S: for John at Eighty
FC: for John at Eighty
1: “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage.” Psalm 16:6
2: Happy Birthday to John Hunter LaMotte. I remember you as a serious little boy who really believed that our great uncle, Rhett Copeland, drove his buggy over his barn. (It was a very steep ramp going into the barn.) I remember you as a brilliant young man, who married a beautiful wife, and served the Lord in many places. I know you now as a bearded senior citizen, with the same beautiful wife, still serving the Lord in many ways. My husband, Bill, and I love you and are very proud to be your cousins. As I am 87 and Bill is 91 we can truly say “many happy returns” even tho’ you have reached your four score “by reason of strength.” Love, Betty Hunter Brice
3: The Boy Scout troop in Maxton suffered from many changes in Scoutmasters, so it was difficult for a Scout to become an Eagle Scout. John did not wait to become an Eagle Scout before helping younger boys. He started a Cub Scout Pack. Dr. Louis C. LaMotte, Sr., 1979 (Tenth Year of JHL’s ministry in Florida) | Ed, Louis, and John 1937/38 House in Clinton at Thornwell | Hub Hunter and John as cowboys and swimmers
4: Dear Johnny, We send our best wishes to you in celebration of your 80th birthday! We have been blessed all these years to have you as a brother and a friend. Because we were young fellows together I have a somewhat different perspective on your life history. A case in point: your ape-like aspirations in the pecan tree that hung over the sand box in Clinton earned you a broken arm. I remember because I was given the task of “holding” your broken wing as Mother drove us to Dr. Rhame’s office for a repair job. Then you and I enjoyed a period of model airplane building. You built a rubber band powered piper cub or something similar and we created little pontoons for it. You water-proofed them, and you would wind up the rubber band and “taxi” the plane on the goldfish pond in the side yard. Creativity!! You and I had identical bikes. Yours was blue and mine was black. Balloon tires, nice big seat, wide handle bars. Mine had a big basket so I could deliver the Fayetteville Observer, then later the Charlotte Observer. We really enjoyed those bikes, even though many of the streets were not paved. Do you remember how we brought our clothes into Mother and Dad’s bedroom on cold winter mornings so we could dress in front of the fire. Dad was a good fire builder, bless his heart. Then somewhere along there your appendix got inflamed. I think I drove over to Lumberton to fetch you home after the surgery. In those days, an appendectomy was no little button-hole operation. You had to stay in the hospital for many days. Somewhere we had a photo of you in the back yard in your bathrobe during your recuperation. Who can forget the major engineering effort that we promoted to build the trench that led to the bunker that faced to the West (please see the attached sketch). The bunker had steel tracks that supported logs that were covered with dirt. B-B guns could be aimed toward the West from under the top of the bunker, in case any Germans moved from Laurinburg toward Maxton. The defense must have been adequate, because as far as I know Maxton never was invaded. Around the same time we constructed the cowboy hut, made out of lumber we scrounged from the old destroyed president’s house at PJC. We had to straighten lots of bent nails to put it all together. We had an “upstairs”, screened in, reached by climbing up the “chimney” (please see the sketch). I must have been away at college when somebody decided that it had served its purpose for all those years and had it removed. Pity!
5: During World War II the Laurinburg-Maxton Airbase had its most-used runway aimed so that every few minutes a plane pulling a glider would fly over the LaMotte house. War was in the air. The gang on the LaMotte street consisted of three little LaMottes and three same-size neighbor boys and one little girl who was as good a soldier as any of them. They dug trenches in the back yard. Every time a plane approached play machine guns were pointed toward it and there came from a bevy of childish lips a staccato sound that was supposed to sound like the noise of a machine gun. Today from that gang there is a doctor, a lawyer, an auditor, a counselor, a preacher, and a teacher who is also a mother. Dr. Louis C. LaMotte, Sr., 1979 Tenth Year of JHL’s ministry in Florida | Events in Europe and the Pacific prompted the creation of “battle scenes” using our little toy soldiers and the small trenches dug just beyond the back steps. Interestingly, the soldiers were deployed in World War One type trenches; you were not privy to the newer type of warfare of WWII. We did experiment with the effectiveness of a WWI helmet to protect you from a BB aimed at your covered head. I am thankful that you kept your head down!! As we grew older, we both worked in the drug stores, the Maxton Drug Store and Austin’s. You sharpened your Chess game playing against Mr. ? when business was slow. Then you began dating and driving, and at one point you got involved in a night-time game of “turn out your lights and hide from the other drivers playing the game” as you drove around the LM airbase. You had a session a few days later with the Maxton judge after the police gave you an invitation to appear in court. I was away at college, but the news reached me concerning your escapade. Not bad, for a fellow who outdid his older brother in wild-side activities! Then came your wedding in Greenville, FL. We drove down from Maryland, and expected a quiet wedding. However, we brought along a 3 year old daughter and a baby son, who serenaded the wedding party from the front row pew, much to the chagrin of Lila Jean and me. Mercy! We enjoyed the many letters from Africa, and the fun of trying to get the African postal service to get things to you that we tried to mail. Nothing was more emphatic than the vision we had of you with a submachine gun pointed at your belly as you were hastened to get into the plane and get the heck out of that place. And in later years we had so much enjoyment in visits with you two and the children in Sarasota and every other place where you were. The trip to Roanoke and the ride down the mountain with you guys was memorable. Native grapes growing along the road. Wake Forest. We really enjoyed your pastorates! So we say to you, “Thanks for the memories” and for the good times and the good friendship. You are one very special person, and we love you. Lila Jean and Louis
6: I have so many memories of the LaMottes that it is difficult to choose one to tell you about. The event that comes to mind is my 16th birthday celebration. Mother had a dinner party for me and then we went to Evan's Ice House for a square dance. (That place is another story.) Since she thought John Hunter was perfect, she had him come take pictures at the party. I love those pictures. In fact, as I write this, my family is at the beach and I have just taken a break from them and visited with 5 Maxton friends who were in those pictures. John and I agree that we were very fortunate to have grown up in that time in that place. I hope your beach celebration is a perfect one. Best regards to all the LaMotte Clan. Fondly, Mary Lois
8: Presbyterian Junior College Davidson College | When John graduated from Davidson College the valedictorian, before giving his valedictory speech to the class, said, “I am valedictorian because the rules at Davidson require that only a student who attended four years at Davidson is eligible. There are two students in our class whose marks for their stay at Davidson are higher than mine. One of them took his junior year in France. The other, John LaMotte, attended Presbyterian Junior College two years and graduated as valedictorian there. His marks at Davidson for two years are higher than mine.” Dr. Louis C. LaMotte, Sr., 1979 (Tenth Year of JHL’s ministry in Sarasota) | Back of photo reads: "C.W., fire plug, & P.O. Box where your letters are mailed (from right to left) Jan '55" | We go back a long way, to 1952 when I entered Davidson, and John, I think, was a senior. I remember his wonderful mixture of brilliance and humility. John was the brightest guy in his class, but he never showed it off. He was indeed a kind of model, the sort of student I aspired to be. That mix, of course, has never left him, evident as much now as it was sixty years ago. Do give him—and Olivia—our warmest greetings. They are great folks. Warm regards, Pat Miller
9: Dear John, You came into my life via one Charlie Williams (who, as you know, loved you like a brother—not just a Sigma Chi at Davidson, but in every other way!) It was during the year you and he shared a suite at Union Seminary, that I really got to know you. The week-ends when I was on campus there, having you visit my home in Eureka before a fun trip to Charlotte for a Dance Week-End at Davidson, meeting Olivia then and getting to know and love her, going to Florida with Charlie to be in yours and Olivia’s wedding, meeting each of your wonderful families, having you in our wedding a year later in Goldsboro, sharing great times at Union as “newlyweds,” surprising you with a visit to hear you preach at the church in Florida one Sunday morning and spending time with you and Olivia and meeting Kathy, John, Margaret and David. They were such special times for us! Then the times for “get togethers” were not as often as we would have liked because of commitments you and Charlie had to your churches, but that love for each other remained strong through the years. After our arrival at First Presbyterian in Burlington, an invitation to join the two of you at Emerald Isle and fun days there, visits to see you in Wake Forest when you both were busy getting that church organized, and it was always wonderful to see you in Black Mountain when Charlie had a meeting at William Black Lodge! Through these fifty-plus years it has been such a blessing to have you and Olivia such an important and very special part of Charlie’s, and my life! Thank you for your visit to be with Charlie in his very last days with us, and for being such a “Special Brother Friend” not only in Life, but in helping us celebrate his Life at the Worship Service in May of last year. It was great to see, and be with, you and Olivia two weeks ago here in Burlington on your way to a preaching assignment! Thank you for the dinner which was delicious, and for the “food” for my soul! It is always so good to be with each of you! I also must apologize for calling you later that night (I am afraid you had to get out of bed to answer the phone) but “Mother Williams” needed to know you had arrived safely! Thinking of you with Joy and Thankfulness on this, Your 80th Birthday! With love, Nancy Irwin Williams
