Big Sandy, Texas, Long Time Friends and a Painting

This might be a long story, and somewhat personal, but here goes….

I just returned from a week long trip visiting my parents in Big Sandy, Texas. I previously had lived there 15 years from the time I was thirteen years of age, and left in 1978. Big Sandy has been of note lately primarily because Lovie Smith, head coach of the Chicago Bears grew up there…and no, to all you Bears fans, I didn’t know him as we went to different schools and were not quite contemporary.

My father, a minister, college professor, executive director of an international charity organization, among many other things, also lived there off and on over the years. When he retired, or at least semi-retired from the ministry, my parents eventually returned and settled there close to where my sister lives. For them, it is a relatively inexpensive place to live and many friends are still in the area.

We visited them last August to celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary. I decided to go back solo this time just to spend some time with them and chew up some frequent flyer miles.

Several months ago, the church my father attends, and occasionally speaks, approached me about donating a painting to hang in the church building which was currently under construction. All the church officials and many of the congregation are long time friends of mine.

I don’t readily advertise it, but I am regularly asked to donate paintings for charity and non-profit fund raising, and I generally oblige to those I am acquainted. Usually it is a small painting they can auction off to raise money for some good cause. In the case of this donation, after some exchanging of emails, they wanted a large painting in the entry way. It wasn’t too hard for me to agree and I sent them photos of 3 or 4 paintings which I thought might work. Out of the lot, they readily chose my first recommendation, which turned out to be a 40×30 canvas of Cascade Canyon in Teton National Park.

This little story finally gets to the point of this post. The church sponsored an informal reception in my honor in the new church building to unveil the painting. The event was last Tuesday, and to my surprise probably 50 people attended, many of them long time friends, and some I had not seen in years. Among the attendees was Wiley Black, my high school English teacher, but also an artist. He encouraged my artistic endeavors at a young age and I attribute much of my early interest in art to him. Below are some pictures of the reception.

I gave a little talk before the unveiling.


My parents did the actual unveiling of the painting.


My parents and me.


Wiley Black, my high school English teacher and art mentor.


I could not have imagined a better home for “Cascade Canyon” and hope the congregation enjoys it for years to come.

1 thought on “Big Sandy, Texas, Long Time Friends and a Painting”

  1. Don,

    Great painting. My wife and I are Hudson River School fans and we like Bierstadt paintings. I see the similarity in style and like your painting a lot. When I knew you at Big Sandy, I had no idea you were a painter!

    Wish you the best.

    Bill Linton
    213 Block House Rd
    Greenville, SC 29615

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