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GOD AT THE CENTER: Phoenix Version

I opened my email inbox and there was a message from the quintessential mover and shaker, Marlene Klotz-Collins, a longtime member of both the national and local Phoenix advisory boards. It was an invitation to participate in presenting Ted McClure with the highly coveted Sally Award. Who is Ted McClure? I hear you thinking. So glad you asked.

Back in the late 1960s, following the Watts riots when there was a lot of civil unrest in the country, the Broadway Youth and Family Center was envisioned and born on the Southside of Phoenix. It was a 50,000-square-foot building with a professional sized gymnasium, Olympic size swimming pool, game rooms, conference rooms, Library, boxing ring, and outdoor sports fields. At its center, was an upward-sloping chapel, the architecture designed to give the appearance that it was sloping toward heaven.

Doris and I were appointed to be the accoucheur and midwife officers for this innovative and bold birthing. One of our first acts was to hire Bud Fuqua, a former officer, as our Athletic Director and TC Dean as our Center Director, both men God-centered and driven by strong spiritual values.

It was during this time of race riots and civil unrest that 15-year old Ted, along with his mother and eight siblings of five different fathers moved into South Phoenix. Then, there had been more than 750 riots, killing 228 people and injuring 12,741 others. After more than 15,000 separate incidents of arson, many black urban neighborhoods were in ruins

Ted says today, “The Salvation Army Center became an instant place of refuge. They showered me with guidance, gave me hope as a person. The army was home.”

Devastated by not making the cut for basketball at South Mountain high, he honed his skills at the Army. 6’5” TC Dean, previously a basketball star at Grand Canyon College (it’s first African American graduate), and Bud, a gifted athlete, became his role models both spiritually and athletically. “It was the love of Christ they exemplified in the practices. They really cared about you,” he says, signifying that ‘God was at the center.’

53 years later, a Whitworth university business graduate, Ted now owns a 7/11 franchise and a popular BBQ restaurant in South Phoenix, among other entrepreneurial endeavors. He has provided a free Thanksgiving dinner for more than 10,000 people over the past 12 years and set up a scholarship fund for children within a 2-mile radius of the center. As a community leader, he played a pivotal role in bringing the Kroc Center to Phoenix, replacing the old one. And he now chairs the Kroc Center Advisory Council, going from beneficiary to benefactor.

No wonder he was chosen to be a recipient of the prestigious Sally award, Bob Hope and Ronald Reagan among its many other recipients down through the years. Marlene organized the event, brilliantly, swearing TC, Bud, and me to secrecy. The day arrived; Ted didn’t have a clue. He thought he was coming to meet with the Territorial Commander.

The board members and dignitaries all gathered at the DHQ, TC. Bud, Doris, and me seated in our assigned spaces. At the pre-ordained Time, his wife who was in on the act shuffled him through the conference room doors, whereupon we all stood and shouted, “Surprise!” The look on his face was priceless. Even more priceless was the moment he spotted Bud and then TC resulting in a little jig and tearful hugs (see photo sequence). Then he spotted us, seated away from the aisle, exclaiming to everyone, “What are you doing to me?”

It was a very emotional moment with tears flowing freely, including my own. The following scripture verse, my life passion, came flooding into memory:

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

(Proverbs 22:6)

We had just experienced this profound spiritual truth come to life in living color. And all because of…


Photos: 1-4 Surprise sequence. 5 Cake with present Kroc Center officers, Captains Dustin and Caroline Rowe pictured. 6 Ted responding at Kroc Center Christmas dinner:


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