10: Montreat | When John was at Davidson he worked one summer at Assembly Inn, the leading hotel in Montreat. He was to be assistant clerk, helping sign in people who registered for rooms. The report is that he was always ready and willing to take on the added duties of a bell-hop and help carry bags to the elevator and to guests' rooms. Somebody suggested it was because there was such a lovely girl there running the elevator. Her name was Olivia Bishop. Dr. Louis C. LaMotte, Sr., 1979 (Tenth Year of JHL’s ministry in Sarasota)
11: We have many wonderful memories of summer visits to the LaMotte’s house in Montreat. Details of this next memory are fuzzy, but Dot, my wife, and I were in Montreat when Olivia was at Montreat College, I think. At any rate we took her and her boyfriend, John LaMotte, to ride in our car—outside the Montreat gate—all the way to Black Mountain!! They needed some time to be together—as I remember—not under the strict supervision of house mothers. If we did anything other than ride around town, I forgot. I do remember them being grateful for unsupervised time together. They rode in the back seat and we didn’t peek, so they will have to verify that they behaved well. John Hunter (JHL’s cousin)
12: Union Theological Seminary | I met John Hunter LaMotte for the first time in the last century. Our friendship has extended over half a century. This long and cherished friendship has been nurtured and sustained by our wives, Hilda and Olivia, who were roommates in Montreat College. There are many precious memories related to this friendship. I’ll share only two or three. There was a time in our early courting days when Hilda and Olivia demonstrated their culinary skills. John and I had come from Union Seminary to Montreat for a week end visit. The girls invited us for supper. The menu consisted of beef stew, peas, carrots, and a medley of peas and carrots. (The meal came from a can of Dinty Moore’s beef stew, and a can each of peas and carrots). John and I both remember that banquet and rejoice that the culinary skills of our wives have radically improved. John married Olivia Bishop. I married Hilda Plecker. Each of us participated in the wedding of the other. The account of John’s role in our wedding is highlighted by Roman candle fire works he attached to our get away car. Also, John’s consumption of Mrs. Plecker’s ham biscuits. At Seminary, we lived next door, literally, in the dormitory for married couples. On occasion John and I would discuss and argue over subjects—such as soteriology, eschatology, ecclesiology, epistemology, and of course, theology. One evening, long after the lights were out, I heard Hilda softly weeping. Anxiously I asked her if something was wrong. She answered, “If I have to believe everything you and John argue about, I’ll go to hell!” John, Olivia, and their baby girl, Kathy, visited us in our first parish. At breakfast the next morning John appeared exhausted. He explained Kathy was fretful and would not go to sleep. He resolved the matter by putting her in his car and riding around most of the night until she went to sleep. For over half a century our own ministries have provided occasion for updating our ties. I believe it is a work of God’s grace that John and Olivia, Dick and Hilda are now close by as we live out our last days singing together our doxologies. With fondest memories, Dick Hobson
14: July 8, 1955
15: Greenville, Florida
16: Oceana, West Virginia | 1983 | Exploring Kopperston Mine, 1956 | Easter Morning
17: Aug.17, 1955 our apartment Betsy Morgan, Olivia LaMotte, Martha Morgan, Norman Morgan
18: Montpellier, France | MONTREAL LES LAMOTTES It began in Montreal, and it has never ended. John and Olivia were on board a ship.... it was in the St. Lawrence River, docked at Montreal. In a few hours it would head back out the St. Lawrence for the Atlantic and France. John had just graduated from Union with honors and the scholarship that went with it. They were on their way to a reformed seminary in Montpellier, France, where they would brush up on their French before then going to "the Congo" as missionaries. I had come aboard the ship that afternoon on my way to the same seminary. After putting my gear in my room, I walked up on deck -- and there they were standing together by the railing. I can still see them. They saw me, waved, smiled and gestured for me to come and join them. I did. And we have been joined in faith, friendship and love ever since. Time and again that year Olivia befriended me on many a lonely night with food and friendship. During that year John introduced me to the New Testament theology of Manson, Taylor, Dodd, Jeremias and P.T. Forsyth. And those foundational studies and faith have been the bedrock of my life since 1958.... fifty-three years. HAPPY 80TH BIRTHDAY, JOHN, in 2011. William R. (Boney) Jones
19: Chatham, Virginia | John was pastor in Chatham, Virginia, when his second child was born. John’s mother and father rushed up to Chatham to see the new grandson. When they got there, John was in bed with a touch of pneumonia. Having a baby is sometimes hard on the father! Next day Olivia and the new baby were due to come home from the hospital. John being ordered to stay in bed, Grandfather was dispatched to purchase some medicine for John and to get Olivia and the baby from the hospital. Grandfather was supposed to bring the medicine home, pick up a bassinet of clothes for the baby, and then go to the hospital. Maybe Grandfathers get excited about bringing a new grandson home. Anyway that Grandfather got medicine and went to the hospital right on with no bassinet. The nurse asked, “What is your son’s name?” “Why-er-er-er, I don’t know. I’m only the grandfather.” “Where are the clothes for the baby?” “Clothes. I don’t know anything about clothes.” The hospital donated diapers and a shirt so the baby did not go home naked. Dr. Louis C. LaMotte, Sr., 1979 (Tenth Year of JHL’s ministry in Sarasota)
20: Mrs. Lee Bishop, Sr P.O. Box 266 Greenville Florida THE BAND PLAYED, THE WHISTLE BLEW & SHE SAILED AWAY. IT WAS THRILLING. NICE BEDS & FOOD FOR THE CHILDREN. ALL SEEMED WELL--BOAT SAILED AT 11:30 (DAYLIGHT TIME-10:30 YOUR TIME) I CAME ON BACK TO PHILLY. LOVE, Evelyn | Neuchatel, Switzerland
21: When John and Olivia, Kathy and John, Jr. were scheduled to go to Zaire in Africa as missionaries, after studying in Neuchatel, Switzerland, for nine months, they were delayed because of the fighting in the Congo. John’s Father was one of the instructors on a Round-the-World Study Tour that summer, and had planned to leave the tour in Beirut and go to Africa to visit John and Olivia in Bibanga in Africa. He went, but John and family had been detained in Switzerland. So he imagined he was an advance agent to investigate everything and report to John and family in Switzerland when he stopped there enroute home to the U.S.A. He even left some souvenirs in Africa, which he had bought in Asia, for John and Olivia to pick up from other missionaries in Africa. They went out in the early fall. Dr. Louis C. LaMotte, Sr., 1979 (Tenth Year of JHL’s ministry in Sarasota)
22: Democratic Republic of Congo | Dear John, Cordial greetings and hearty best wishes on your eightieth birthday! We have many shared memories: Union Seminary in Richmond, the APCM in Congo, BMPC and Kiwanis in Black Mountain. You have blessed Ruthmary and me in many ways during those eight decades, beginning with our time together at Ndesha. We remember your gift for languages, your sermons that nourished minds and hearts, your diligence as a teacher, your generous spirit and sense of humor as a colleague. These coalesced when you organized a celebration on the day Yale awarded me a degree in absentia. I remember visiting you and Olivia in Norfolk during your fruitful ministry at Calvin Presbyterian Church and realizing that my disappointment at losing you as a colleague in Congo was really selfish. I remember my joy at reestablishing that collegial relationship when we moved to Montreat and became involved, like you, in the Black Mountain Presbyterian Church and later in the Black Mountain-Swannanoa Kiwanis Club and Thrift Shop. Only here have I come to know your gifted children and learned what you and Olivia have accomplished through these decades. May rich memories bless your special day, just as you and your family have blessed our lives. With love, Lamar and Ruthmary Williamson | Congratulations, John, on your 80th birthday! We were blessed to be at Bulapé with you and Olivia for a short time. Blessed also to now be at Black Mountain with you. It is a real treat when you give a sermon or a class. I always learn a lot and am inspired. Dr. Mulumba Mbayalu is in charge of the seminary at Ndesha where you taught for a while. We were so glad he could visit us in this country—and I enclose a photo. We celebrated his birthday when he was with us. He taught us something we’ve never forgotten. On a birthday cake three candles are best. One is for the past, one is for the present, and the third is for the future. I pray that God bless you and yours richly as you celebrate this important milestone. Lovingly, Aurie Miller
