Farewell to Thomas M. Stearns, My Friend For Life\nBy Richard (“Kox”) Stevens\n \nIn 1967, the chances of meeting a potential lifelong friend who was attending a distant elementary school were slim. Yet, Tom reached out to me from a quarter mile away, by walkie talkie, out of the blue when I was using my CB radio. Self-assured, well spoken, confident, this young voice over the air persuaded me to meet in person – and we did. He and a brother and friend on bikes -- I stood outside on my driveway. This was before either of our voices had changed … and we would be friends for life, starting that day.\nWe were not together everyday or anything like that. It was more spiritual than that. Tom affected me, he had my back, he encouraged me, at unique life-changing times. And my mom, Marjorie, and I, returned the love when the situations arose. I visited him in the hospital after his early surgery, and my Marjorie took him into our home for a couple weeks, and even counseled Tom’s parents, to help Tom in his relationship with his Dad, Leonard.\nTom nonstop encouraged me to get my first ham radio license – his dad administered the Novice class test. He then urged me to study the Morse Code to 13 words per minute to get my General class ham license – he got the practice gear together and sat me in his bedroom to practice for an hour after school, day after day!\nBeyond radio – Tom and I rode bikes all over San Pedro, going here and there on adventures. And Tom let me ride the most powerful Kawasaki motorcycle ever, when I was 14! He also set an example for finding wonderful women for guys like him and me.\nTom had an agile mind and great way of speaking. He could spot idiocy a mile away, and he’d point it out. Yet Tom had an enthusiasm for life, so that he never brought me down. Sad and moping weren’t his style.\nOne day, we were both 13, we saw two little kids’ plastic riding cars, selling for $2 apiece at a garage sale. He had the idea to buy them, and I knew where we could ride them. We bought the two little kiddie cars, and took them to a safe paved hill with no traffic anywhere, with a long grade and a wide curve. And we rode those little cars for hours, speeding down the hill as fast as we could, the plastic rubber wheels slipping and sliding in the turns! Just good ole, plain, awesome fun, ending only when the plastic wheels disintegrated.\nTom sought the best for his friends. He earnestly wanted to upshift my mental outlook on life, and pressed me to read Ayn Rand’s book, The Fountainhead. I took his advice – and it literally ended up changing the whole course of my life.\nOn my wedding day in 1979, while others were filing into the church and running around doing stuff, Tom was the one person with me in the back room. He was like the “lead horse” who walks with the racehorse at the track. He was so gentle, supportive, making sure I was okay. He even asked me, very kindly, whether I was ready to get married, whether this was the right thing to do. He genuinely wanted to be sure I’d be happy in this new union. And I was.\nWe did not live near each other, so we weren’t always in close touch. But Tom was one of those friends, you know, where you haven’t seen them in years but you pick up right exactly where you left off, then explore all the new things life brought each of us in the meantime. It was fascinating though – how often we had both independently read the same books or thought about the same things, as though we were synchronized all the time. The examples seem endless. For just one example: We both discovered and greatly enjoyed Jethro Tull, only much later finding out we shared that musical interest.\nTom came from a family of atheists, they were merciless against religion, and I was influenced to be an atheist, or at least agnostic. But over time – again totally independently – I came to understand Christianity and trust Jesus Christ as the great leader and also the Savior of those who trust him – and I understand that Tom came along similar lines to a saving faith in Christ. There isn’t anything more important – and it brings tears to my eyes knowing that Tom this very moment is standing by on the Eternal frequency where one of these days I, too, will tune in.\nAs the Bible promises:\n“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, when the last trumpet sounds, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed forever.”\n(1 Corinthians 15:52)\n \nSee you, then, Tom. Oh, and have the Pizza and Dr. Pepper waiting!