The four years we lived in Bloomington, Illinois, brought many life-long friends our way. We were closest to Mike and Kay Olberding. We all went to church together at the Four Seasons Church of Christ. Mike worked at State Farm Insurance and Kay at that time stayed home with their children, Bruce and Amy. Since we had no children, we were pretty fascinated by their two little ones and the challenges involved.
For example, once when Steve called Mike, he said he couldn’t talk right then because Bruce (maybe age 4—I don’t know) had taken a hammer to their large aquarium. Steve got the picture and hung up quickly.
Kay was reserved, but we all had fun together since the guys were both such cut-ups. She was always willing to chat when the guys weren’t monopolizing the conversation. She definitely had her own ideas about things.
We all laughed so much when we were together. Mike and Steve were on a church league basketball team together, and Kay and I with the children would go watch.
On August 6, 1969, I engineered a surprise twenty-fifth birthday party for Steve after church on Wednesday evening. I lingered after church in time for everyone to get there. Kay and Mike got there quickly to start getting out the food and keeping everyone quiet as we arrived. Steve was truly surprised—and touched that so many people would come to celebrate with him.
The guys had had a basketball game the night before, so Mike came to the party wearing a tube of Ben-Gay (the main muscle pain relief of the day) tied around his neck. He got a lot of laughs about his soreness, and all the guys agreed he was not alone in his soreness.
We moved to Kentucky; they moved to Louisiana. We visited them there with young Josh, and they visited us in Kentucky. My main pictures are of their Kentucky visit.
We had moved from Southgate, Kentucky, to Fort Thomas, just a few miles away. They visited us in our home on Cliffview Avenue (which we sold in 1985 when we moved to Winston Hill.) We were all busy raising our children and with our jobs (Kay was a librarian) and didn’t get together so much for several years, though we always stayed in touch.
I especially recall a paper Kay wrote entitled something like “Not Seeing the Forest for the Trees,” about women in the church. It included eye-opening ideas for me, who had never questioned the restrictions our church placed on women at the time. I wish I still had that article. All these years later, it would be interesting to see how relevant it is now.
Finally, they retired to Kay’s home area in West Plains, Missouri. I tried to find a place where we could meet, somewhere between Fort Thomas and West Plains, but that didn’t work out.
Now that Steve and Mike are retired, they occasionally talk on the phone and Mike is amazing about remembering our anniversary and birthdays. They married in 1965 as we did, but several months ahead of us. They both have had health issues that limit any travel, so they are a bit ahead of us in several ways.
In 2014, we decided to visit Mike and Kay in West Plains. They seemed delighted to have us there and showed us around their compact, handicap-accessible home—preparing for years to come. To go out to lunch, we drove through Brandsville, population 161, and saw the church where Mike is an elder. Then on to Mammoth Springs, Arkansas, for lunch at Fred’s Fish House. It was all delicious, but the camaraderie and laughter were even better. It was great to pick up where we left off, to hear about their lives and those of their children, who are both very solicitous of Mike and Kay and helpful to them. Mike and Kay Olberding: dear friends of the heart, good people who love their families and the Lord and serve wherever they live.