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50-year pastor-deacon friends add ‘heart-to-heart’ experience

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)–Beyond its length, theirs is an unusual 50- year friendship.
Noel George, pastor at Prairie Hill Baptist Church in Oklahoma’s Southwest Baptist Association, and Harold Milner, a Prairie Hill deacon for 60 years, added a medical dimension to their friendship through recent heart surgery.
The two men, both 82, became friends when George moved to Prairie Hill as pastor in 1947. George returned to Prairie Hill as pastor in 1974 after serving several other Oklahoma churches. Thus he has been Milner’s pastor for 30 of the 50 years they have known each other.
The two arrived at Jackson County Memorial Hospital in Altus an hour apart in March, both suffering similar heart problems. The men had the same doctor who sent them both to Oklahoma City’s Integris Baptist Medical Center, again about an hour apart.
The following day, both men had angiograms done by the same doctor. George came out of the operating room, and Milner went into the same room.
Doctors scheduled George for bypass surgery Friday morning, March 21. Milner was given the same report: bypass surgery Friday morning.
When it was time for surgery, the men met in the surgery waiting area, with George leaving for surgery about 30 seconds before Milner was taken in. Since the operations were simultaneous, different doctors performed the surgeries.
Since the deacon’s pastor was having surgery, there was no pastor to be present with the family. And being a pastor, George did not have a pastor to be with the families. But in came Greg Hall, pastor of First Baptist Church of Duke, where three of Milner’s children are members, to pray with the families, which include George’s wife, Marie; Milner’s wife, Imogene; George’s three children and eight grandchildren; and Milner’s four children, 12 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
Following surgery, the pastor and deacon, as the hospital staff called them, were transferred to intensive care on the eighth floor in adjoining rooms.
Family members said the two men reacted differently to pain medication, however. It made Milner drowsy, while it gave George extra energy. His son found him standing on a chair trying to change a television station two days after the surgery.
Five days following the surgery, the two men returned home ready to pursue their activities and their friendship.

    About the Author

  • Dana Williamson