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Eldon Wesley Booker
Wesley was born June 25, 1951, in San Saba, Texas, the second son of Eldon S. Booker and Ruth Hatcher Booker. He was baptized into Christ by the Christadelphians of Lampasas, Texas, on June 28, 1970, and remained faithful to the gospel for the remainder of his life. He fell asleep in the hope of the resurrection, in Austin, on December 4, 2013, at the age of 62.
Wesley was married to Mary Ellen Miller in 1976. He has two children, Elizabeth Ruth Booker Hudson (of Austin) and Daniel Thomas Booker (of Oakland, California), who survive him. Wesley is also survived by his brother George Booker, his sister-in-law Barbara Booker, and his nephew Adam Booker, along with Adam's wife Wallesha and their daughter Miriam (all of Austin). He will be remembered with love and fondness by many others, both in Austin and around the world, whom he touched by his preaching and practicing his Bible-based faith.
In 1974, Wesley graduated from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) in San Marcos. For almost 30 years he taught school, mainly in the Round Rock ISD and mostly fifth-graders. He often said that teaching 11 and 12-year-old students helped him develop his method of teaching people of all ages, by the simplest means possible. He developed the facility of making difficult subjects easy to grasp, following the principle that you can teach anyone almost anything if you make it as simple as possible, but no simpler.
Many of his summer vacations were spent training young Christadelphians how to present the gospel message to others, while leading them in the "Truth Corps" program -- putting what they were learning into practice by teaching vacation Bible schools and talking to interested friends and family about the Bible and its simple message. Many of the graduates of that program returned to their homes in North America and elsewhere, to continue the work of teaching Sunday school and outreach to others.
Wesley had an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the Bible, quoting verses practically at will, and invariably relating each verse to its immediate context without the need to consult his Bible. Even though he taught a simple Bible message, his eagerness to learn more about the Bible made him quite capable of carrying on more detailed and advanced discussions about its message and teachings. In 1985, Wesley entered a national Bible knowledge competition, in which he won a regional competition. Out of quite a number of competitors at the national tournament in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he placed second. The winner, after talking with Wesley for a while, admitted that he envied Wesley's good knowledge of the Bible and its message -- whereas his own knowledge (aided by what he called a photographic memory) was confined to facts without practical application.
In characteristic fashion, Wesley then donated his prize money to a couple of Christadelphian charities.
After his retirement from teaching, Wesley devoted himself to preaching and teaching the Bible in various places, along with pastoral work and some prison ministry. Many Christadelphians throughout the United States and Canada met Wesley and became his friends during that time.
While in Austin, Wesley served as a volunteer delivering meals for Meals on Wheels. He also used his ability to teach in various ways. He was an expert tennis player, and he often coached young people in the sport. In later years he taught retired folks to play bridge at the senior center in south Austin. In addition to his natural family and his faith-based family of Christadelphians, he had what might be called his "tennis" family (with whom he played regularly until the last few months), as well as his "bridge" family (with whom he also played regularly). While a strong competitor in all sports and games, who won much more often than he lost, he was a gracious and humble person, without pretense, of whom many people speak well and absolutely no one speaks ill.
Wesley was in practically perfect health for his entire life, and the brain tumor (a glioblastoma multiforme) which took him came on suddenly and without warning. His illness, while not lingering, did take away his wonderful mind over the course of several months, step by painful step. As long as he could, however, Wesley read his old Bible, well-marked with his own comments and cross-references, while taking time to watch his beloved Atlanta Braves in the baseball playoffs. He died in the sure hope of the return of Jesus Christ to this earth, to raise and judge the dead and to establish God's kingdom. He will be laid to rest at the Johnson Family Cemetery in Stonewall, Texas, alongside his father and mother, and near his grandmother and his great-grandparents.
Those who would like to donate to a charity in Wesley's name may send their contributions to: Agape in Action -- U.S., 521 Valmont Drive, Monrovia, CA 91016. Agape in Action builds and operates homes and schools for orphaned and poor children in Africa and India.