Dear Charity & Children readers and friends, it is with great sadness that I inform you of the death of Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) staff member Jennie Counts. She died suddenly on January 5. Jennie was a long-time and deeply loved and trusted friend/colleague/employee/confidant. She joined the staff of the president’s office on November 30, 1987 in a full-time position. As much as anyone, she encouraged me in my early years as president. She and her husband Howard were always available for wise counsel and personal and professional assistance.
She retired from her full-time position as Executive Vice President of Executive Administration in 2006 but, after three years, rejoined my staff (part-time) as Director of Presidential Projects. It was my honor to participate in Jennie’s funeral services held Saturday, January 14. I am sharing portions of the eulogy I delivered as this month’s column: “Jennie Counts was many things to many people: wife, mother, teacher (Master teacher of Sunday school and biweekly Bible studies for over 50 years), counsellor, confidante, author, encourager, leader, entrepreneur, public speaker, promoter, ‘perfect in her kindness,’ generous, mentor, deep thinker, adventurer, luminous, compassionate, sophisticated, authentic, intentional, warm, affectionate, champion, cheerleader, inspirational, uplifting, peace maker, empathetic, listener, classy, and one who possessed the gifts of discernment and hospitality.
“These are real words from real people. I wrote a group of her BCH colleagues in preparation for today and got these responses from
them. I know others could add their own words or phrases or paragraphs, or chapters or short stories or an entire book. That’s the impact that Jennie Counts had on people. You just enjoyed
being around her. But woven throughout all these words of affirmation was one that is the bedrock of everything else. Jennie Counts was FRIEND with a Capital F. Dependable Friend. Available
Friend. Trusted Friend. “And she loved her friends. She drew strength from them. And she did not like it when she could not be with her friends. ‘I haven’t seen my friends in such a long time,’ she
The Pandemic took a toll on those breakfast and lunch meetings with friends in Thomasville, Danville, Greensboro, High Point. “But, then, on certain bright, bright, sunshiny days, she would meet with her friends and laugh and hug and share good times. We were among those friends who received the blessing when were in her presence and she smiled and prayed. And, oh my, could she pray! “Jennie and Howard, her husband of 55 years, faced the darkest of dark moments when their first-born son, James Counts, passed way. I knew Jim well. He was brilliant in so many ways. He had established deep roots and relationships in the London area. They, too, were family. David lost his big brother. And David became a rock for his parents. “If you knew Jennie well, you may have been on the receiving end of written words from her.
A handwritten letter or note of encouragement a birthday greeting, a thank you note. She would even write a thank you note thanking people for their thank you note. I know her friends have
clung to those notes and reread them, finding encouragement.
“Jennie Counts had a symbol. She was never without that symbol. It was a VIOLIN. A violin pin or bracelet or necklace. She wore a violin every day. A reporter once did a story on Jennie and asked
her about her Violin Pin. She replied, it represents Music. Music to live by. Music to celebrate. Music to be played. She believed that we should all play our music before the music ended. She would encourage you to do the same. Play your music before the music is over. She would want each of us to celebrate life, for life is a gift. “And during this time of loss, this is what we celebrate—the Life and the Legacy of Jennie Counts.
Knowing that one day, when our own Music on Earth is done, we shall join that Heavenly Choir where Jennie now plays her
music once again.“What a day of rejoicing that will be, when our dear friend Jennie we will see. When the gates of Heaven open wide and we see Jennie and Jim with Jesus, welcoming us to eternity and we shall join them in singing that sweet, sweet hymn—what a day of rejoicing that will be...
“Jennie Lynn Beal Counts, December 1, 1943 to January 5, 2023. So long for now, dear Friend. We’ll see you again.”
Jennie Counts Eulogy
Saturday, January 14, 2023
Please be in prayer for Howard and David Counts. My staff in the president’s office are still wounded. We are feeling this loss deeply and personally. Jennie Counts was one of a kind. Her compassionate presence and vibrant personality is deeply missed by those who knew her. Weeks have passed, but I know Howard Counts would value your card or letter. You can contact him by mail at 251 N. Creekside Dr. High Point, NC 27265.
Written by Michael C. Blackwell, President/CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer)