From Channel 9 News site, Chattanooga TN:
December 27, 2011 4:56 PM
by John Madewell
Compassion has poured out for a Reliance, Tn. family that lost everything in a Christmas morning fire.
This afternoon, a stranger showed unique kindness to Justin Taylor and his family. Larry Eustice continues to “pay it forward” from a personal tragedy he suffered 46 years ago; a house fire that wiped him, his wife and two children out.
Eustice drove 90 miles one way to make an incredible donation to Justin Taylor. Eustice, a retired veteran, got out of his truck and walked with the assistance of a cane to meet Taylor.
The personable man made the introduction and set the mood. He extended his hand to the 30-year-old Taylor and said, “The reason this is is because I’ve been where you’re at.”
In 1965, a fire took everything Eustice owned. He and his family had no insurance and he had been out of work for a year.
That’s the only difference; the Taylor’s had insurance, but still lost everything in this Christmas morning fire. The Taylor’s built this house from the ground up and watched it burn back to its foundation.
That touched Eustice’s heart. While standing underneath a slight rainfall, Eustice reached into his pocket and pulled out 10 crisp $100 bills. “I felt your pain. Here’s you a $1,000 and you can just do what I know it will help.”
Taylor started tearing up and reached out to hug the man he just met. “I’m putting back every little bit I can.” Eustice finished the exchange, “There you can have it.” Taylor responded, “I really thank you, I really do.”
An immediate bond formed. Eustice not only lived the loss of fire, but also felt the warmth of a stranger’s compassion way back in 1965. “He didn’t bring me used stuff, and that has stuck with me all of my life.”
Eustice met the rest of the family; Taylor’s wife Candace, 9-year-old son Colby and two daughters, 4-year old Kinsley and 3-year-old Kali. All of them are living in Taylor’s parent’s house. It’s overflowing with donated clothes and toys.
And today’s visit will never leave him. “You know he broke my heart, to get out of that truck with that walking stick and want to come 90 miles to give a $1,000, it meant a lot.”
Before Eustice left, an idea popped into Taylor’s mind. His father, Roy Taylor, carves walking sticks in his spare time. Justin Taylor nodded to his father to finish one for the retired veteran with a huge heart. Taylor got Eustice’s information and a custom walking stick will soon come his way. And Taylor told Eustice once he got back on his feet, he would follow Eustice’s example.
And the compassion didn’t stop there. Bill Lehmkuhl, of Chattanooga, saw this story and felt compelled to start an account to help the family. It’s called the “Family of Justin and Candace Taylor” account, available at any Regions Bank in the area.
The Taylor family has also opened an account named “Jennifer Taylor FBO Justin Taylor” at First Volunteer Banks.
Copyright © 2011 Freedom Communications