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Mr. B plans return to Good News at Noon
Beckstein enjoys being at the shelter, he says
Good News at Noon founder Gene Beckstein visits with volunteer Ellen Rogers as lunch is served Friday. - photo by Tom Reed

They cleared out his desk, moved in a lounging chair with an ottoman and plugged in a table-top fountain so the water cascaded near a stationary cross.

The sanctuary is "Mr. B's" room to relax, said the Rev. Ed Grant.

Gene Beckstein, founder of Good News at Noon, gave thanks for the privacy but preferred Friday to join his friends and family at lunch.

"I have so many people here who love me," he said with a smile.

Beckstein, 88, returned to the Davis Street shelter for the first time since a January visit that coincided with the day of service events promoted by Gov. Nathan Deal and his wife Sandra.

The extended visit signaled a possible return for the Good News founder who has been sidelined since November. A fall and series of illnesses, including diabetes, have made Beckstein's body fragile. But his Christianity is resolute.

"Make sure you put that word ‘Jesus' in the story," Beckstein said. "If we lift Jesus up every time, we will continue to be blessed."

Ellen "Ma" Rogers, a Good News volunteer who prepares lunches "every fourth Friday" and on Thanksgiving Day, cooked for the crowd of people who appeared eager to accommodate their recovering leader.

At Beckstein's request, Rogers discussed her vast dinner menu and crumb pudding dessert planned for the special

"It's fun. It just makes your heart feel so good," Rogers said, while delivering praises to Beckstein. "He has done so many good things."

Supported by his late wife Marjorie, Beckstein developed a mission to feed the hungry after he retired from teaching. As part of the adopted cause, he also pledged to feed souls.

When Grant, director of Good News, visited with Beckstein Sunday, he found the older man studying his Bible.

"He was preparing his lessons for Thursday night food giveaways," Grant said, explaining Beckstein's leadership role in the weekly distribution of food and Scriptural lessons. "He's excited about coming back so he can give his lessons again."

Though worried about how Beckstein would handle Friday's outing physically, Grant seemed comforted by the joyous routine of devotion at noon.

"It was like he had never left," Grant said.