Walking in their shoes: When bad things happen to good people
by Marguerite Cline, columnist
February 21, 2014 12:00 AM | 2769 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bad things do happen to good people. Although we do not understand it, we have seen it over and over. Two of the best people I know in our community lost their only child, Chris Moss, a few days ago.

Many of you know Billy and Ruth Moss. For years, Billy has been the owner and operator of Canton Shoe Shop. After a fire a few years ago that destroyed several buildings, he relocated the business to Main Street. He is still going strong repairing shoes after more than 50 years.

Ruth was a familiar face to thousands of high school students until her retirement from Cherokee High.

They have lived their lives doing the things good people do. They raised Chris to love God, treat others with respect and not to hesitate in doing what is right.

Chris grew up in a Christian home filled with love. Billy and Ruth set a good example for their son by the way they lived their own lives. They work hard and are friends and good neighbors to many.

Both attended elementary school in Talking Rock and sat in a double desk in the sixth grade. Years later they were married with an overnight honeymoon at Lookout Mountain. The twosome was back for Billy to go to work on Tuesday morning.

Most of us keep mementoes of our children’s early years. We may hang them on a bulletin board or put them on the refrigerator. They are treasured.

Billy and Ruth saved those things, too. While they valued Chris’ certificates of achievements, etc, during his school years, they also saved something else that is very special to them. It is his shoes. Ruth has kept all of his shoes from when he was a child.

There was a time when teachers were expected to give unruly or disrespectful kids or those who did not do their school work or homework a paddling. That may have been a lick in their hand with a ruler, a swat on their bottom or a real spanking.

One of Chris’ elementary school teachers said there was one year when all of the students in her class — except one — got a lick in their hand, a swat on their bottom or a real spanking. That lone student was Chris Moss. He was quiet, mannerly and a good student.

His behavior, like his school work, was exemplary.

After Chris and his wife, Tonya, were married and their daughter, Brittany Moss Morgan, was born, Ruth collected Brittany’s shoes, too. Now Billy and Ruth have a great-grandchild, Payeton Marie Morgan. Most likely, Ruth will start a new shoe collection.

Always dependable, Chris worked for Cherokee County government as an IT specialist for 25 years. When any department needed help with their computers, Chris was quick to respond and never complained.

Shirley Morris worked in the office of the Probate Court. She found Chris to be honest and accommodating.

Shirley especially admired his patience. Always smiling, positive and with the patience of Job, he could work all day on an ornery computer until it was up and running or the glitches had been removed.

Like Shirley, then-Probate Court Judge Kipling McVay was appreciative of Chris, his expertise and the timely service he provided to their office for years. He never complained.

Shirley also described Chris as a country boy who liked to wear his overalls and work in his garden.

 Chris’ life ended too early. He was only 50 years old at the time of his death. His funeral service was held at Antioch Baptist Church in Pickens County, where he had been a member for 34 years.

 Antioch is a small, white church on a country road with the cemetery where he was laid to rest beside it. The church was filled with family, friends and flowers. A choir sang old hymns and gospel songs. The ministers preached from the Bible. Like the Moss family, those in the church seemed to be salt of the earth people.

Chris had been sick for several years. As time passed, the family knew the end was near. Even though they comfort themselves by saying, “He’s in a better place,” their hearts are breaking.

 Once again, a bad thing has happened to good people for Billy and Ruth Moss are two of the best people I know.

Marguerite Cline is former mayor of Waleska.

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