23: Happy, riotous birthday to you, John. Now that you are (or, in French, have) 80 years you have entered the age of Old Fogeydom (or codgerhood)) and there is no escape, even for good behaviour. Hang on for the coming ride. I will be 83 next month and Nancy, also almost 83, walks with a cane now. We find the price for them (canes) is very reasonable In defense of the elderly we have started a Senior Labour Union demanding that those 80 and over be accorded double reduction for all events, incl. false teeth repair and travel to exotic places, i.e., the Congo. Joining fee less than you would expect for a short time. Wonder what life is like there now? Then at Bulape in 1962 (1963?) when we were teaching at the Ecole de Predicateurs. We lost contact after that for some time, all the while aging, enjoying life and, we hope, gaining wisdom and teaching experience. We met again in Va., where you were in the pastorate, and later in Montreat, N.C., where we attended church together, shared a meal together and we said au revoir (or Adieu?). That's several years ago. We see you, John (and Olivia) in our years' past memories and continue to be grateful to our Lord for your ministry(ies) in the Congo and in the USA. We wish for you a very memorable birthday festivity with family and friends---and memories. God bless. Nancy and Charlie | Opening Ceremonies, Ecole Unie de Theologie, Ndesha, 1962
24: Norfolk, Virginia | Dear John, So it’s going to be your 80th next month. That doesn’t seem nearly as old as it used to. I’ll catch up with you in October and I think we both still have a lot to offer. I remember the days at Calvin with great fondness and you and Olivia made it so pleasant and productive. I always enjoyed coming across the street for a Bible study or many a fine meal. And it was while I was a member of Calvin that I decided to go to seminary. Your leadership and encouragement had a lot to do with that decision. So, for good or ill, you are responsible for at least one more Presbyterian minister. Thinking back, what I remember most, in addition to your sermons which I found invariably useful, were your efforts to assist me as an elder and to indoctrinate me into the arcane ways of Presbytery. Your efforts bore fruit because after leaving Calvin I served four more congregations as an elder and am an officer in presbytery. Wishing you the best for your 80th year and for many more to come. With great regard, Keith Lawrence
25: I remember the first time I met you. You and Olivia had recently come from the mission field and we met you your first Sunday at Calvin. We came up to you and introduced ourselves to you in French! We too, had recently arrived after our sejour in Geneva. We also had children about the same age, and felt a kind of connection as friends. Many times when Charlie was at sea, you both were so helpful to me in many ways. And John, it seemed almost every sermon you gave was something I needed to keep me going during long periods when I had to be both mother and father during Charlie’s “at sea” period. You and Olivia also modeled a lot for me in raising my children when I often had to be both mother and father to them. I remember one time we visited you in Montreat. Genevieve remembers it better and says we stayed in a cabin. Then, when I saw you at Jim Steel’s funeral, I nearly went into shock! But then that trip to Norfolk was a trip of a lifetime, and seeing you and Olivia was probably the most unexpected pleasure I had! John, may God continue to bless you in all that you do. God has and does use you in wonderful ways. And may you have many joyful returns. Your friend forever, Steve-Anna Bird
26: Dear Uncle Johnny, Happy happy birthday!! 80 years young and still smiling. That image is what comes to mind when I think of you....your deep rumbling voice and your eye- twinkling smile that conveys an "I love you" each and every time it spreads across your face. Your voice reminds me so much of Granddad, but your inner sweetness is so much Grandmom that I sometimes feel her near when you are near. Watching you handle life situations (good and bad) has inspired me to strive to be kinder, love deeper, listen better and forgive more completely. God gave you the gift of being able to plant seeds in peoples' hearts with your words, and in my life, you have used that gift well. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to say thank you for being a presence in my life. I love you. Nancy
27: Eighty years old. So John must have been 34 when we first met. Jean and I had been members of Royster Memorial Presbyterian Church for some 15 years during our various Navy tours in Norfolk. In 1965 returning from a tour in Washington, we rented a house on Murray Avenue. Calvin was just a few blocks away so we visited it the first Sunday we were back. There we remained until we moved to Black Mountain in 1990. John was the minister with children about the ages of ours. We have been friends for all those years. Jean always refers to John as “her pastor” for his sermons and words of wisdom reached her as she was very involved in the many aspects of a Navy Wife. She remembers our Katie asking John if he “would baptizer” her. We had hoped that Jean’s brother would be here to baptize Katie but that did not happen. Katie took it upon herself to see that things were done properly. Living close to the church had several advantages for John. I recall the time change one spring when John forgot to set his clock ahead and the first service began without a minister. A quick phone call, a rapid throwing on clothes, and a dash to the nearby church, and John was ready to preach. (How was he dressed under the robe?) I recall my first Presbytery Meeting as an Elder and John was the Moderator. It was at Kempsville Presbyterian Church. On one vote, some representative chose to abstain and John informed him such was not permitted. John knew his procedures. Our reconnecting in Black Mountain has been wonderful. Getting to know all the LaMotte children after all these years has been a real treat. A wonderful family. So, John, a Happy Birthday, and we look forward to celebrating your 90th. Jean and Dan | Mr. LaMotte is a very special & respected person in my life. I honestly cannot remember not knowing him! ....I loved watching him sing the hymns from the pulpit as my Dad & I sat in the congregation. I have memories of picking flowers at their house on Murray Ave. (I was reprimanded for not asking first), going to the same sitter as Margaret in Larrymore Lawns (she used to wear a bandana on her face like a cowboy when changing a diaper), and my Mom using my baby dolls’ playpen to hold the shower gifts for David’s baby shower which my Mom hosted. While serving churches in Roanoke & Florida, the LaMottes stayed in touch with my parents. Eventually both couples retired and rekindled their friendship in Black Mountain, NC. I was really excited about this as it meant I would be reunited with them too, however it seemed that each time I’d visit, they'd leave town! Thankfully they were in town the weekend my brothers and I surprised our parents with a family gathering in honor of their 50th wedding anniversary. One of the highlights of the weekend was having Mr. LaMotte offer the prayer before my parents cut their cake & shared a toast. He was our only choice...ever since he served at Calvin Presbyterian Church, he was always affectionately referred to by my Mom as “John LaMotte, MY minister” And truthfully, I think all the Reillys think of him that way! Happy 80th Birthday Mr. LaMotte~ Love, Katie Reilly Humphrey (& I turned 50 this year!) | In September 1966, our family lived in Norfolk and attended Calvin Presbyterian Church. I was 16, had been very active in Scouts, and hoped to attend the next World Jamboree to be held in August 1967 in Idaho. In school I'd studied French, and I hoped to be able to try it in the real world, if I could attend the Jamboree. The LaMottes were the only folks I knew then who had used French on a daily basis, when they lived outside the U.S. John wrote a very kind letter of recommendation for me, citing among other things my being conversant in that language. I was one of the area scouts selected to attend the 1967 World Jamboree, and it was a marvelous experience. I've always felt that John's letter of recommendation was key in that. As an aside ... my first occasion to use French at the Jamboree was at a soft drink machine. A scout from Africa wasn't sure where to insert his coins. (Drinks were dispensed in bottles then. There was a slot to put coins in the machine, another slot for change to be returned, and a place where bottle caps fell when it was opened. If you weren't familiar with such machines, it could be puzzling.) He spoke French, but not English. I helped him, and we began to converse. A few nights later, he and some fellow African scouts joined us for dinner at our campsite. We corresponded for a couple of years afterward. I've always credited John's confidence (in my ability to use French) with my actually becoming confident with the language. So it seemed fitting that your email arrived while I was in France. John Reilly
