This morning I returned to the office.  Plowing through email.  Talking with colleagues.  A couple meetings.  Near the end of the day I checked the Army’s online bulletin board.  Major Beverly Collet.  Promoted to glory.

Major Collet retired a few years ago after forty-two years of service as a Salvation Army officer.  She grew up in a Highland Park different than what it now is.   Went to the Training College and was sent back, starting her ministry in Hazel Park.  Virtually all of her service was in Detroit.  Grandale.  Harding.  The Detroit Children’s Home.  She saw Detroit go through riots and decline.  Stuck with it.  Helped young people and families.

As a clueless cadet I remember meeting Major Collet in 1979.  ‘ouch’ I thought.  You wouldn’t suspect the Major of coddling anyone.

In later years, near and soon after her retirement, I found a listening Major Collet, sharing wisdom in measured tones.  Bev’s insight and advice resonated.  Those of us who have served in the Army’s equivalent of the French Foreign Legion struggle at times to share about our ministry in inner cities.  It’s hard to make sense to people when they haven’t been there.  Time in Detroit qualifies one to wear a kepi.

The Major’s funeral was last week.  In metro Detroit.  Her body is buried there, too.  I guess that she and those who knew her best felt it as good a place until the day Detroit and all places are made new.

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