusiasm for Christ and His Word was contagious.
As Pastor Claude McRoberts said at the funeral, Emory Folmar has now been promoted from the Church Militant here on earth, to the Church Triumphant in heaven. I miss him, but I know I will see him again.
One more thing: If I were holding out in a foxhole and the Communists or the Islamists were charging over the top, and I could have one person by my side, I would want that person to be Emory Folmar.
Until the Resurrection, my fellow-soldier and friend, rest in peace.