"There is a land of the living and a land of the
dead, and the bridge is love." - Thornton Wilder
By Bob Weaver 2011
Dr. Charles Albert "Mug" Stump was one of my heroes, as was his mother Gladys Weaver Stump, my aunt.
He came home to Calhoun, his ashes returned to the Bethlehem Cemetery to be buried beside his parents and hundreds of relatives and many people he knew from his growing up years in Grantsville.
He quietly passed away on Christmas Day, watching old classic America movies and listening to his favorite music.
Von Yoak, schoolmate from Calhoun High School in the early 1940s, spoke about Stump to his wife JoAnn, his son Mike and daughter Ann, all of Daytona, Florida.
He met and married JoAnn Campbell in Grantsville.
Ivy Von Yoak, who has sung at over 3,000 funerals, rendered "How Great Thou Art," and the ladies of the First Baptist Church prepared a meal and the family visited the Calhoun Historical Museum in Grantsville, family property Stump donated to the group.
Stump, not unlike thousands of Calhoun citizens who sprung from this humble sod, went on to made his mark in the bigger world.
I was reminded recently that, "Calhoun is a place that is known for leaving," an exodus that sped up after World War II at the end of the agricultural era. The county barely experienced the industrial revolution, except for enjoying the fruits of its achievements.
Calhoun historian Norma Knotts Shaffer says there are four kinds of people, those who never leave, those who move on and never look back, those who move on and always want to return, and a few who do come back.
Dr. Stump did come back after his stint in the US Navy and going to medical school, practicing medicine in Calhoun in the 1950s, but then moved to Florida where he had a successful practice as an obstetrician and surgeon. He died there on Christmas Day, 2011.
He treasured his Calhoun roots, clinging to memories of small town life and the challenges given him as the only medical doctor in the county for several years.
His career was inspired by a Calhoun physician Dr. Curtis Artz, who became one of the world's leading experts on the treatment of burns. Dr. Stump played softball with Artz and a number of Calhoun men, after being an achiever on the Calhoun High School football team.
A Florida medical journal writer said, "He was a champion of women's health ... having delivered thousands of babies ... He was the kind of physician who made you feel you were the only patient that day."
He once told me that every time a new baby arrived he was in awe of the miracle, saying that hundreds, if not thousands of things must fall in place in a timely manner to make it happen.
His kindness, professionalism and generosity extended far beyond his medical practice, having donated time to Project Hope, a medical ship that traveled to underdeveloped counties.
While visiting the Bethlehem cemetery and walking around the 1,200 graves, I always recall words and scenes from Thornton Wilder's great American play "Our Town."
"There is a land of the living and a land of the dead, and the bridge is love," Wilder wrote, reminding us that rural people think a lot about their families, the universe, the eternal.
They can see the starry sky, the milky way and beyond. They can see each other.
In the first edition of the Hur Herald we reminisced, "Urban people, so it seems, are forced to think more about themselves, living in faceless cities, geared to rapid transit lives. We don't hold that against them."
"People in rural communities hold their way of life close to their bosoms, like some people cling to diamonds and pearls."
"When most is said and done, what really matters is what life is about where we stand and live on the earth."
Wilder's characters in 1903 were untainted by the Great Wars, making it easier to portray the warmth, civility and truths of life in rural America, but many of those reclining in Bethlehem were not as fortunate.
While those reposing in Bethlehem are not as famous as some, they are important enough.
With love and acceptance, we welcomed Dr. Stump home.
See related story DR. CHARLES ALBERT STUMP 'OLD SCHOOL' PHYSICIAN - 1927-2011