OPINION

Lives of faith and generous service

The Examiner

Patrick Mahomes was born in Tyler, Texas in September 1995. He went to high school in Whitehouse, which is about 10 miles southeast of Tyler. He spent his formative years in east Texas until he left to attend college at Texas Tech in Lubbock before he thrilled the fans of Kansas City and the nation when he was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs. His mother, Randi, was also born in Tyler.

Bob Buckley

I also have ties to Tyler, Texas, although I have never been there. My great aunt lived in Tyler until her death in 1996, one month before her 101st birthday. Her name was Gertrude Buckley Windsor. She was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas in 1895 and had one brother, my grandfather, Charles. I was named after my grandfather. Gertrude’s father was a prominent lawyer in Fort Smith and according to my research died in 1912. Gertrude was barely 17 years old when she lost her father.

My paternal great grandmother was from Boonville, Missouri. My great-grandfather attended William Jewell College, so I suspect he might have met her there although I have no firm knowledge of that. Aunt Gertrude maintained her ties to Boonville in later years. Gertrude is buried in Boonville next to her husband.

Gertrude attended Stephens College in Columbia. After her father died, her mother moved to Boonville with her two children. Her older brother was a student at Mizzou during the same time. My grandmother also attended Stephens College and was Gertrude’s roommate; that explains how she met my grandfather.

Gertrude’s husband, Wilbur Windsor was born in Boonville and graduated from Mizzou in 1913. I assume he met my aunt in college or in Boonville. Wilbur was industrious and made his wealth in oil development and farming. The family business, WC Windsor Worldwide, still exists today.

We never spent much time with Gertrude because she was in Texas. The last time I saw her was at a wedding of one of her grandsons that my brother and I attended in Boonville in the early 1980s.

I always knew that Gertrude was generous as she sent me and my seven siblings a check every Christmas. I learned much more about her generosity after her death. She was quite the philanthropist in Tyler. She had a heart for homeless people and began by feeding them at her back door.

When she was 90 years old she began dreaming about a program to help more of the disadvantaged throughout the community to reach those further beyond her back door. She began by collaborating with church and civil leaders to create an organization that would be a safe place for people in need of assistance.

In 1985, an organization named PATH – People Attempting to Help – was formed. Today it is supported by 87 congregations in Smith County and the last report I saw was that they had helped over 22,000 people in one year. Each year, an award is given to the most active volunteer who epitomizes the mission of PATH through both words and deeds. It is called the Gertrude Windsor Award.

Statistics show that every three and a half minutes one of our neighbors walks through PATH’s doors needing assistance. Each individual or family that turns to PATH for assistance is assigned a caseworker. Caseworkers help to determine their specific needs and provide long-term guidance and support to meet those needs. The end goal of this guidance and support is to establish self-sufficiency and enhance the quality of life for the family or individuals. Caseworkers are able to assess and address issues that include living situations, financial trouble, physical and emotional health, addiction, parent/child resources, education, employment, and more.

PATH offers a transitional housing program designed to help low- to moderate-income families provide safe and affordable housing. At the same time, individuals participate in programs that lead to self-sufficiency. The housing program is designed to help families move into home ownership in 18-24 months.

Their basic medical care offers dental appointments, eye exams, glasses, and help to afford prescriptions. About 140 people come through the food pantry every day.

To think that this all began with distribution of food out the back door of my great aunt’s house. Yet, this is not all she has done. There is a garden club in Tyler that bears her name that she started in 1950. In 1949, she organized a garden club at Goree State Prison Farm for Women at Huntsville to teach inmates job skills in horticulture and floral design. 

She has not forgotten Stephens College either. In 1975, she and another graduate donated the funds to renovate the Senior Hall. The auditorium on campus is called Windsor Auditorium. There is also a street in Columbia named Windsor near the campus.

I would like to think that God gave her 101 years as He had much for her to do. As I reflect on Aunt Gertrude’s achievements, I also marvel at the philanthropic efforts of a more notable product of Tyler, Texas, Patrick Mahomes. He does so many things that people never see or hear about. He is not out there looking for photo opportunities for his good works. It appears that his guiding light is his faith, which was surely the source of my great aunt’s inspiration. Since he was only 1 year old when my great aunt died, Mahomes never met her. He and his mother have probably heard of PATH.

The disciple John tells us in the book of the Bible that bears his name that Nathaniel asked Phillip: Can anything good come out of Nazareth, to which Phillip responded “come and see.” Can anything good come out of Tyler, Texas? My Aunt Gertrude and Patrick Mahomes have not told us. They have shown us.        

Bob Buckley is an attorney in Independence. Email him at bbuckley@wagblaw.com.