By Irene Webster
I want to leave this for others to see a example of a Godly man but also for his children to hear his story one more time.
C. J. Webster, my husband, was raised by two wonderful Catholic parents who loved others and God, working faithfully to advance the Lord’s purposes. As a child C.J. had hoped to become a priest and for a time served as an altar boy but later decided against the priesthood since he discovered he liked girls.
C.J. was also an Eagle Scout and an excellent student, eventually pursuing an undergraduate degree in math from Southern Methodist University. After graduation from college he chose to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer for two years teaching young boys’ mathematics in Ghana – rather than fighting in the Vietnam war because he had been raised in a nonviolent home.
Years later, after he became a born-again Christian, he again returned to Ghana in search of some of the young men he had taught and was delighted to discover that many had risen to high positions in government and had wonderfully accomplished lives. He was really thrilled to learn he had made a difference.
Before I met C. J., he had already earned an undergraduate degree in math from Southern Methodist University and went on to earn a master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin in government. From there he worked for the North Central Texas Counsel of Government in order to learn all about city management. After this experience he became the founding city manager of Addison, developing and planning this little nothing town from a field of cows to a thriving metropolis full of magnificent high rises and restaurants.
When I first met C. J. he had been on the Texas Commerce Bank Board for several years, and later, after our marriage he served as one of the three DART founders for Dallas Area Rapid Transit. Surprisingly, he was humble despite all his accomplishments. I never heard him brag in any way, rather, he was only excited to see what would happen and always gave others credit. He simply pointed the way.
After serving in Addison as City Manager for several years, we met, dated and fell in love. But without God in our lives we both were compelled to live together out of fear of another failed marriage. Despite our efforts to put together a marriage that hadn’t yet happened, our relationship began to falter. One month after I had begun to read the Bible, I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. That very night C. J. came home and with tears in his eyes he told me he did not want to be married to me but that he may change his mind soon. My new love for God brought me such a peace and confidence I packed my things and was gone the next morning. I prayed for him to become a Christian not knowing he was already being drawn to God. My prayer was, “God, I love C. J. but I don’t want to marry him if he isn’t a saved Christian”.
Within 5 days at a Business Men’s Prayer Breakfast with the great man of God, Ed Cole, speaking on salvation only through Jesus Christ, C. J. Webster became a born-again Christian. Three weeks later he proposed and put a ring on my finger. Sexual purity was upmost for us both now, but we wasted little time and within two months we were married. Then amazingly, two months later I was expecting our first child. Again, God lost little time in bringing correction to C. J. and upon learning of my pregnancy he became convicted by the Holy Spirit of his compulsive need for alcohol. With God’s help C. J. lost all desire for alcohol and never drank any liquor again in his entire life. Truly, he was committed to obeying God and determined to set a good example for our children and others.
Our marriage had just begun when he was invited to partner with a wealthy entrepreneur to do land development. Within three years C. J. and his partner created numerous projects including high rises, apartment complexes in the Dallas/Addison area, and even acquired three savings and loans. Although the business was successful, with them even acquiring fifteen acres in the Oak Lawn area to begin a master planned community within a community, there was a downturn in the economy and an ensuing crash in the development market and banking industry. Because C. J. was now ill at ease and had no peace, with God’s leading, he resigned, leaving land development and banking, holding a note from his partner for $3,000,000.
Not long after this he and two other born again men partnered up to buy a potentially lucrative property but the endeavor failed as the City of Arlington delayed bringing the much needed utilities to the property so the property was essentially not sell-able. Because the interest on the loan had grown to $1,500,000 both his partners declared bankruptcy leaving C. J. holding the proverbial bag. Not only that, his previous partner now declared bankruptcy as well leaving us without a dime of the $3,000,000 he owed us.
These events would have destroyed a normal man but not C. J. Webster. No, this is when he went to his knees in prayer. Prayer to forgive, prayer to ask God to send help to free us from mounting interest, prayer for a new home as we had even lost our new custom-built home, and prayer for a job. Now a broken man, C. J. waited on God to do something. And God did do something. As soon as C. J. forgave a friend for not repaying a debt of $5,000, the bank forgive him his debt of $1,500,000 in back interest on a land loan. After five years of attempting to negotiate with the bank on his loan the Lord caused the bank to forgive C..J. his debt and restored C. J.’s good name. Persistent prayer worked and God moved.
After a year of prayerful deliberation, in order to pay the bills C. J. sought work with good counsel and God’s favor and leading. Soon he was offered a position with the Chamber of Commerce as its’ president. It was during these years he did some serious soul searching, finally realizing he was happiest and at his best, as a public servant. So, after talking with me, and praying together for an answer, he jumped back into the interview process to become a City Manager again. During that time he was interviewed by the City of Dallas, and Duncanville, Texas but eventually felt God leading him to accept the Port Lavaca position as the city manager of a small coastal town that needed a creative jump and an experienced firm hand.