28: TO WHOEVER MAY BE REMOTELY CONCERNED This is to affirm from personal knowledge and experience that John Hunter LaMotte, of reasonably sound body and mind, is a genuine, authentic human being. How else could he have kept his sanity through some four decades in the active Presbyterian ministry? Well, of course, there were lovely Olivia and four ‘above average’ children, who deserve their tributes for perseverance. Nevertheless he did well considering the innate, though questionable, talents he had to work with. My wife, Carter, and I first met them in the famous Tidewater area of Virginia in the mid-1960’s—they in Norfolk, we in Virginia Beach. What great times we had together in a dinner-theatre group and visits in our homes. Then he left us for the siren sun of Florida. Not to be outdone, we followed to the less-famous Tampa Bay area—they in Sarasota, we in Tampa. They got better culture, we got better cigars. There we were able to deepen our friendship as we shared the trials and joys of both the ministry and children-growing-up. Dadgummit, again he left us: we to swelter in the heat while he moved his family to the cool Blue Ridges of Roanoke, Virginia. After that—except for a few phone calls, an occasional meeting, second-hand rumors—our friendship moved to ‘hold up—hold down—hold on,’ a version of “Won’t You Come Home, John Hunter,” er “Bill Bailey.” I’ve heard he has grown a beard, trying to pose as a mountain man. But his trail of good deeds, community involvement, and church activities are dead giveaways. And if that weren’t enough, there’s always lovely Olivia who has somehow, unbelievably stuck with him for 56 years. On a less serious note I would like to join the five or ten friends and family members there to celebrate his survival for 80 fun-filled, action-packed, ecclesiastically-daunting, better-than-deserved years. Happy birthday to John H. LaMotte, My Old and Too-Long-Missing Friend!! Fondly, with happy memories, John S Lyles
29: Sarasota, Florida
31: Birthday Thanks for your ministry and friendship in our lives, John: Jean and I started thinking about all the ways you have influenced, nurtured, challenged, supported, and been present in our lives over the years. When we think of you, we remember Olivia, too. We moved to Sarasota in August, 1972, just before our first son, Rodger, was born. We remember you visiting us and inviting us to connect with First Presbyterian after our first visit. We were hesitant because there were almost no people our age in church. You reminded us of your connection and friendship with George when he visited you on the mission field in Congo. You challenged us to come and become a nucleus of a new group of younger adults at First Presbyterian. We remember you and Olivia having us over for dinner along with the Beasons. Together we took up the challenge with you and Paul at FPC. As several other couples joined, we formed a small group. We chafed at traditional worship; you introduced us to Bob Walkup and his less formal music and style. Then you took the big risk and invited our group including the Shanks and Lindsleys to start an informal service. That was an amazing experience that freed us and welcomed us to be a part of First in a way that helped us hear God’s love and word and apply it to our lives. You and Olivia even risked Kathy and Margaret, we think, to us as youth leaders. You baptized our two sons, Rodger and David. You worked with Jean as she served as your radical young female elder who even got pregnant and served communion in that state. You walked with me as I struggled and then answered God breaking through my resistance to God’s call to go back to Seminary. You and the congregation supported us while we studied at Union. Our paths crossed again in a very significant way as you accepted a call to First Presbyterian in Roanoke. I was already in my first pastorate at Green Ridge. You and I were in a pastors’ support group. We grieved with you when Ed Warren, your associate was killed. On a much happier note, I was honored by Margaret and Lee to officiate at their wedding at First Presbyterian. Jean and Olivia were in their wonderful group that just reconnected in June. I remember New Year’s Eve parties at your house, too. Since then, we have kept in touch with visits to your beautiful place in Black Mountain. We have shared the joys and challenges of our lives and of the lives of our children and grandchildren. We are grateful to God that your lives have been so intertwined in ours over the years. We are grateful for your mentoring and friendship. Happy 80th Birthday, John. Love and peace, Bill and Jean Cooley
33: Dee and I first met John and Olivia in 1970 when John was called to be the pastor of First Church in Sarasota. We knew immediately that they were going to be good friends and a blessing to our church as well. John provided great leadership for 14 years and his steady hand truly brought our church into the 20th century! Both of our daughters, Peggy and Karen, were married by John. Those two unions produced nine beautiful grandchildren and we are grateful to John for doing such a great job. When I think about John on his 80th birthday I am reminded once again of the “big words”—the ones that are truly important. Words like love, kindness, wisdom, integrity, humility and grace are just a few that come to mind. John LaMotte has always had those qualities and many more in abundance. Dee and I are most grateful for the positive impact of John LaMotte in our lives. Happy Birthday—we love you very much. Charlie and Dee Stottlemyer | Dear John, Ted joins me in wishing you a very happy 80th birthday. We thank God that you spent some of those years with us in Sarasota. You have shared your wisdom, love and kindness with all your “flocks” and for that we are grateful. We wish you health, happiness, and many more years. Our love to Olivia and all your family —Karen and Ted
34: Dear John: On the occasion of your 80th Birthday, it is my privilege and pleasure as the designated clerk of the remaining remnants of the Sarasota Group to offer you hardiest and most sincere congratulations and best wishes. Eighty----WOW! Who would have thought it? We here enjoyed the fun in helping you celebrate your 40th Birthday as well as your 50th Birthday. We remember those occasions fondly. On a personal note, I also am able to almost vividly remember meeting you as a very freshly minted twenty year old. Birthdays have always been and continue to be big in this Group. Sadly and unfortunately, half of this special and august Group have retired from birthdays on this green earth, and have bequeathed to us survivors the obligation to carry the torch and continue the seriousness, and yes, silliness of many more birthday bashes. As you enjoy your longevity, and you have the numbers to seriously qualify, please slow down for half a minute to absorb the radiation of friendship and best wishes emanating from Sarasota for your enjoyment of many more Happy Birthdays Fondly, Bob Peg, Jack, Emilie and Bob | Group | The
36: Dear Dad, I'm sure all of us who attempted this felt at least a little overwhelmed by the "How can I possibly convey . . .?" question, and I'll be surprised if any of us feel we've done it justice. Your place in all our lives is so very large. But I laughed when the first thought that came into my mind was, well, he's the world's best packer! I guess that shows you where my head is these days. It really is an honor to be your daughter. Among the many things you've shared with me are: Swiss army knives and Swiss fondue in Geneva; the closeness of family and a connection to "all this world You love"; your brown eyes and your way of seeing others through the eyes of God. You and Mom live with such generosity, and of course, I benefit from that. I especially treasure all those spontaneous meals and trips, sometimes wrestling with the heavy stuff, sometimes laughing until our sides split. You've modeled such a willingness to work hard and to do absolutely anything that you thought was required of you. Just this summer, you and Mom have helped me pack and move (and unpack and clean)! I so love and am so grateful for your willingness to just "jump and run" whenever you can be of use to anyone. You've been in my corner every step of this crazy journey, encouraging me and celebrating with gusto every small victory, forgiving my failings and missteps, believing in me. You've loved me -- and at times that was quite a challenge, I know. But if there could be an even better gift, it is the way you love Michael. I'm grateful beyond words for that -- especially for those early years when he so needed someone other than me to show him what it meant to be a man. He is now a loving, happy, kind, faithful adult (who is good with his hands!), and I give you a great deal of the credit. You've been my dad nearly 53 years now, and still you are caring for me, teaching me, watching out for me, and yes, fixing things for me! . . . and still explaining that it comes from two old Greek words! You're amazing, and I'm so grateful for you every day. Congratulations to the youngest man ever to turn 80! I love you, Dad. Kathy
38: It is an honor and a gift to know you, John, to witness your never-ending curiosity; to enjoy the ways you celebrate daily miracles and hard-fought victories; to benefit from your faithful willingness to labor over stoves and stones, empty homes and moving vans; and to share the too-infrequent times we’ve had to just sit and talk together. Thank you for the way you have welcomed me and shared your wonderful family with me. Happy birthday! -Eric
39: Grindad . . . an appropriate name for someone who makes me smile everytime I see him. If he loves you, you know it and will never forget it. Same goes for his teachings on life. I am so happy to have learned about life and love from him especially. Sure do love my GrinDad.
