Last night on December 6, 2009 at 11:24 PM the inn’s builder, Brad Slocum, left behind his weary body and took to the skies. He joined the ranks of the angels and his Savior whom he loved and served faithfully.
Personally, I do not know of a man who I could trust more than Brad. We were classmates together in university, employed at the same place as married students, went to the same church and our wives worked together as leaders in the Student Wives’ Fellowship. After varied careers we both ended up back at the same place. How often does that happen in life?
Brad always sought out summer work as a faculty member serving at Bob Jones University. He tried to devote some time towards a mission trip, usually at a Christian camp, during the summers where he could show his students how to serve others. In the summer of 2004, I asked Brad if he could help build a small house which we later deemed as the “Carriage House”. In mid June, he came back with his crew of students from a mission trip to a camp in northern Saskatchewan and turned right around and drove all the way out to Washington with his family (my truck with his tool trailer) and three students, spending 6 weeks roughing in the Carriage House. That winter, during the Christmas break, he returned with his entire family and trimmed it out. Brad’s craftsmanship is a hallmark of that building. The staircase involved detailed calculations and cuttings that he enjoyed seeing to fruition.
Two years later, Brad came to me after several preliminary discussions about building a B&B inn on our Washington property. He told me that he had found the perfect crew, and it was his dream to build the inn. I hadn’t planned to build it until the following year, but decided that we could go ahead and make the commitment. He was excited about the challenge and we spent time together, working out the details on this complex project, a replica of George Washington’s home – Mount Vernon.
Brad once again took Cheryl, his wife, and their youngest son and drove completely across the country with truck and trailer in tow. He spent 12 incredible weeks with his crew of 6 students and transformed an oceanfront hayfield into the “talk” of the neighborhood. From a dusty field, a magnificent building was carefully constructed which today attracts people from all over the world. Cheryl cooked for the entire crew during that time. They worked together as a knit group, accomplishing even more than anticipated. Our early morning updates and planning sessions over the cell phone were always a time of excitement, at least on my part…the 3 hour time difference made it early out there! I don’t recall any issue of miscommunication or dispute. Brad was a man of his word. One nearby resident stated that he had never seen a crew work so well together. This neighbor would sometimes come by just to watch them all work. Two of Brad’s students stayed on to finish the inn.
Brad and Cheryl were invited back to be a part of the inn’s Grand Opening during President’s Day weekend in February, 2008. They were like family and kept a real sense of humor in the midst of an overwhelming grand opening experience. After the crowds subsided that evening we sat around the table and Brad’s hearty laughter filled the room as we recalled the experiences of that special day and over the years that we had built our friendship.
Over this past year Brad Slocum, with his faithful wife and true help-meet Cheryl at his side, suffered through the ravages of his fatal illness that took him across the valley of death. He is no longer a prisoner in his earthly body, but is singing in a heavenly choir with his signature bass voice and hearty barrel laugh…and I can only imagine he’s looking for a hammer! I’m sure he’s found his former student, Peter Smith, who worked with him that summer and completed the inn. I can imagine both of them looking down from the ramparts of Heaven on the inn, a part of their legacy that continues on.
Above the sarcophagus holding the mortal remains of George Washington at Mount Vernon, you will find the following scriptural passage on the wall: “I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” (John 11:25,26). Brad Slocum knows the reality of that promise now.