The legacy of a hugger: Scholarship memorializes longtime church memberPublished 10:43am Friday, August 30, 2013
When people think of Billie Goodew, they likely will remember the hugs.
From now on, though, they’ll remember the longtime Grace Lutheran Church member, who passed away in January, through a cause that will carry her name for years to come. It’s the Billie Goodew Memorial Scholarship Fund — started by Billie’s family to remember a woman with a heart of gold, and to help youngsters dedicated to education and faith.
“We just need to get the youth back in these churches,” said Ray Goodew, Billie’s husband. “This is one way we hope we can inspire them to get involved.”
The family thought up the idea not long ago, so this year’s scholarship is at about $500 and mostly funded by the family. Grace Lutheran is still accepting donations, payable to the Billie Goodew Memorial Scholarship Fund and tax deductible. Two students are already set to receive this year’s award. In the future, a five-person board will select confirmed Grace Lutheran students who show initiative within the church and have college aspirations.
Of course, any church could simply have a scholarship fund, but Billie’s name attached to it is symbolic. Years from now, recipients of the scholarship will wonder about that name. They’d do well to follow in her shoes. Decades ago, Billie was a Sunday school teacher at Grace. Until she died on Jan. 27, she and Ray served in-home communion to shut-ins. The first Sunday service at Grace is still known as the hugging service, as Billie hugged everybody she greeted. People joke about it. They say Billie was probably the only person to hug the Lord before he got a chance to hug her.
“She was one of those people who if you didn’t know her, she wouldn’t let go until you did,” Ray said.
Katie Bambrick, the Goodews’ granddaughter, is following in those footsteps, as she gave a big hug earlier this week. She, too, is deeply involved in the church.
“Grandma was so involved here that I feel close to her when I am here involved with this stuff,” she said.
Bambrick now takes Billie’s place alongside Ray during in-home communions. She saw grandma do it, and she was inspired.
“I’ve seen grandma and grandpa do it for years and how much it meant,” Bambrick said.
The scholarship, she said, is a great way to honor Billie. Billie always told Bambrick how important faith and education is. Her name will be fitting on the check.
“I think the scholarship is a great way to keep grandma’s name going,” Bambrick said. “She was a great lady and a longtime member of the church.”
This year’s scholarship recipients will receive their checks on Sept. 8. They should expect a hug, given vicariously through Bambrick.