Special to the Daily Journal

I once knew a man, a very special man. He was a man who loved people and was loved by people. He loved to sing and praise God with song. He shared his love for the Lord with everyone through his music.

When he was a small boy, he loved to ride horses, climb trees, and terrorize his sisters all the normal things little boys do. He once wept tears for the death of a favorite horse. He once tried to feed a bug to his baby brother. He even convinced his little sister to let him cut her finger, so they could be blood brothers.

As he grew to be a teen-ager, his life would change. He would be diagnosed with diabetes and would have to change his lifestyle. He would fight a hard battle but the disease would win the war.

This man would marry and have children. However, his life would be far from normal. He would lose sight in one eye very early in his life. In his early 30s he would undergo bypass surgery and later another surgery to a heart that was very tired and weak. In later years, he would be put on dialysis, for his kidneys would fail him.

However, this man had found something that would never fail him, he had found faith in a living God. This faith would guide him every day and give him strength to get through the painful years ahead of him. But more than anything, this faith would give him a special love for his fellow man. It would give him the desire to see souls saved and lives changed.

He was not a perfect man, just forgiven. And in that forgiveness he found grace to forgive others. He lived his life without complaint and never gave up hope. However, his hope was not so much in the things of this world but in a Savior who would never fail him.

Some would ask why God would let this man suffer so much. I don’t have an answer to that question, but I am reminded of how God suffered as He watched His only son die on a lonely cross. And like Christ, because of this gentle man’s life many hearts and lives were touched and will never be the same.

This man died on March 5, 1996. Hundreds of people, some of them grown men, walked down the aisle of the church with tears streaming down their faces and acknowledged they had lost their best friend. Over and over these friends spoke of a Godly man, a man who, though often sick and in pain, always said “I’m fine” when asked how he was doing. And he was fine, because he knew that no matter what happened here on earth to him, he had a home in Heaven where there would be no more pain and he could see for miles and miles and sing in choirs of angels.

I once knew a man, he was my big brother, Roy Dean Conlee. Not because of my brother’s death, but because of his life, my family is closer to God and one another. We have a new appreciation for each other and for life. Each day of my brother’s life was dedicated to his family and friends. While we will miss him terribly, there is comfort in knowing I will see him again one day and that many people were blessed by having known him.

Donita Martin, a resident of Verona, is an executive secretary at Thomas Lighting in Tupelo. Her brother, Roy Dean Conlee was 43 years old when he died. He was a lifelong resident of Pontotoc County and an active member of Harmony Baptist Church.

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