David R. Currie
A Rancher's Rumblings
February 12, 2007


I write this on February 11, 2007, exactly a year after Phil Strickland died. Earlier this evening, I read again the eulogy I gave at Phil’s funeral, which is on our Web site at www.txbc.org. I cried, I cried a lot. That’s just the way it is.

I concluded my eulogy by quoting lyrics from The Eagles, my favorite singing group.

There’s a hole in the world tonight.
There’s a Cloud of fear and sorrow.
There’s a hole in the world tonight.
Don’t let there be a hole in the world tomorrow.

Phil’s death left a huge hole in many places.

The Texas Legislature will miss him badly this session, as he was more than someone who lobbied to fight gambling or to help children; he was a minister to these people, regardless of race, creed, or color. He invested time and love in their personal lives like no one ever before. For many, he was a friend they could talk to in the darkest of times, when the pressure was the heaviest or when they questioned their own ethics and values. Suzii Paynter will do great as director of the Texas CLC. My son, Lance, is working in the legislature. I will encourage him to go meet legislators, reminding them of how close he and Phil were to each other. Lance and Suzii will build their own ministries but Phil had nearly forty years of relationships with many and that can not be replaced easily.

The Baptist General Convention of Texas has a huge hole without Phil. Phil was the ultimate “crisis” manager. Goodness, do we miss him now! Valleygate, or whatever you want to call it, has stunned us all. We are trusting, believing people who are truly focused on spreading the Gospel. I am certain that Charles Wade’s highest priority is partnering with Christ by living out the ethics of Christ. But Charles misses Phil badly right now, as we all do, because Phil would have offered the best advice of anyone on how to deal with this situation in an ethical way and in the way that would best help the BGCT and the churches.

I am sure that the loss of Phil has left a huge hole in the hearts and lives of Phil’s family because a husband, father, grandfather and son like Phil can never be replaced. Yet, my heart knows that they are doing well, because—by loving them so well—Phil taught them about dying. I think that sentence has some profound truth in it, but I’m in no emotional shape to know for sure.


I think that what I’m trying to say is that, when we understand the Gospel and have experienced love, we deal with death better, because we somehow understand that death is an extension of life and, ultimately, love—and the experience of ultimate love.

But the hole remains for us all.

I have really struggled to fill the hole in my own heart and life. I want to publicly thank Ken Hall and Ron Cook for being there for me, to read my thoughts before I publish them (and now Bill Jones, for editing me), and letting me bounce ideas off of them like I used to do with Phil.

I want to thank Loretta, my wife, for lovingly dealing with my emotions and struggles this past year.

And Phil loved me and taught me and prepared me for his passing. I remember playing golf with him in Dallas many years ago and discussing his cancer. He said, “we know this is going to get me sooner or later.” I replied, “well, let’s keep making it later.” And he did for many years.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I miss him every single day. This hunting season, I killed two bucks: an 8-pt. with my Dad’s .300 Savage, open sights; and a spike with Granddad Patton’s .30 Remington (1906), also open sights. I’m sure that it is the first deer killed with that gun in over 50 years. I missed sharing it with Phil, so I called Carolyn Strickland, Suzii Paynter, Charlie McLaughlin, and my sons Lance and Chad to tell them about the deer. But in my mind, I missed Phil’s laugh and congratulations when I told him. I can hear him clearly—just like he would have done it and said it.


I miss calling him for his advice on how long TBC should continue to endorse candidates. I miss asking his advice on everything I do as leader of TBC.

I miss his influence on people so critical through blogs these days because Phil was so respected, he would have helped soften the way some things are being said by critics of the BGCT and TBC.

I miss having him in the Baptist Building, because his being there made TBC much more effective; he could explain, inside the building, what TBC is doing and calm anyone who might be concerned about our activities.

I’ll admit that I have had a lot of days in the last year that I have wished I were old enough and financially able to retire. It has been a difficult year. It is simply not the same and never will be.

But then I hear Phil “gently jumping” all over me for such thoughts and reminding me that I have to help fill the hole; and gently telling me that, if I withdraw and quit now, I’ve let him down, as well as all of the TBC supporters.

OK then, but all I can say is that the hole is a lot bigger than anything I can do. But it’s not bigger than all of us can do if we work together, quit trying to tear each other apart, and focus on things that we agree on rather than things that divide us.

And I will make a promise to our TBC supporters: I have mourned for a year, and I will not ever stop missing Phil, but I will re-engage in a more positive and proactive way in the coming year. There are too many, too many holes to be filled, and we all need to be filling them.