40: Dad, I still have this picture hanging in my office: three generations of LaMotte men sailing down the Nile. That trip was one of the most important experiences of my life. I also remember being on the water fishing with you and Major Farmer—those were good days. I’ve done the same thing with Matthew. I guess what goes around comes around. (Matthew and I still talk about fishing at Lake Lure with you, even though we didn’t catch anything!) Parenting’s not easy, and I thank you for all the ways you were there for me: building soapbox derby cars and treehouses, always encouraging my love of reading, getting ready for my scout trip to Canada, and supporting me as I’ve made career changes. You’ve always been my walking dictionary, ready to answer my questions, whether they were about Latin or theology or whatever. It was great having you here for Matthew’s graduation from UCF; I hope there will be many more reunions of those three generations. Love from both of us, Johnny and Matthew
41: Wow, I think everyone who has ever had a relationship of any kind with Grindad knows that a simple message would not even begin to be enough to hold all of the wonderful stories that would come from all of those awesome times! I would have to say my fondest memories with Grindad always come back to Fernandina Beach where they would visit often. I remember the time when it was practically the whole family there and we had such a great time. Walking along the beaches, trying to fly the kites, and going out to that awesome restaurant with the giant shark hanging out in front. On top of those good times, I can never forget all the great times we had in NC at the LaMotte house. Going to the park, eating at the ice cream store by the waterfall, and just spending time with the family. I can even remember as far back as that festival they used to have in the big field up the road from the house. And who could forget shifting through all the dirt to find different minerals and gems. No matter where we were or what we were doing, Grindad would make sure we were all having a great time. | with love from Matt
42: Always you have been a steady center for me. With you, I am at home. I suspect that it is because of you that I love mornings—the quiet before the rest of the house rouses, the sound of the first birds. Your whistling in the mornings set the tone for so many of my early days. —And how often those days were bookended, at the beginning or the end, by the sound of you laughing in bed with Mom. The joy you find in each other—the persistent forging of your love in each new circumstance—has strengthened all of us to hope for and to treasure our own beloved ones. I am so grateful to have grown up on Oak Street, where church and home both welcomed me. Thank you for making time for my interruptions, for listening the way you do, for baring your heart in worship. And now you will be eighty. How blessed we are to have shared all these years with you—and, oh, I hope for many more. Whatever comes, you have loved us well. A few years ago I had a series of dreams in which you and Mom figured. In the dreams I was apprehensive, wary of what was coming—but you were curious, eager to explore. The dreams comforted me because they promised that even if the two of you precede us in death, you will continue to help us to imagine and to greet life with courage and hope. —How we love you. Marni
43: John, I am continually in awe of your energy, humility, and generosity in pursuing a life of service to others – both your immediate family and the larger community. The strength of your faith has been a deep source of inspiration to me. You and Olivia serve as a strong center to the family and we count on you in ways that we don’t even understand. Thank you for your friendship, your love and for giving life to the beautiful woman that is my wife. Lee
44: To me you are calloused hands Wrapped around hammers and screw drivers Covered in soil planting seeds in the garden Hands that held me when I could be held within them And hands that firmly grasp my hands today To me you are stories of staring down machine guns in Africa Of churches and families Old photographs and gathered passed down pieces To me you are the calm measured voice on the phone before your surgery That spoke of love and pride and goodbyes And the fear I felt that day To me you are eyes peering through glasses and Shoulders hunched over puzzles To me you are the father my mother loves so deep | with love from Nate
45: Grindad, You have blessed my life in so many ways. Growing up you always seemed to know just about everything. You could fix just about anything, too. I remember one time many years ago when I dropped a porcelain doll I had been playing with. The whole back of the doll shattered, and you carefully gathered the shards and spent the afternoon gluing it back together, piece by piece. I still have the doll. From building rockwork to leading churches to picking blackberries with your grandchildren, you put so much energy toward helping those around you. You and I share a deep love of learning, and I have been so grateful for your encouragement and support as I head off to the University of Chicago. I hope in the years to come that I will follow your lead in other ways as well. I have been so grateful for the chance to live nearby these past nine years, sharing everyday occasions as well as momentous ones. Happy Birthday and much love, Hanna
46: Dear Dad, It’s hard to know where to begin a letter honoring your eighty trips around the sun, other than to say that I am so grateful that I am your son, not to mention that Mason is your grandson. I have memories of roughly half of your eighty years, and it is fascinating to watch them spark off of each other when I cast the net back over those decades. I remember holding your hand, trying desperately to match your pace when your legs still represented most of the length of my body. I remember walking across the red bricks of Oak Street to come find you in your office, and curling myself into your robe as you shook hands at the church door on Sunday. I remember being awakened with back rubs. I remember you whittling me a bow and arrow from the stand of bamboo between the church and the park (years later I did the same for a little French child in Carnac). I remember you tenderly burying my hamster, wrapped in sea grape leaves, explaining that in the Congo they bury people wrapped in leaves. You honored that little life with respect for my real sadness. I remember your building me a tree house, complete with jalousy windows and a retractable ladder, and hanging out with you in the garage, banging on the little work bench Thornton Utz brought to me. As my thoughts now ramble through those early years, though, somehow the most powerful memory is sitting on the front steps of the Oak St. house with you. You had gone out there to have a one-on-one talk with one of my older sibs, I don’t remember which one now, about something that was doubtless worthy of some real time and attention. I wanted some of that undivided attention, and when you were done with that talk, I asked if we could go out on the steps and talk. To your credit, you said yes and freely gave me the thing I wanted most—your time. I’m not sure I could think of anything I needed to talk about when we got there, and I doubt you were surprised by that, but you took the time. Or, rather, you gave it. Nearly forty years later, I remember. And later I remember the overnight bike trip we took. I remember you standing in the river at Cedarkirk, leading a worship service for a youth retreat, and sunrise services in the park. After we moved to Roanoke, I remember you building the stone platform down in the ‘dingle’ and pushing a penny into the cement to mark the year. I remember holding your hand after your heart surgery and finding it unfamiliar, soft and powerless, unlike the powerful hands to which I am accustomed, and I remember your irreverent humor in recovery, and how you seemed quicker to laugh after that hard time. The threads through all of those scenes and many more are that I was—and am—inspired by your example, and that I never doubted your love, even in the midst of your effort to love so many others. Thank you for those unfathomable gifts, which, along with Mom’s love and the faith you both shared with me, are foundational to all else that I have experienced and become. I treasure the opportunity to celebrate these eight well-spent decades, and I look forward to more memories in the years to come. All my love, David
47: Dear John, What an honor it is to be part of the celebration of you and your 80 years on the planet! I'm grateful every day for your wisdom, your generosity, the warmth you've blessed David, Mason and me with, and for feeling like I am indeed lucky enough to have not one but two loving fathers in my life. Thank you for so fully and openly welcoming me into this family from the first time I visited back in the spring of 2002. Since then I've learned so much from you and Olivia about being a faithful and loving partner and parent and neighbor. And I'm absolutely positive that, if I am fortunate enough to celebrate my 80th birthday, some of my most cherished memories of all will be those of your patiently teaching Mason about bird-feeding and gardening and coffee-making and of the beautiful way the two of you love each other. Love, Deanna
