Photo: Dr. James W. Dyer, Jr. (left) Byron F. Harper, Jr., M.D. (right)
Dr. James W. Dyer, Jr., minister emeritus of Southwest Christian Church, East Point, Georgia and founder of Southwest Christian Care in Union City, Georgia passed away Wednesday, October 1, 2008. As a youth in Atlanta Jim received inspiration to begin the Hospice program from visits to a Catholic home for the terminally ill. Dr. James W. Dyer, Jr. and the late Byron F. Harper, Jr., M.D. were friends since childhood. Jim and Byron were the dreamers and visionaries behind the initial concept of the Southwest Christian Care ministries. In 1983 Jim and Byron’s dream of Hospice became a reality as Southwest Christian Hospice opened its doors as the first free-standing hospice in the state of Georgia. Jim is often quoted regarding the mission of Hospice, “To me, it’s the church being the church. It’s caring for people – not for profit, not for honor – but, for our love of them and our love of God.” Jim’s vision and heart for hurting people serves as the foundation upon which the Hospice ministry was built.
Jim’s dream of providing Hospice services at no charge to the patients or their families has continued for 25 years now. The dream continued to expand as the need for respite care for children with special needs was realized. In 2002 a one-of-a-kind Hope House Children’s Respite Center opened its doors serving the special needs community again at no charge to the families of these children.
In 2007 Byron and Jim’s friendship served as the catalyst for the development of Southwest Christian Care DayBreak Ministry – A Day Program for Seniors. The DayBreak program offers an environment structured to meet the fellowship needs of senior adults with varying degrees of memory loss, while other crave companionship and usefulness and a place full of friendly caring faces. In August 2008 a capital campaign began to build a facility to house the DayBreak Ministry called “Byron & Jim’s Place”. Both of these men have left a lasting legacy and have made a difference in the lives of a number of individuals and in the community. Jim and Byron will both be greatly missed.
Jim has served on Southwest Christian Care Board of Directors and the Advisory Board. In 1993 he received the Servant Leadership Award.
Jim is survived in death by his wife Wilma Dyer of Union City; by his daughters and sons-in-law Kathy and Bob Every of Macau, China; Peggy and Doug McNash of Smyrna; and Paula and Bryce Crawford of Peachtree City; by his six grandchildren Stefanie and Chris Coleman and Brady Every; James and Hayley McNash; Jordan and Ross Crawford; by his step daughters and their husbands, Beth and Rick Harper of Fayetteville and Grace and Perry Sisk of Tyrone; by his step-grandchildren, Ethan, Tyler, and Morgan Sisk and Garrett, Donovan, and Grayson Harper; by his brother and sister-in-law Gene P. and Martha Dyer of Union City; by his brother-in-law and wife, James and Virginia Aldridge of Union City; by his sister-in-laws Ruth Hewitt of Rome, Georgia and Jeffie Elton of Aransas Pass, Texas; and by numerous nephews and nieces.
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