24 Jan

I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.

Abraham Lincoln said that. I am not sure who he was referring to or what the circumstances were but I can’t help but thinking that if Old Abe had lived in Johnson County in the 21st century, he would have been referring to Harold Dan “Cass” Casstevens when he said those words.
Cass was dubbed the “mayor of Lillian” by my predecessor, Larry Cochran, and it was a title well deserved. 
Cass, as most of you know, grew up in this area and he developed a deep love for it early on. Even when he moved to Georgia to work for Armor and company, it was always in his heart to return to Lillian. He moved from Georgia, to Corpus Christi, to Fort Worth, then back to Corpus. The whole time, there were two things he really wished he could do. He wanted to get back to the Lillian/Alvarado area and he wanted to run his own business. Finally, in the late 60’s, Melvin Jackson announced plans to sell his convenience store and the rest is history.
“Casstevens Cash and Carry” was and (though he has not owned it in a number of years) still is a centerpiece of the Lillian community. Everyone who lives in this community frequents it at least once a week and some on a daily basis. It is faster than CNN or Fox News or the Associated Press when it comes to a source for community news. News there is always available and easily distributed without any worry about accuracy. When you think Lillian, you think “Casstevens Cash and Carry”. They are synonymous.
And that was because of Cass. The man never met a stranger, never had a harsh word to say about anyone, and always greeted everyone that came in the store.
And that wasn’t the only way he made his mark on the community. If there was a concern in Lillian, he was there to help address it. I would find him at the Fire Department, at the County Commissioners office, at community wide meetings. When the storm tore up Pleasant Point Cemetery, Cass was there. When the Fire Department had their annual appreciation banquets, Cass was there. 
One of my favorite writers is a man named John Maxwell. In one of his books on leadership, he talks about “The Law of Influence”. He says that “true leadership is influence.. nothing more, nothing less”. 
In my mind, Cass embodied the law of influence. He never served on a city council, never held a public or political office, never wrote a book or song. But when people in leadership wanted to know what people in this area thought about a particular issue, it was Cass they called. When an opinion needed to be voiced, it was Cass that was tapped as the spokesperson. He was a person who commanded respect simply because he was honest in his character and genuine in his love for Lillian.
A family man. A community man. That was Cass. But today, that is not where I find comfort on the passing of my friend, Harold Casstevens.
Cass wrote out his plans for his funeral. He wrote about the type of music, the pallbearers, who was to preach the service, who was to play the piano, everything.  In those notes, he wrote that the verse he wanted used was John 3:16.
You probably know that verse:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believed in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Underneath this verse, Cass wrote “I can quote it and I depend on what it says”.
You see.. if Cass knew nothing else, he knew Jesus. And friends, that was enough. He knew that He could not make it to Heaven without a relationship with Jesus Christ. He knew that loving his family was not going to get him there. Loving his community was not going to get him there. But Jesus would!
He committed his life to Jesus early on in life and was baptised at First Baptist Church of Lillian.
And it is for that reason that today, we grieve but not as ones without hope.
I will miss Cass but because of Jesus, I will see him again someday. I don’t know if there is barbecue in Heaven but if there is, I know who’s cooking i


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