48: Happy Birthday to John! I sit today to try to collect some of my thoughts and memories and try to honor you. There are so many ways that you have impacted my life, it is hard to begin. I was in Junior High when you and the family moved to Sarasota and you took over as the minister at First Presbyterian. I know that my parents felt that you breathed new life into that church. My mother was so happy to have an educated, energetic, intelligent person of faith become the pastor. I believe my father found a Presbyterian he could respect! I remember the youth group bestowing on you a “Super Preacher” cape. To me, you brought a second family. You brought me Kathy, who became my best friend and my other sister. I remember so many Sunday lunches spent at your house (just another one of the kids at the table). You and Olivia were younger than my parents and it was wonderful to be around adults with “younger ideas.” In my own family, I was the youngest and treated as the baby; in your house I was the oldest and got the chance to have little brothers and sisters. I remember hugs and kisses and so much laughter and lots of time to tell and retell our stories. I remember at least two summers that I joined the family in Montreat. This was such a good thing for me because it was a chance to be away from my home, but still protected by you and Olivia. Montreat was so small and safe that we had freedom to roam around independently—something my parents would never let me do. I remember one of the summers I couldn’t leave when Olivia and the kids were leaving, so I got to go along with you in a small plane a few days later. The airplane ride alone was a treat, but the best thing was that I wasn’t left behind. We met the rest of the family in North Florida at Olivia’s mom’s home. It seemed to me that you could always work it out for me and satisfy my parents (who were so protective) that everything would be just fine. I know that I thought the North Carolina mountains were so beautiful. I remember several hikes to Mt. Mitchell. I was infected with the beauty. Now I live in a mountain state. | from Cathy Shank
49: One summer, you were taking seminary classes and only came to visit Montreat on certain weekends. I have a photo of Margaret, David and me with wild flowers gathered for your anniversary. I believe you made it to Montreat that evening to celebrate. I remember the excitement of your coming and how you and Olivia looked so happy and in love. I remember hearing the stories of your courtship in Montreat. I remember the week that everyone came (Utzs, Clarks, Perkins, Shanks), but I don’t think you were there. I think Olivia was the hostess for the mostest that time. One summer, Kathy and I went to Maxton to stay with your parents for several days. Granddaddy LaMotte called me his “honorary granddaughter,” but his lovely southern drawl made it sound like I was the “ornery granddaughter.” I remember sitting down on one of their beds and breaking it. This just became one more funny story to be told around the table about “C-Cathy”. I treasure the memory of your lovely warm parents. Your Dad took Kathy and me on our first “college visit.” After I went away to college, I remember coming home and making the stop at the manse to see ‘my other family’. I remember bringing a boyfriend home at Christmas and being sure to bring him by to be approved. I came even when Kathy wasn’t there. After I went to Honduras, I remember wanting to share what I had learned at church. You helped me put together an evening service and tolerated my preachy-ness and new found global awareness. I remember when my mom had the first surgery for cancer; you went and waited with my dad at the hospital. I had just graduated from college and was home, but I just couldn’t handle waiting at the hospital. You were there for Ernie, when I couldn’t be. I remember when my mother was in the hospital dying of cancer, that you were one of the few people that she would acknowledge. She would always smile for you. You were there for us at her memorial service and there for Ernie when he remarried. You and Olivia hosted the welcome for Anne after they were married. I remember visiting you all in Roanoke one Christmas when I was living in Washington, DC. It is striking to me that I have always felt that I could call up and just say, “Here I am. I am coming over to see you.” and just show up at the door on Christmas Eve. It was you that I wanted to do my wedding ceremony. You were the bridge between my past and future. You helped me to be proud of the new life I was carrying instead of hush-hush about being pregnant first. I remember how you took special care to add a Jewish blessing to appease my in-laws. I loved seeing you all in Black Mountain several years ago and staying at the Montreat house. I love to see photos of you and the family on Facebook. I love seeing Mason who reminds me so much of David as a young child. I wish we were closer geographically because I would visit you often. I visit you often in my thoughts. You still live close by in my heart. As I raised my kids, I remember reading that the best thing you can do for teenagers is for them to have other adults in their lives for when their own parents just won’t do. You and Olivia were those people for me. You helped make me a whole person. I treasure you and I love you both.
50: Remembering John LaMotte: John drove the first time we attended a Sarasota Ministerial Association meeting together. On the way to a meeting at another church, John indicated that he needed to make a stop on the way at the Lower West Coast Blood Bank, near the Sarasota Memorial Hospital. It seems that they had called him to see if he could give a pint of blood, as they were running short. It ended up that I accompanied him into the building and ended up giving my first of many pints of blood during our Sarasota ministry. The surprise and suddenness of it all was a happening I will long remember. Paul H. Moehlman, 1979 (Tenth Year of JHL's ministry in Sarasota)
51: When John and Olivia left Norfolk and moved to Sarasota, their LaMotte family rushed down during the Christmas vacation only a few weeks after they got to Sarasota. They have come back several times since. Last August John phoned saying they had been unable to secure just the Associate Pastor they wanted. He asked if the retired Presbyterian preacher-minister LaMotte and Sarah could come down to help with visitation for three months to allow more time to select a permanent Associate Minister. When Louis and Sarah told their youngest son about the possibility of being in Sarasota his comment was: “that will work out fine because John is so good. As for me, Dad, I could not put up with you for three months.” Dr. Louis C. LaMotte, Sr., 1979 (Tenth Year of JHL’s ministry in Sarasota) | Let me wish a most happy and festive birthday for John and also to be included should be his wife, Olivia. Our first meeting with these two good friends was probably in the summer or early fall of 1980, when we moved to Sarasota from Baltimore. At that time John’s father was helping at First Presbyterian Church and wished to retire. At about that time the Church had selected Maurice Steinberg (Stone) to be John’s Assistant; but, due to his having open heart surgery at a hospital in Miami he was unable to fulfill the assignment at the Church. At that time John said to me (I think) “the angels have sent you” and thus it was I became John’s handyman (don’t think I had any title) at the Church for seven years. John was my mentor and told me what to do—to visit parishioners, attend women’s circle meetings, etc. In the pulpit sometimes I would preach or pray and look after people in the Mobile Home Park beside the Church. It was a sincere joy for me and my wife, Nora, to be with John and Olivia whenever possible. So salutations to a dear friend and in case he thinks he’s getting older let him be reminded that his once handyman will be 96 when he is 80. I remember when John on his 50th birthday he received a card of sympathy from some adoring church member! Pax Vobiscum..with love, Don and Nora
52: I first met John LaMotte when he was the pastor of the largest Presbyterian Church in Sarasota, Florida and I was the pastor of the smallest Presbyterian Church in Clearwater, Florida. Often big fish swim with big fish and little fish swim with ones their size. My experience had been that the pastors of big churches stay pretty much to themselves. But John’s open-hearted welcome to me not only gave me respect but also an anticipation to be with him again. John asked me to join him on our presbytery’s committee to study ways to unite the PCUSA with the PCUS. The committee’s task was deep and wide but from the beginning John welcomed me to the table and honored my contributions. His grasp of the structure and energy required to submit our recommendations for further discussion was proof of his intelligence and a sign of his commitment to being a part of a healthy denomination for future years. Those months of meeting with John and the committee pressed me toward joyful participation in the denomination, knowing that the best minds and hearts had expressed our wisdom. Since I had begun a contemporary service of worship at the Hope Church, John requested that I teach his elders how to design one for an early service at First Church. John rightly held the traditional service high but he was the first large church pastor in Florida to move towards a contemporary service alternative for his people. Later when I left the pastorate for a mission position with the Medical Benevolence Foundation I felt John’s support when he invited me to preach to his next pastorate in Roanoke, Virginia. When John left his church in Roanoke he took a surprising step and became the start-up pastor for a New Church Development in Wake Forest, N.C. John could have remained a few more years in Roanoke and added nicely to their retirement security. I underestimated his enthusiasm for such a difficult job. John tackled his assignment like a 30 year old with energy to spare. It’s likely that a good part of the success of the new church development was due to his wife, Olivia, who always has successfully and joyfully served alongside John. During his years in Wake Forest we gathered together our wives and two other couples forming a Covenant Group where I witnessed John’s finest characteristic, his deep love for God and people everywhere. Never doubt his credibility or the hope he has for the world. He’s one of only a few leaders who has a full measure both of intellect and intuition. He has inspired me to follow Christ faithfully. Love, Bob Walkup | Moderator's Cross, given to John as the first moderator of the new Southwest Florida Union Presbytery
53: Global & Nobal, John & Olivia, Bob & Anne Thanks for being “together” with us through so many of life’s cares and celebrations. Your love, counsel, laughter, and tears have blessed us for many years. Happy Birthday, John— Your “Birthday Buddy” Anne
54: Roanoke, Virginia | I served with John at the First Presbyterian Church of Roanoke from 1985 – 1990. Many memorable moments, but I’ll share one general one, and one specific. My previous call had been as an Associate Pastor in another large congregation, with a Head of Staff who was, to put it generously, challenging to work for/with. I was only willing to be an Associate again if I thought I could work with someone who would show me how it was done well. That man was John LaMotte. His mentoring and example have enhanced my ministry one-hundredfold – particularly as a head of staff. His generosity with the pulpit – especially during the high holy days, which most associate pastors never get near – was watershed for me in terms of building a team ministry, as well as encouraging homiletical development. Because of John, colleagues on my team are treated and encouraged with the same respect and opportunity with which I was so blessed 25 years ago. Thanks for your great example John! The specific event? It was the Sunday following John’s bypass surgery. I announced that John had undergone a successful six-bypass surgery, and was doing well. As you know, First Roanoke was on the radio. An elderly woman called the office on Monday morning – and asked “I’m not sure how to say this – but I’m very concerned to hear that Dr. LaMotte has had a SEX-bypass surgery..” I have told that story more than a few times ;-) Blessings John. Your witness has been strong; your service faithful; and your leadership for me continues to bear much fruit in the lives of those with whom I now serve. Thanks be to God! In the joy and love of Christ, Don
55: Dear John, A valued friend of mine informed me that you will celebrate your 80th birthday in August and I wanted to extend my congratulations and best wishes for a wonderful and joyous birthday. I value your friendship and am glad to know that your health is good. As you may or may not know I lost my sweet Ethel to ovarian cancer in February 2009. May God bless you and my love to your sweet wife and children. I will celebrate my 93rd birthday in August also with children and grandchildren. Love, Lu
57: First of all, he’s the youngest looking 80-year old I have ever seen! Must be excellent genes. Secondly, John helped me through a very difficult period of my life and gave my children guidance when they needed it. For these things, I will always love him. And last, to illustrate John’s amazing stamina, I offer this story. He came to Roanoke from Black Mountain to perform my daughter Suzanne’s wedding. He and Olivia arrived on Thursday. On Friday, the day of the rehearsal, John called and very calmly reported that he was in the hospital with abdominal pains. Well, you ccan imagine the many thoughts and fears that went through my mind: John’s health, Suzanne’s wedding rehearsal, and SUZANNE’S WEDDING. After many suggestions, phone calls, and prayers, we found a replacement minister—a retired pastor to the groom’s family, who had planned on attending the wedding anyhow. If you know John well, then you know the replacement was only a ruse to allay our fears. He left the hospital a bit before noon on Saturday and performed the wedding ceremony at 2:00 p.m. You would never have guessed that in two days he would have his gall bladder removed. Happy Birthday and God bless you, John. I know there will be many more. Love, Liz Allison | Dear John (& Olivia also) Happy Birthday, John! How fast time goes by especially when one enjoys life so much. Thinking back to 1983 when our Search Committee visited you in Sarasota. Our group of 4 enjoyed your thoughts & hospitality. A Job well done as you brought your family to join us in Roanoke. Keep smiling, stay happy & most of all, stay healthy. Much love to you both, Scott & Beth McDonald
58: Dear John, Congratulations and many happy returns on your 80th birthday, an attained age much younger than it was before I became 70. Suzanne joins me in extending our best wishes. We have many happy memories of your ministry at Roanoke’s First Presbyterian, including the capital campaign we undertook—how many years ago? It doesn’t seem that long, but I guess it was. Hope you thoroughly enjoy your birthday and your book of memories. Sincerely, Dan Brown
59: HAPPY 80th BIRTHDAY, JOHN! from Scottie Cannon August 17, 2011 John, I first knew your dad, although only slightly, when I was at St. Andrews in the late 1960’s, so I felt a connection when I first learned about your moving to Roanoke under such very difficult circumstances somewhere around 1984. My parents were so fond of both of you, and were delighted when it worked out for you to buy their house in Christmont as they moved to Highland Farms. If my dad were alive, his tribute would be much more eloquent than mine could ever be, so I hope you can feel his loving support from beyond the divide. Here are some of the things I most appreciate about you: - Your very loving relationship with Olivia, clearly the love of your life! - Your dedication to Kiwanis and to the Thrift Shop, and your strong belief in the value of the volunteer focus there (I remember when you argued kindly with me about whether the Thrift Shop needed a paid volunteer coordinator!); - Your willingness to volunteer many times with Olivia at Room in the Inn as overnight volunteers –an exhausting and usually thankless job! - Your work over many years with the Biblical Perspectives class; - Your booming voice and moving prayers, wherever they are offered; - Your obvious love and constant support for all your family And I am especially grateful to you for your very moving contribution to my dad’s Memorial Service. I will never forget that. It has been an honor to know you here, to be a guest in your home on occasion, and to work with you in the church and community. I wish you and Olivia both many more years of health and happiness, and look forward to continuing to work with you both at church and Kiwanis. Tom is not home as I write this, but he would also send his love and best birthday wishes! And I could say the same for both Betsy and Lucy!
60: Wake Forest, North Carolina
61: Special blessings for your 80th! Enjoyed the pic sent by email. Y’all look great. Sure would love to see you. Life without Bob and his dynamic ways has left me with a huge gap but I am staying very busy. My sister and some college sorority sisters have joined me on some wonderful trips across the pond. I shall always remember how special it was to have you and Olivia get us started at WFPC. We were so grateful for your expertise, and please take credit for how we have evolved! Can’t believe we have been a church for 20 years! If the Raleigh area is ever a destination for you, would love to see you. Much love, Donna
62: Retirement and travel and interim ministry and... | The word that for us best describes John is hospitality. Deuteronomy 10:17-19 says: “You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” In Romans 12:12, Paul exhorts Christians to “extend hospitality to strangers.” John lives this scripture. We did not have any friends in Black Mountain, when we arrived here in December, 2008, but we loved the area and the strong Presbyterian presence here. John and Olivia were among the first to welcome us. They invited us to dinner at their house, introduced us to others, and welcomed us to their Sunday school class. Later John took Jim to Presbytery meetings. We are grateful to have them as friends. Jim and Nancy Poling
64: Oh our dear John LaMotte is going to be 80!! Would not the Galphin girls be so excited? I am still waiting on that book on prayer. I have never heard any one pray such beautiful prayers. I so remember when you thanked God for the cantaloupe. Wish you could see Joseph Hardee Drew. He is so special to us. He is one year old. Happy, Happy birthday and tons of love to both you and Olivia! Mary Tom and Joe Drew
65: Penguins are purple; lions bright green. John, O, John—we think you are keen. Zebras are turquoise; tigers are blue. John, O, John—Happy Birthday to you! with love from Chip and Barbara Crumley
66: John and Olivia have meant everything to us as we transitioned from South Carolina to Black Mountain almost seven (7) years ago! While active together at FPC Swannanoa we often ate out together after church. Maybe it was Summer ’05 John and Olivia invited us to come to Amelia Island, FL to share with them a house swap they arranged with the Sharps. We had such a delightful time visiting and touring Amelia Island, Olivia pointing out buildings relatives lived in or operated a business. John has been such a Godsend for Clarence in his dealing with Parkinson’s. Regularly John picks Clarence up for lectionary study on Tuesdays and takes him back to Highland Farms. I might add that John was very supportive of Clarence’s move to Highland Farms and had conversations with Clarence related to the necessity of such a transition. John encouraged Clarence to embrace the fact that such a move was needed both for Clarence and me, very difficult as it was. John’s not afraid to tackle the hard questions of life. He meets challenges head on with courage and conviction trusting God is present in the decision. John and Olivia’s thoughtfulness and sacrifice of self is without measure! As I write this, I just returned John’s “utility car” – the Subaru – which he so lovingly loaned me when our son Clay drove my car to Decatur, GA when our daughter-in-law and two grandchildren suddenly decided to stay in Black Mountain six more days. What a powerful gift that was! Just to be able to go water gardens around town or run to Ingles means so very much. I had my independence back! It is my privilege to serve on our Sunday School Class Biblical Perspectives Planning Committee which John so ably chairs. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, we go in with a clean slate and after 1 -- 2 hours we have planned a semester of programs and assigned folks to make contacts and report back to John. In conclusion, in all the countless ways John LaMotte is competent, gifted, and selfless, his friendship and unconditional love have meant everything to Clarence and me. No finer man has ever lived and served our Lord than our own John LaMotte. We love you with exceeding abundance! You have enriched our lives here in Black Mountain beyond any words we can speak. With great love and admiration, Clarence and Margaret Fouse | PS Let me not forget our Thursday evening meals together when we have finished our 4 hour Kiwanis Thrift Shop shift. John goes and picks Clarence up and takes him back to Highland Farms. What a gift to Clarence and me!
