Orville Walter Sherrod, a high school football star at Battle Creek Central in Michigan, struggled with diabetes, kidney failure, blindness, heart attacks and numerous brutal medical procedures without losing his deep-seated grace and love. “I still have eight toes left,” he said after doctors first began a series of ever more aggressive amputations.
Reading this adoring commemoration by his evangelist wife Verda will make readers wish they had known “Big O,” but the author has her heart set on more than eulogizing her late husband. She also wants readers to be touched by his example and worship God, who is the true “Him” in the book’s title.
The book’s 10 brief, anecdotal chapters intermingle stories of Orville’s godliness and good deeds with numerous lengthy quotations from the Bible. When it works, this technique echoes the call-and-response of traditional African American sermons. When it doesn’t, it’s not clear which “He” the author is praising, resulting in an ambiguity that may work well in pop gospel songs but makes this volume unintentionally confusing. The book would have benefitted greatly from a competent editor addressing its myriad problems with mechanics, flow and voice.
Those who knew and loved “Big O” will appreciate this heartfelt memorial, but those who weren’t so fortunate may struggle with the way the material is presented here. Still, reading the book may ignite hopes for some that when it comes time for them to meet their maker, someone as loving and passionate as Orville’s wife Verda will be there to sing their hosannas.