My Hero

by DanWolgemuth on December 14, 2012

One hour.  That’s how long Paul Zurcher gave me.

It was a gift laced with generosity.

In 1948 a local banker in Monroe, Indiana slid three one hundred dollar bills into the courageous and zealous hand of Paul Zurcher.  That’s what it was going to take for Paul to purchase a one-bay auto garage in the center of his rural community.  $300.

Paul’s dream for this business had been birthed in the intensity of the battle lines of combat in World War II.  The Italian front lines to be exact.  Thirteen weeks after Paul had donned his army gear for the first time he was in combat.  Our defender.  Our soldier.  Our hometown hero.

In the furnace of battle Paul fanned the embers of courage by dreaming of what could be, of what might happen, of what he hoped would become his vocation.  $300 transformed the dream into reality.

Paul was a farm boy.  One of seven children in the Zurcher household.  I watched as Paul transported himself back to the farmhouse where on Thanksgiving Day each of the seven Zurcher children drew a sibling’s name out of their father’s hat.  They were then given $.25 to purchase a Christmas gift for that individual.  A lump swelled in my throat as Paul acknowledged that there were years when the family funds couldn’t cover the $2.00 required.

There wasn’t an ounce of regret or disappointment in Paul’s voice as he described what seemed inconceivable.  Only the humble acknowledgment that farm life was not the fuel that sustained him in Italy… it was the dream of a one-bay auto garage.  And in 1948 a bank said yes and the dream took flight.

Today, in Monroe, Indiana there are 100 employees at Zurcher Tire.  One auto bay exploded into twenty-five… and that Zurcher dream, that outrageous hope and courage is now replicated in 250 locations in 19 other states across the United States.

Quite literally, a dream and $300 has changed the lives of thousands of people in hundreds of communities.  Paul is humble, honest, reflective, Godly, and still wildly engaged in the dream that God planted deep in the soil of his soul.  It’s about stewardship.  It’s about vision.  It’s about obedience.  It’s about commitment.

It’s outrageous… but it’s true.

Today, in a small conference room in Monroe, Indiana I was tutored by a saint.

Farm boy, soldier, dreamer, entrepreneur, mechanic, owner, partner, steward, catalyst… sold out follower of Jesus Christ.

When I left Zurcher Tire I wanted to be like Paul.

He’s a rare breed.  A fading picture of greatness.

          “…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”  (2 Timothy 1:7)

In the classroom once again.  A one-bay classroom in Monroe, Indiana.

More like Paul, more like Jesus.

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