I didn’t know George Yocum very well.
In my three years here in Springfield, I often would visit the Washington County Courthouse to cover a fiscal court meeting or get court records about a case I might be writing about for the paper, and I often saw him there. George worked at the courthouse, and he was a familiar face to all who visited, whether they knew him or not. Any time I saw him, I knew he was going to speak to me, although I still thought of him as being a quiet person. I came to learn that if I wanted to talk with George, all I had to do was mention the University of Louisville, and he was more than willing to carry the conversation on for some time.
Most of what I came to know about George, I didn’t learn from him, but others who knew him better than I ever did. George and I never had a deep conversation, but usually just shared a passing hello, and occasionally chatted a bit about basketball.
I have learned that George was a God-fearing man. I have heard it from those with whom he attended church, and I saw his interest in God’s word recently. I recall seeing him sit in one of the chairs positioned in front of the courthouse during this year’s Bible-reading marathon, just listening. He sat there for what must have been at least 30 minutes, and then the next time I looked up, he was gone.
I also learned of George’s faith myself shortly after that while talking to him in front of the courthouse. I had heard that George had been sick, but not from George. He never complained about his illness when I saw him, but he was very sick, and although I had no way of knowing it, his life was nearing an end.
In our last conversation, I asked George how he was doing, and told him that I was sorry to hear he wasn’t feeling well. I had no idea how sick he actually was at the time. I remember what George said, not exactly verbatim, but he made a comment to the effect that he was just “leaving everything to the Lord.” He added that that was all he could do. That was the last time I ever talked to him.
George went to be with the Lord Friday evening, losing a short battle with cancer.
At George’s funeral visitation, his familiar bicycle was parked near the end of his casket, and his backpack was hanging from the bike. It made me think of times I had seen George on that bike before I ever got to know him at all, and it made me smile.
As I have said, I didn’t know George well. Still, like many people who worked in and around the courthouse, or even those who just passed by and saw George at work, I feel as if I’ve lost a friend.