67: Dear John, We wish you a very Happy 80th Birthday! Although we are newcomers to your list of friends we certainly are glad to be included. You have been a joy and a blessing to us over the past three years. You and Olivia have welcomed us with open arms into the Christmount and Black Mountain Communities helping us overcome our apprehension about whether or not two oldsters could adjust to new surroundings. It is a pleasure to have you push us on, weekly, into scripture and exegesis when it would be so easy to let it slide comfortably by. How good to continue learning with a dear and committed brother in Christ. May God continue to bless you and your family with peace, grace and love. Affectionately, Susan & David | John LaMotte: the words and Word he has shared By Rev. Alex McLean Each Tuesday for the last two years I have gathered with John and a group of ministers for lectionary study. John leads the group. Each week he prepares a page worth of summary on the reading from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Gospels, and the New Testament Epistles. He brings with him a study bible and a Greek New Testament that has seen a lot of use. He leads our group in discussion, and does a brilliant job of it. He covers the great themes of the bible as well as the details of individual words in their original languages. He has brought the text of our sacred scripture alive in a way I haven't experienced before. I am deeply indebted to his erudition, and my own sermons and bible studies are proof positive of that. He has been a mentor and a friend to me, and has helped not only with exegesis but with the privilege and responsibility of pastoring a church here in the Swannanoa Valley. I am impressed with his energy level, and his volunteer spirit (as I know of a number of his activities in the area through our mutual membership in Kiwanis). John is a picture of learning, vitality, and compassion. I wish him all the best on his 80th birthday, and look forward to more Tuesday afternoons studying the sacred texts of the Christian faith. | In our Tuesday lectionary discussion group we count on John to offer new insights into those Scripture passages we have been preaching on for years. John never disappoints. His wisdom, humor, and personal stories carry us into the biblical story and stimulate lively discussion. I always feel a little wiser on Tuesday evenings. Thank you John and Happy 80th!. Grace and peace, Bill Heck
68: Dear John, You and Olivia were two of the reasons we so enjoyed our twelve years in Black Mountain. If we recall correctly, it was Bob Smith of the Board of Pensions who brought the four of us together over lunch in Black Mountain. And that was the beginning of a wonderful friendship. We soon discovered that we had so much in common. Both of us served churches in Florida where we followed a “Dr. Mac”; our “Manses” were torn down shortly after we left Florida; Olivia and Nancy both claim October 28th as their birthday; and John and David were both born in the summer of 1931! We got to meet your remarkable family, and enjoyed dinners together in our respective homes, with mutual friends, as well as in Black Mountain restaurants. Then there was the time one winter when you and Olivia so graciously hosted us (and Jane and Bob Collins) over night in Fernandina Beach when we were on our way to Vero Beach for a visit. Have you EVER dared to return to that restaurant??? We have so many happy memories of times shared—many serious discussions, and lots of laughs! John, may your birthday celebration be one of great joy, and may you and Olivia be blessed with many more years of good health, happiness, and service to church and community. Our special love! Nancy & David
69: Happy 80th, John!! We are thankful for you in so many ways! To name a few, you were smart enough to marry Olivia, your brilliant, beautiful, multi-gifted wife. You heeded the call of God to serve Him with all your heart, mind, body and spirit. As a result, thousands everywhere have been blessed, starting with your outstanding family of several generations and including many congregations and communities. We have enjoyed your friendship and following your sensitive and fruitful ministries...all the way to Florida and here in Black Mountain. Thank you for being you! Have a very special celebration of 80 years of living! With His love and ours, Joan and Jey
70: Here is a picture I have of him showing his money collection to my class. He brought this in prior to a unit I taught about our currency. As you know he came in every week to work with my students. Sometimes he brought items from home to introduce units we were going to learn about and other times he mentored students that had a hard homelife. He read with students, played games with them and was an adult role model. He came every Thursday and the kids knew when they walked in the door Thursday morning that he would be there and they couldn't wait to find out who would get to work with him and what they would be doing. After a few weeks the students started keeping track of who had worked with him and the number of times because they all wanted their fair share of time with him. I think you can tell from the cards how much the children cherished their time with him. He was also very kind and loving towards me. He was always telling me I was a good teacher and lifting my spirits. You are very lucky to have him as a father and we were extremely lucky to have him in our classroom! - Christen | I love every singl collection of yours. There all my favrite things. | PS My favorite shell is the conch shell | Thank you foor teeching us and plaeing wit us.
71: You are a cool dude. Love, your best friend | Are you going to be her is 3d grade? yes no | I hope you have the mostest, mostest, mostest, mostest, and mostest summer ever in the hole world. | Thank you for your pashentes with me. | It was spectachuler wene you played chess with me.
72: Birthday Celebration at Holden Beach
77: ...and many more...
78: Certain faces, a few, one or two—or one face photographed by recollection— to my mind, to my sight must remain a delight Marianne Moore
83: Thanking God for you on your special day and asking Him to fill your life with sweet reminders of His refreshing love. With love and appreciation, Priscilla
84: Bad Kreuznach, Germany, Aug 3, 2011 Dear John LaMotte! The news have even reached Europe and the Europeans, and although I cannot speak on behalf of all of them, I am extending warmest greetings and best wishes from a sizeable number of the nice Europeans - the large Fuhr family –from all that have come to know you, John, starting with my mother (87), over several of my siblings, and, of course, my five children, David, Tobias, Hannah, Jonas, and Benjamin. With great delight we remember several of our mutual visits, the ones when Olivia and you came to see us – Rheinboellen, Bad Kreuznach, including tours to Berlin and Alsace ...just as our visits with you in Florida and Montreat. Our acquaintance came about through Susan. When I got to know Susan Vaught, I learnt very early that she had indeed two families, and it has been your family that helped her in finding her way personally and professionally. I was lucky to be included in your friendship, and I myself benefitted from what she received and learnt from you. Thank you for staying in touch and visiting during the last years, indeed days, of her illness. Our daughter Hannah not only uttered her first recognizable words in your Sarasota home ("Bye, John“, echoing Olivia) but also was lucky to be a student at Davidson with your kind help. The Fuhr part of her inherited character made her linger, think and re-consider what she wanted to do with her life; but now, as you will know, she seems to have found her place in medicine, is learning with great enthusiasm. Hannah came to my mind because I remember Susan often saying that medicine would have been the alternative choice had it not been theology. So, I know she would be proud and glad. What is it that we find so likeable about you? A detail may express the whole; it impressed everybody (particularly since we were familiar with other travellers from the US) that Olivia and you travelled lightly – one piece of luggage was sufficient, and this showed –and allowed for - mobility and flexibility. I have come to know you as inviting and accepting, always supportive and helpful, solidly grounded and yet with a wide horizon in your thinking, calm and unassuming and yet forceful and, of course, with a very pleasant sense of humor. We haven't met in the past five years, but somehow I cannot imagine that you changed one bit now that supposedly you turn 80. May the good shepherd continue to take good care of one of his trustworthy under-shepherds, blessing you with good health, with cheerful mind and soul, keeping you with your dear Olivia and family – and may he grant you to keep travelling lightly, always. And now imagine all the Fuhrs singing their family birthday chorus to you! "Viel Glueck und viel Segen / auf all deinen Wegen / ein dankbares Herze / das schenke dir Gott!“ Yours, Michael
85: Von guten Machten wunderbar geborgen, erwarten wir getrost was kommen mag. Gott ist bei uns am Abend und am Morgen und ganz bewiB an jeden neuen Tag. Dear John, I'm not a poetic translator but this verse from a poem by Bonhoeffer I find so strong and so encouraging that I want to send it to you in spite of the poor translation as part of my good wishes to your birthday this week. I hope that it will be a joyful day. Susan, 12 Aug 94 | From good powers wonderfully hidden we await comforted all that comes. God is with us evenings and mornings and very certainly on each new day.
86: How grateful I am to God for this life that we share . All my love, Olivia
87: For all that has been, thank you. For all that is to come, yes. Dag Hammarskjold