Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Donald Tinney, A Man Of Kindness, remembered on the anniversary of his birth

Photo via Julie Tinney, Donald's daughter.

Click on any image to view it in larger format.

Donald Tinney, A Man Of Kindness

LIFE, as lived by DONALD TINNEY, was a constant CELEBRATION.

He celebrated the GIFT of LIFE in all the manifestations GOD offers us.

A particular FAVORITE celebration of Donald’s was LIFE in the great OUTDOORS, especially farming, FISHING and camping with his FAMILY.

Donald loved HUNTING GRAPES, an annual OUTDOOR ADVENTURE which is now largely FORGOTTEN by modern society.

During the 1940s, HUNTING GRAPES was an AUTUMN TRADITION for many of us who lived at Tinney Chapel, then as much a well-defined farming COMMUNITY as it was a church founded by Ambrose Tinney, Donald’s GRANDFATHER.

The first BICYCLE that my brother Tommy & I ever owned was a HAND-ME-DOWN from our OLDER Cousin Donald, who lived just down the road with his parents, our UNCLE ED & AUNT VALLIE TINNEY.

Donald’s WILLINGNESS to FOLLOW the EXEMPLARY life lessons then modeled by his PARENTS quickly caused OUR folks, and lots of OTHERS, to lift up DONALD as the ROLE MODEL for boys in our COMMUNITY to follow.

DONALD has always been a TOUGH ACT to follow!

Take, for instance, Donald’s long journey from reading scripture in Tinney Chapel to reading Lady Liberty’s inscription in New York harbor.

That incredible journey took about 18 months for Donald, who strengthened the U.S. Army during a time of true grit: World War II.

His journey started on a Sunday in May, 1945, when Uncle Ed called Donald to the front of the Tinney Chapel sanctuary.

It was the most highly charged emotional moment between a father and son that many of us had ever experienced at Tinney Chapel.

“This may be the last Sunday School or church service that Donald will ever attend here.”

Uncle Ed’s voice was characteristically soft, and on the verge of breaking.

Then came Uncle Ed’s tears, unashamed.

Germany had already surrendered, but conventional wisdom of 1945 suggested that Japan would instead defend its shores to the last man.

That’s exactly what Donald thought during his 17 weeks of Infantry basic training at Camp Hood, Texas, where the emphasis was on hand-to-hand combat.

During that U.S. Infantry training, he once recalled being issued a pocket-sized Bible.

Thankfully, Donald never experienced actual combat, because of another soldier named Paul Tibbets, who piloted a bomber called Enola Gay, from which the mushroom clouds of atomic war swept away the fierce Japanese resolve--saving countless lives on both sides.

Donald’s troop ship, the General Anderson, then took him to Europe as part of the Allied occupation of Germany.

His return voyage home was on the Lewiston Victory transport ship, carrying 1,100 servicemen into New York harbor on a crisp September morning in 1946.

The sun-splashed sight of Lady Liberty’s torch was brighter than anything Donald had ever seen:

“It was great to be home, but I also remember how proud I was to wear the uniform of an American soldier,” Donald said a half-century later on a memorable July 4 when Tinney Chapel honored him, as part of the Greatest Generation, for his love of country and church.

When I was a student at Texas A&M, one of my technical agriculture classes was a lecture/lab combination of Soil Conservation techniques which required, among other things, that I interview a real farmer and prepare an illustrated paper about his plans for conserving the soil. At that time, Donald was a full-time farmer and was happy to assist me in that assignment. Upon reflection, I can also say that Donald was my primary inspiration for enrolling in vocational agriculture as a freshman at Winnsboro High School, a decision which proved to be life-changing for me.

When I returned to Winnsboro after a long career as an agricultural journalist in several states, I quickly resumed the active participation in Tinney Chapel, which had been an important part of my childhood and teen years. This required that I choose a Sunday School Class, so I asked Donald if I could join The Wise Ones, a class that he then attended, and where I remained until I was asked to lead the Pairs & Spares (later renamed Remnant) Sunday School Class.

Many of the folks at Tinney Chapel still think of Donald as their patriarch as well as their primary evangelist, because Donald never missed an opportunity to invite newcomers to join him in worshiping the Lord he loved.

Donald had the perfect podium from which to do that at his business, Tinney Building Supply, where he made sure that every new customer heard about the quintessential country church nestled just off FM 312 at 449 County Road 4620.

He didn’t bother to ask newcomers whether or not they already had a church home.

Donald’s style was humble and homespun.

His invitation to his church was no different from his invitation to his home, and in every respect, Donald seemed to regard his church and his home as one and the same.

That a great many of those newcomers thought enough of Donald to accept his invitation is part of the sanctified lore of Tinney Chapel, where an uncommon number of those newcomers either moved their church membership to Tinney Chapel or joined by profession of faith after accepting Christ as personal Savior.

Today, in the foyer of Tinney Chapel’s new family life center, a massive painting of the Ten Commandments, engraved in stone, bears a bronze plate dedicating that painting to the memory of Donald Tinney.

It’s a constant reminder to all that God expects us not only to lead exemplary lives in Christ, but also to invite others to join in that quest for Eternal Life at the right hand of God.

There, we may be certain of visiting once again with Donald Tinney, where we will surely find him doing what he has always done best: Worshiping his Lord with all his heart, and inviting all the newcomers to join him!


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