MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (BNc) — Preacher J.B. Gaither’s youngest daughter has published a biography his life and work.
Sandra Gaither Pitchford wrote J.B. Gaither, His Place in Time, a 408-page book packed with photos, sermons and articles of this “old-timey” preacher, as he delighted in referring to himself.
Gleaned from Gaither’s personal diaries kept for 50 years, the book, released Nov., 2008, details the abundant life and service from 1901 to his death in 1980.
Sandra includes many anecdotes of her father, including this letter to the Jackson County Sentinel in Gainesboro, Tenn., written October 30, 1940:
“To my friends who have been anxiously concerned over recent rumors that I have been arrested as a German spy, I want to say there is no truth whatsoever to it. I am not German, have no German blood about me so far as I know, neither have I been arrested nor accused by any authority.
“The report may have started through ignorance, or it may have been purposely and maliciously told. The Savior was accused of being an agent of Satan. I’m sure that I am no better than the Savior, and I guess Hitler is not much worse than the Devil.
“I appreciate the interest and concern of my many friends manifested by letters, telephone calls, and other inquiries.
“I continue to stand 100% for all principles of our democracy and for all the word of God which is God’s power to save the souls of men.
Gaither preached the gospel for 54 years. He conducted 542 gospel meetings, in an era when meetings lasted from 10 days to two weeks.
Much of his work was with rural churches across the state of Tennessee.
As one of eight children reared on a farm, Gaither wasted no opportunity to provide for his own family of five children and his wife’s parents who lived with them. The family knew of no time he brought home “road-kill,” but many times their meal consisted of “road-steal,” Sandra writes.
In his car trunk, Gaither kept a gunny sack called the “possum sack.” He was good at head-lighting the critters and sacking them alive. It was a tasty meal to the children as long as they thought it was roast beef. He didn’t lie to them; they just never thought to question it. After the meal was over, Gaither would scoot his chair back a little to relax and say, “That’s the best possum yet!” That’s when the kids would croak.
Possums were not just an economic issue because of the large family he had to feed. In the late 1970s, when Gaither earned a good salary and drew a social security check, one of the elders where he preached at Liberty in Fayetteville, Tenn., brought him a possum. His wife Mary cooked it for him and, as usual, he proclaimed its goodness.
Gaither took great pride in his church bulletins and had them bound at the end of each year. Many of these are still in the church libraries where he preached.
He often used poetry and stories with spiritual application. He had a knack for creating ways to catch the interest of the reader and make a point.
The book is available for $20 in paperback or $30 in hardback. For more information, email Sandra Gaither Pitchford at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 870-425-8554.