Undiscovered Pillars of San Antonio: Mr.Willie B. Tober

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As my family and I pulled up to my parents house one Saturday afternoon, we noticed our neighbor cutting the grass. I stared and watched in awe, I couldn’t wait to get my camera. You are probably thinking what is so special about someone cutting the grass. It is more than special, it is an inspiration. He is 92 years old and has the strength, the will, the energy and health to push a lawn mower all day in the hot and humid weather of San Antonio. As we got off the car, I told my husband to take the baby inside and that I would be right back. I got my camera and walked over to his house. I had a calling I had to fulfill at that moment. I was so moved by this 92 year old man who he and his family had been a part of our lives ever since I was 4 years old when we moved in next door. I had known him but not his story, the story of WHAT, what kept him going so strong all these years.

So I walk up to his back yard gate and as always he greets me with a hug and a kiss. He opens the gate and I asked if I could take some pictures of him. I wanted one of him next to his lawn mower. The lawn mower was proped on it’s side on top of a ramped table where I assumed he was working on after a day of cutting the grass. He lowered this heavy mower as if it were no big deal . He posed proudly next to his mower, his potted plants and his garden he tends himself. His name is Mr. Tober, as my family has always called him. Mr. Willie B. Tober, husband of Frances Tober.

As we finished the pictures I asked him, so what is it that keeps you going strong at 92 years old? His reply instantly put a knot in my throat and tears in my eyes. He said, “El Viejito arriba” and pointed up as he choked up in tears himself. THen he stopped and chuckled and finished his reply, “El Viejitio arriba y la viejita a qui abajo”, pointing to his house where his wife was cooking inside. His face lit up as he talked of her. He said Mrs. Tober’s good cooking contributed to his youth and a homemade soup he makes himself to eat for breakfast every morning. He said that hard work is the key to keeping you strong. There is a 1400ft fence around his house and it was put up by Mr. Tober himself when he was 80 years old. He dug the holes, put the cement and had his wife held the posts as he put it up.

This fence represented his life and was a piece of hardworking evidence that brings hope and inspiration to my community. He is like this fence. Made by his own strength, the will of God and the help of his wife. It stands tall, as it protects his home and family. Has the strength to withstand the weathering circumstances of life, stretches long as do the years he has lived and is posted up close to his family as his daughters are his neighbors. It provides privacy to the world but still allows you to enjoy the beautiful plants of his life and he is the only one that has the key to unlock who enters his home. When he unlocks it you are welcomed and always greeted like family. Mr. & Mrs. Tober are a beautiful inspiration of love, devotion, God, hardwork, laughter, good food, family, true epitome of the commandment to honor thy neighbor and a role-model to everyone.

Mr. Tober wears a belt that support his back since he has always suffered from back pain. He told me stories how he suffered from this pain and how it had even bounded him to his bed for 6 months. One story in particular talked about him being prayed over at church to help him heal his back. He had the hand of one of the church members touching his back as they prayed over him. He felt someone working on his back, massaging it, so he looked back but the man had already walked away. Tears streamed down his faced as he told this story because he knew in his heart that it was the hand of God working in him to heal his pain. At that moment his pain was gone and he had his strength back. He asked the next day if there was a prayer group he can join because he believed in prayer and the power it has to heal. Mr. Tober was a member of that prayer group for 17 years.

God was at the center of his heart and it shined so brightly that I knew he wanted me to know his faith was the reason for his life well lived. He pointed to a tree that I remember as a child that provided shade for the men who gathered there to sit and talk including my dad. He said, you see that tree? I use to sit at the tree and drink beer all day and smoke. When I became devoted to God I quit all of it and was a changed man for the better. He wanted me to see how he was only human as well but that anyone can change at anytime and how it gave him youth to be a man of God. His back pain would come back to haunt him, this time for one whole year. He asked his doctor what else he can do and his Doctor’s advice was just to pray. So he did. After a year of not being able to walk he woke up one day to find he had strength. He got on his feet and walked. Today you see Mr. Tober cutting his grass, moving his plants around and just keeping busy at the young age of 92. It was the best visit with him I ever had and I am so glad I didn’t just look at him in awe but that I went over to talk with him and spend time listening to his story.

The day after my interview with Mr. Tober it was Sunday and we attended church, LifePoint. Pastor Danny’s  sermon was on the story of Martha calling on Jesus to come visit his good friend Lazarus who was greatly ill. Jesus delayed in coming and Lazarus died. Martha was upset because Jesus did not come on time and believes that he would have lived if Jesus came to visit sooner. Jesus told her,I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26. He then went to visit Lazarus lifeless body and looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” John 11:41-42. I believe Mr. Tober’s secret to living his life to it’s fullest is simply his faith in God. He believes in Him and has truly lived and in a sense, will never die. His commitment to prayer has proved God is always on time, his Father has heard him and has delivered. Jesus then called to Lazarus to come out and there is where he performed the resurrection of his friend. As we sometimes pray to Jesus and feel that he wasn’t on time or has answered us as Martha did but we need to hold the same faith as my neighbor and believe that you to will be resurrected to live a life full of eternal joy.

He is a pillar of this community that stands tall, provides strength to this city and will forever be a part of the foundation that makes history in San Antonio.
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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Juana Garay says:

    This story touched my heart. Mr. Tober reminds me so much of my grandmother. God Bless him 😉

  2. olga duran says:

    Que Dios los Bendiga…por muchos anos mas..a tu vecino ..y a ti por poner estos blog////

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