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A bishop, a boy, a last will and testament

David Oparowski's cancer was terminal. He was only 14 and his condition devastated his parents.

But the bishop of their church began visiting the hospital, comforting the family and befriending the boy.

"They developed a loving friendship," his mother recalled 33 years later.

The boy knew the bishop had gone to law school and asked him to help him write his last will and testament.

The next time the bishop visited, he brought a yellow legal pad and worked out a will that divided the boy's possessions — his skateboard, his model rockets, and his fishing gear — to his friends. To his brother, Peter, he gave his Ruger .22 rifle.

With the bishop's help, David also arranged his funeral.

He wanted to be buried in his Boy Scout uniform, and he asked the bishop to give the eulogy, an honor the bishop accepted.

The bishop's fondness for the boy was real.

His treatment of the boy as an adult — as an equal — must have drawn out of the teen an inner strength to acknowledge his mortality and to help ease the pain of his death upon his loved ones.

That will and that funeral were for the living.

The time the bishop gave the boy came at a price. Bishop is a fancy title for pastor in the Mormon church — an unpaid position.

The bishop had a wife and four sons, as well as a new job at a prestigious Boston consulting firm. A fifth son would be born later.

Yet he took the time to help a young man say goodbye to his family.

If you watched the Republican National Convention on C-Span or maybe Fox News, you are familiar with this testimonial to Mitt Romney's time as a bishop in Boston.

I relate the story for a political purpose, of course. This is a political column.

But as I heard the story, I was struck by what Democrats have said about Romney and what the man really is.

A presidential race necessarily involves questions about both candidates' values.

There has been a lot of effort made to call Romney's into question.

The Oparowski story leaves me more impressed with how Romney has conducted his life — and less impressed with those who debase themselves by sliming a good man.

This was not the only testimonial about Romney's good works that night.

The miracle of David Oparowski is that he lives on 33 years after his death at 14.

How much do you want to bet that his boyhood pals still have his skateboard, his model rockets, and his fishing gear?

He lives on because his bishop used his hands, his feet and his legal pad to serve Christ.

This true story may not change a single vote.

But maybe it will make Democrats pause before they slime Romney and his wife again.

Surber may be reached at


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