While sitting inside the chapel listening to the ministers I couldn’t help but think about the brevity of life and the certainty of death.
For many days and nights and for many years, the Rev. Leon Pettit served me well as a spiritual leader, counselor, pastor, and friend. His wife, Loretta, provided me as much love and guidance as did Leon when you get right down to it.
For many years Leon and Loretta owned and operated Cherokee Taxidermy in the Keithsburg community. Many times, young men like Mike Mullinax, Doug Godfrey and I would stop by to talk with Leon about our state of spirituality.
Leon would simply keep on mounting the game and listen as we talked. After closely listening, he would offer an opinion.
If he didn’t feel like he had the answer, he would simply suggest we pray. So right there in the basement of the taxidermy shop, we would drop to our knees and ask for God’s guidance. Although there was work to be done, Leon never let that get in the way of praying when it was needed.
I can’t say I have ever met another business owner who would do the same.
Of course we didn’t leave Leon and Loretta alone when they got off work. I have spent many hours in their home talking about the Bible and the miracles of God.
God was always the centerpiece of the Pettit home. I can’t remember a time when I ever went to sit and visit that Leon wasn’t sitting there reading his Bible.
And Loretta was no slacker when it came to Bible knowledge. For the Bible is where they found the answers to living.
It’s hard to imagine that they didn’t get tired of me and the others just popping in, which was often. But if they did, we never knew it.
It didn’t matter to Leon if it was at church, home or office; when the spirit of the Lord filled his heart he let it out. Tears of joy would flow from his eyes as he would talk about the glories of God.
There is a verse in the Bible that Leon cherished and I heard him speak of it many times. It is in 2 Kings 2:9 and reads as follows: And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?” Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.”
Because of the life he lived, Leon was blessed many times to receive that double portion of the Holy Spirit. When he did, he would shout to the heavens and it was a beautiful sight to behold.
There is no doubt in my mind that Loretta and their children, Tabra and Dirk, are feeling a loss on this night as I sit here and write this.
For Leon didn’t just take care of us stragglers who came in, he took care of his family. And he will be missed by many people, but none as much as his immediate family.
Leon answered God’s call many years ago and never wavered from the journey. He pastored several churches and preached many sermons.
He baptized many folks along his journey and led many to the Lord through his service.
I didn’t get to tell Leon all of things I am telling you. I didn’t get to tell him because I never made the effort. And I will live with that.
But just maybe you still have the opportunity to tell someone that did for you the things Leon did for me before it’s too late. Take that time before you find yourself saying “if I would have only taken the time,” like I am saying now.
Before moving to Ellijay, Leon and Loretta Pettit were the centerpiece of the Keithsburg community. And when they moved, the community felt it.
My life has never been what it should be. But I know God hears prayers.
And it is my prayer right now that Loretta, Tabra, and Dirk will all receive a double portion of the Holy Spirit that Leon loved so much.
Our loss is Heaven’s gain. Amen.
Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.