It was in this sleepy little town of Port Lavaca I saw C. J. excel as he showed his great love for people and their needs. Never once did I hear him say a bad word about a single soul in that town when most people would have given in to the temptations to fight back in some way. In fact, he had an unheard-of policy, to take all his calls personally because he wanted to build relationships and trust.
Additionally, during his years in Port Lavaca he also volunteered for Victory Outreach, a drug rehab program by acquiring an old building for $1 and later worked to restore it with the help of several concerned Christian brothers. There was no question. He was committed to bringing people together and did it with true concern for the entire community in a Godly, loving way. As a result, he was greatly respected and loved by all who knew him and was greatly missed when we left.
Because of C.J.’s involvement with a Christian organization called Promise Keepers and his great love for God, over the years C. J. Webster, although a really nice guy, grew into a truly wonderful Christian man sincerely committed to being a Godly husband and father to his children. In fact, I never knew him to be a bad husband in anyway, never unfaithful, demanding, bossy, bitter or hateful, raising his voice, always very patient and loving, respectful, reasoning, long suffering, and very generous and kind to his entire family.
Out of Promise Keepers he developed an attitude of putting me first, little love letters hidden in unexpected places, long hours of talks even though he was often exhausted from his demanding work schedule, being a good listener when my life became too challenging with our two children, and united with me in prayer twice a day or more. Even with our busy lives C. J. always tried to make time for date night each week so our marriage could be nurtured and thrive. Often, C. J. sought my counsel asking me to pray and see what God might reveal to me so that his decisions would be checked. This man knew the value of a Godly wife.
Before his death C. J.’s last position was as City Manager of Brenham. He was often asked to preach at various Brenham churches, but he would do so only reluctantly saying he wasn’t called to do this, but he was called to lead cities. It was also there where he taught Bible studies for two years to a group of wonderful men around the community. It was these very same men C. J. discipled who called a prayer vigil for him on the town square the night he lay dying.
C. J. always encouraged me to follow my ministry gifting and ministerial passions. In fact, he was the person who almost forcibly pushed me into my first missionary trip which literally changed me for the rest of my life. My calling as a praise team member, jail minister and later as a woman pastor was something he also greatly supported and eagerly helped in any way possible.
C. J. was my best advocate telling everyone he met how God had gifted me. He was truly my best supporter. Despite the fact he was very ill with milo fibrosis he continued to put out the chairs for our events, greet people, baby sit, always the servant, always sacrificing, always smiling, with a whistle on his lips and a bad joke or pun.
For years C. J. had longed for a son and was so overjoyed at his son’s birth. He was so proud and happy to finally have a beautiful baby boy to raise. C. J. loved to play basketball with him or go fishing or a swim, dad time stuff. His love for our son was deep, praying for him daily, correcting, challenging, and sadly sometimes having to bring discipline. Often they sat and talked privately, and their love grew exponentially. There was a strong, silent male bond between them, one I did not have the privilege of sharing but it was there, strong, and committed to the end.
C. J.’s love for our daughter, his little “Peaches” was amazingly sacrificial because after coming home and talking to me for around an hour he would eat his dinner and then go right to work with her to help her master her home schooled studies. It was because of those hours of sacrifice she developed great math skills. I remember him coming home from work daily exhausted yet right after dinner he would sit for hours tutoring her, often falling asleep on the table because of his problem with milo fibrosis which drained him physically of oxygen because of lack of red blood cells. She was blessed by her father’s great love for her as he took her to Father-Daughter dances, plays, date nights, fishing trips, story hours, and prayer time. She truly knew a father’s love.
C. J. had another daughter, Ellen, from his previous marriage. He totally adored this sweet girl. I know because I saw his tears at the mere mention of her name. At the beginning of his illness, he joyfully gave her hand in marriage to a wonderful, respectful, young, Christian man. Astonishingly, the day of the wedding C. J. woke up only to realize he was so weak he could barely walk to the car, much less walk his daughter down the aisle, so he quietly got dressed while the rest of the family slept and he crept out of the house to go on emergency to the local hospital for a blood transfusion.
Always thoughtful, considering other’s needs, he prepared for his daughter’s most dreamed of day. By the grace of God and a miracle we all arrived at the wedding to see C. J. give his precious daughter away. What a day that was! His heart was totally torn and bruised from the loss of their daily interactions, but he always tried to be involved in her life. Again, he sacrificed for her too, providing for her higher education without a complaint, always living modestly and saving money for his responsibilities. He was so proud of her academic accomplishments but was overjoyed when she committed her life to Christ.
Truly, he was remarkable and often I pinched myself not really believing I deserved his love.
I thanked God every day for the best kind of example of Christ I could have ever imagined to be in my life.
This man only wanted the best for others, desiring us to succeed in life. Private schools, summer camps, and individual time.
This amazing man of God loved others so much. In fact, the love God put in him I believe was easily seen in everything he did in life because he always put others before himself. He did it even when time and money were limited, driving old cars, wearing old clothes, living modestly, and let’s not forget freely giving his time to the community. C.J. always loved deeply, sacrificially, and never once complained. Truly, this was a Man of God.