Kent Eberhardt was 13 when he met Jack Lemons. Their friendship grew; as the years passed, they kept in touch by writing letters.
Joplin Globe Staff Writer
Kent Eberhardt was a teen-ager when he faithfully delivered The Joplin Globe to his neighbor Jack Lemons.
Little did he know that his attention to his job and his befriending of an elderly man who lived alone would pay such a dividend years later.
Eberhardt, now 25, has just received a degree in architectural engineering from Kansas University.
And, he received $50,000 in a lump sum as a beneficiary in Lemons' trust.
``It's one heck of a tip for putting his paper on the porch every day,'' said Eberhardt, who was a newspaper carrier for four years. ``This makes my future a lot brighter.''
Eberhardt received a carrier scholarship through the Globe when he graduated from Joplin High School in 1991. He said he had school debts of about $15,000 when he graduated from KU. The gift has taken care of those. The rest of the money is being invested.
``The timing of this is what is amazing,'' said Richard Spong, manager of Lemons' trust at Mercantile Bank. He said Eberhardt was included in Lemons' trust in 1994.
Eberhardt was 13 when he met Lemons. Their friendship grew; as the years passed, they kept in touch by writing letters.
``I could walk across the back yard of my house to his house,'' Eberhardt said. "I really got to know him when he called one day and asked me to come over and take a look at his new car. It was a Mercedes.
``We talked a lot about books and Russian literature. He was a big fan of Dostoevski. He had the wisdom of a grandfather, and that was important to me since my grandfather died 20 years ago.
``We would talk about World War II and his time with the Marines in the South Pacific. We bridged the gap between generations. He had a sense of humor, and he was very literary.''
Lemons, 79, died June 14 after a short illness. He was born at Baxter Springs, Kan., and lived most of his life in Joplin. He graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia and worked as an instructor at Wentworth Military Academy. He and his father owned the former Driller's Supply Co., Joplin. He retired in 1989. He was an only child. He never married. He had no children.
Eberhardt said he is taking a job with Turner Construction, a national firm with headquarters at Arlington, Va. He will work in the company's mid-Atlantic region and live in Baltimore.
His father, Duane, said, ``He is a good young man, and we are very proud of him.''
Eberhardt said he last spoke to Lemons about two years ago.
``I wrote him a letter to let him know that I had graduated, and I mailed it a few days before he had his stroke,'' he said. ``I don't know whether he got it before he died. The letter is probably still in his post office box, which was No. 4.
``I was really looking forward to him being an influence on the rest of my life. He has, in fact, had a profound influence on my life.''