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Golden Keyes Parsons at one of her book signings.

Waco Today lost a valued contributor to the magazine on Feb. 16 when Golden Keyes Parsons was tragically killed in a multi-vehicle accident on Interstate 35. As I listened to the wonderful stories about her at the memorial service in Antioch Community Church, it made me wish I had gotten the chance to know this Christ-hearted servant and gifted writer better.

So often in my role as editor of this magazine, my interactions with our contributors are on a professional basis – mostly it’s email exchanges about a story I think they’d be well-suited for and we discuss word counts, deadlines and the like. Less often, we would speak on the phone.

Golden’s involvement with Waco Today began in 2011. Author David Mosley had wrapped up a 12-story run of “Heartbreak, Texas” in the May issue, but then-editor Jeff Osborne wanted to continue with a fiction offering in the magazine. Golden, who had already penned four historical fiction novels for Thomas Nelson Publishing, was approached about writing a serialized story for the magazine.

Her first “A Watch in Time” story appeared in the June edition. I came back on board as editor of Waco Today to work on the August issue, getting to read and edit (not that a lot of that was needed) her third installment of the serial, which included references to Waco landmarks and stories from the past.

Golden confided that the serial, which had a time-travel aspect to it, was certainly different than anything she had written before. And trying to maintain a monthly deadline and limited word count to fit on a two-page spread was all new to her. But she did a terrific job with it, and I enjoyed getting to read each installment.

After her 12 “A Watch in Time” stories were complete, she resumed her focus on her novels, but offered to write articles for Waco Today as time allowed. I was glad to have her well-crafted stories when she was able.

Last year she wrote a nice piece for a summertime issue that explored her own joy of summer reading. The last story she wrote for Waco Today was one that she pitched to me. Golden had connected with Summer Shine, owner of the Luna Juice Bar, and her incredible story of turning her life around. Golden shared Summer’s redemptive tale in our January issue.

As was shared at Golden’s memorial service, she touched many people. A number of friends were gained through her involvement with a writers critique group.

One of those members was Linda LaRoque, who was asked by Golden if she would be interested in joining the group. She recalled:

“I was delighted. We met for lunch with another lady, Lynn Dean. After a couple of meetings, we were all fast friends and the critiques went well. Within a year, Lynn moved to San Antonio. Other authors joined us and for various reasons — work, time, life, etc . — had to leave.

“For a year or so it was just Golden and I meeting at Panera Bread once a month. I think during that time we each finished two novels. Golden was writing the four novellas that became ‘Hidden Faces’ and the Christmas novel ‘The Gift of the Inn,’ that is due out this fall.

“Golden's life became very busy with family, church activities and life in general, so we didn't meet for a good while. When she formed the writers group she called me to join them. Golden led us and kept us on task. She taught us with a firm hand but loving heart. She always had something good to say about our work and could offer constructive criticism so that it sounded like a compliment.

“I thought the world of Golden. She was a beautiful lady.”

I have a sense about Golden through her writing and from the words spoken at her memorial service. But I didn’t have the chance to know her as well as others. So I’ll let another writer and friend of Golden’s, Stan Poel, offer his thoughts on her:

“Footprints. Golden Parsons taught me about footprints. Not tracks on the beach that are swept away. I am talking about the enduring marks left by astronauts on the moon or the prints of little kids on fresh concrete.

“My friendship with Golden grew while I was a member of her writers critique group. Her technical guidance helped me to become a better fiction writer. Her gentle manner nurtured my confidence and my love for writing. But there is much more.

“The testimonies at Golden’s memorial service clarified her real contribution. She left an enduring legacy, permanent footprints. Her writings will remain to be savored by eager readers. Even greater was her personal impact on the people around her. She was a humble but powerful force for good. Unlike her written legacy, the marks of love that she left on the souls around her have the capacity to spread like good news.

“Through Golden’s influence, I better recognize that I am leaving footprints that will remain for others to see. I have the opportunity and the responsibility to strive that my legacy is one that benefits my neighbors.

“We, like Golden, can spread love in a wounded world.”

Editor for Waco Today magazine and community editor at the Waco Tribune-Herald