At church everyone loved Billy Coker, especially the junior high girls. I was one of those girls. Miss Levy taught Junior Church and Billy led the music. A former missionary, Miss Levy was a good teacher. But I paid more attention to Billy, four years older than me. All eyes were on our song leader as we practiced special choir numbers.
Billy also led the song service for evening worship which followed our youth group meetings. The congregation chose several songs, calling out numbers from The Cokesbury Worship Hymnal. More than once a young boy shouted from the back of the sanctuary, “Number 216.” We didn’t have to look, for we knew it was “There’s a Song in the Air,” a Christmas carol. Billy allowed the selection, even out of season.
Because he was respected, my parents allowed Billy to visit and take me out, mainly to the neighborhood theater. To get to my house he would ride the bus to a main road and walk past numerous bars. We would then walk several blocks to the movie. Frequently on Saturdays, Billy would come for lunch and spend time with my family. He played practical jokes on my dad and siblings. Once he placed a tiny set of false teeth in the container where Daddy kept his false plate. Daddy had to phone to find out where Billy had hidden his true set.
When people ask me how I met my husband, I tell them that Bill was my Junior Church choir director. Bill smirks, because that sounds like the distance between our ages is more than it is. Years later and to my delight, I would stand in our small-town church and follow the song leader as he led worship and then preach. From Junior Church to lead pastor, he still has my full attention.