How It All Started
“I was an announcer for the WMBI radio station (Moody Bible Institute), and was doing a daily radio program, Hymns From the Chapel,” remembers Shea. “Bill was a Wheaton College student at the time, and he heard my program. He came into meet me and thank me for the program. We’ve been friends ever since that day in 1943.”
This special friendship is still going very strong. “I talk to him pretty often and I went up to see him a couple of weeks ago,” said Shea.
101st Year in Review
He might be slowing down, but he certainly hasn’t stopped since his 100th birthday, having accompanied Franklin Graham on two Festivals and Will Graham on a Celebration.
He also visited prisoners in the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola in the fall of 2009 and presented them with an organ to play during their chapel services. “The organ I gave them was presented to me by Franklin at my 100th birthday party at The Cove,” said Shea. “He told me this would be mine until the day I died. Later, I told him I was ‘dying’ for it to go now!”
So, with his wife and renowned pianist John Inness, he traveled to the prison and presented the special gift.
Throughout the year, he continued his tradition of joining his friend Cliff Barrows at the Senior Celebration programs at the Cove. “It’s amazing how people will come from far places to this event. They always let me sit up on stage, give me a microphone, and I do the best I can,” laughs Shea.
In December, he visited and performed at Charlotte’s First Baptist Church with Tom Bledsoe, who directs the Christmas at The Cove programs, and a 2,000-person choir. “It was a wonderful choir and a wonderful time.”
“I can’t travel like I used to, but I want to thank the Lord for having the measure of strength I do have,” said Shea. “For as long as I live, I want the Lord to use me however He wants.”