Half Two Dedication
by Wes Wick
IN MY MID-TWENTIES and newly engaged, I was driving from San Francisco to Southern California with my soon-to-be father-in-law Don Popineau and family friend Stewart Novarro.
We were returning from a weekend missions trip to San Francisco’s inner city. I had sprawled out in the back seat, trying to catch up on sleep lost to blaring police sirens the night before. Don and Stewart were talking, and my sleepy ears awoke to their spirited conversation. Don, recently retired from his house-painting career, contemplated an invitation from the San Francisco pastor.
“Mel Johnson wants me to join his pastoral staff,” Don confided. “And I’m seriously thinking about saying yes.”
Unprepared for this kind of radical upheaval from an early fifties layman, retired and seemingly so firmly rooted in Southern California, I was astounded. In my mind, ‘older’ adults don’t leave the security of their suburban homes to minister in a rundown and drug-infested area of San Francisco. Certainly, I thought, he would come to his senses.
Or I would come to mine.
Don was a seasoned follower of Jesus who knew that his early retirement from a successful painting career was not a free pass to a self-absorbed life of leisure. Yes, he had a newfound sense of freedom, but he also fervently sought to live his life so that it counted for the kingdom.
Over the next months, he moved into a humble dormitory apartment, completed studies for his ministerial credentials, and began serving as a pastor at Glad Tidings Temple in San Francisco. After our June wedding in Southern California, my mother-in-law Peggy joined him. They rented out their Southern California home and leased a flat in San Francisco.
Over the next three and a half decades, I’ve had a front row seat to observe how spiritually fruitful life’s second half can be as I have watched my father-in-law serve in San Francisco; plant a church in Southern California; complete numerous projects at a Christian college on the Central Coast of California; manage, upgrade, and re-sell apartment complexes; avidly read, study, and teach God’s Word; offer poignant advice to ministers, friends, and family; and just plain “genuinely care for people.”
Even at the time of this writing, at 89, ‘Papa’ Don makes twice weekly visits to Life Pacific, a Christian college two miles from his home, to encourage and pray with students at their chapel services—something he has done throughout his eighties.
Thank you, Don Popineau, for being a living epistle of Christ. I’ve had the privilege of knowing you only on your plus side of fifty. Your first half of life was also an incredible adventure, but thank you for showing so many others and me how fruitful Half Two can be. It’s with great joy and honor that I dedicate this book to you, Papa Don.
I want to be like you when I grow up.