Legacy of Love

Ever thought about your legacy? Maybe you have at one point or another. Legacy is defined as “something handed down from an ancestor or a predecessor or from the past.” So, what about your legacy? I think we all leave behind a legacy. It could be to just one other person, or it could be to millions. And that legacy could be something bad or something good. But, every day, we leave our mark on the people around us and our communities. 

In this month’s article, I wanted to share a story about a man who left a legacy of love to the people he came across. So much so that you can look around and see the buildings he built, talk to the people he impacted the most, and even see new generations of young people building their lives on the solid and Godly principles handed down through his legacy. 

Abigail Lewis is the granddaughter of Lt. Colonel Colbert and Mrs. Earle Dilday. I recently talked with Abigail about a new adventure and mission she is beginning, and it all traces back to the legacy of love that Colbert left on her. “An-Daddy told me, ‘I hope you always do the right things for all the right reasons,’” Abigail remembers. This was just a taste of Colbert’s wisdom and impact on his granddaughter’s life.

The Carpenter’s Granddaughter, LLC is a new business that Abigail will begin in 2024, along with her soon-to-be husband. This is a construction business, but it is more than that. It is a “tribute to the love and dedication to our community that my grandfather instilled in me from a young age. It’s more than just a business to me. It is a way to give back to the community… and continue the legacy of service my grandfather started.” 

The story of Colbert Dilday goes way back, but I wanted to start in 1995 at Snyder Memorial Church in Fayetteville, NC.  At this time, Colbert, David Crocker, and a few other Snyder folks on the planning team dreamed up and executed the very first Inasmuch Day. Nearly 80% of the church was involved on that first day. After their big day of service, the church gathered to celebrate what the Lord had done and to share stories. Colbert stood before his church and said, “I have never been more proud of any church in my life. We made a difference in a lot of lives in a lot of places. But I challenge you today… Let’s not put a period on serving… let’s put a dash behind it.” 

Original footage of Colbert sharing after the first Inasmuch Day at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, Fayetteville, NC.

That dash is Operation Inasmuch. That dash is thousands of churches in at least 24 states and five countries. That dash is over 2 million people being served by the local church. That dash is a movement of compassion. 

Colbert thought like that. He understood the big picture. It’s not about one day or one project… it’s a lifestyle. It’s a calling from the Lord, and we are to follow in Jesus’ footsteps as we go about our lives. Abigail shared that her “An-Daddy” formed the way she saw the world and changed her perspective on how to approach everyday situations. Colbert told her, “I am here to walk like Christ. No recognition is needed for that.” There was a kindness and a way he treated everyone he met. Abigail describes it as simply treating people like human beings. 

She told a story about a time when she was an early teenager. She and her granddad were leaving Lowe’s. A man was asking for money in the parking lot. After talking with him briefly, Colbert told him, “I am not going to give you money today, but I want to invite you to go up the road with me and my granddaughter to a church BBQ lunch I know about.” They talked to him and learned more about his story. He was recently released from prison, but she remembers that the man felt seen and he appreciated being treated with kindness. Before he left, they got a chance to pray with him. 

I asked Abigail about serving during Snyder Memorial’s Inasmuch Days, especially with her grandfather. She replied, “I have so many memories as a child of singing at the nursing home, helping my ‘An-Mommy’ with sewing projects, and putting together and giving out care bags to people, but my fondest and best memories were all of the projects I worked with ‘An-Daddy’ on construction projects. I remember carrying packs of shingles over my shoulder up a ladder to a roof. People around would rush over to me to help, but ‘An-Daddy’ told them, ‘She can do it. Let her do it.” She added, “He really believed there was nothing I couldn’t do.” 

Colbert and Abigail were involved in many Inasmuch Days together. They helped build the Fayetteville Area Operation Inasmuch house, which works with the homeless population. She remembers working on the pergola behind the house so vividly. Colbert let her make some pretty dangerous and intricate cuts with a jig saw, and she just thought it was the best. 

Abigail and I talked for nearly an hour about her fond memories of her grandfather. Many other stories could be included, like how he helped build the very first house with Habitat for Humanity in the Fayetteville area or helped build the set for the Singing Christmas Tree program at the church. Colbert and a man named John Cook collected money from his platoon during Vietnam and built a school in Vietnam for the children there during the war. Abigail said that he knew he had been in contact with Agent Orange during the war, so when an Inasmuch project came that was a little unsafe, he would be the one to take it. She specifically mentioned a house in Fayetteville that was full of asbestos. He made her stay way away on another aspect of the project while he demoed and made the necessary changes to the house so the homeowners could have a healthier life. 

He always told her, “You will never know what the smallest act of kindness can do for someone.” These are the types of things that she will be taking with her into her new business, “The Carpenter’s Granddaughter.” Abigail is finishing up the requirements for her contractor’s license and will officially launch her business in Greenville, NC, later this year. 

Abigail wants her customers to feel welcomed and heard. She wants to make them feel inspired and connected. Besides great quality work, Abigail wants to support workers, artists, and craftsmen by creating a healthy work environment where people are treated as human beings, paid a fair wage, and appreciated in all they do. Ultimately, she wants The Carpenter’s Granddaughter to inspire people to serve others in the community, whether that is through volunteering, donating, or simply showing kindness to others. 

As I am typing all this, I keep singing this 22-year-old song from Nicole Nordeman called Legacy. The chorus says: 

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough?
To make a mark on things
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace
Who blessed Your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

Colbert Dilday left that kind of legacy. He left a legacy of love. What will people remember about you once you are no longer here? What did you teach or leave behind for others that might be duplicated or remembered in a special way? Those are questions that we must all ponder in our own lives. But I do know that serving others in need is one important and crucial way we believers should share our faith. When we serve, we open doors to the gospel and bring about hope. We walk in the footsteps of Jesus and make a significant impact in the lives we touch… a legacy of love.  

Written by:
Gene Whaley

Ministry Director

11 responses to “Legacy of Love”

  1. David Crocker says:

    GREAT article!!! What a privilege to have worked alongside Colbert Dilday in serving others. How good it is to see his example is still bearing fruit through his family and others.

  2. Jay Currin says:

    Thank you, Gene and David. Remembering Colbert’s Sweet Spirit is always uplifting to me.
    Operation Inasmuch has led so many people to witness of Christ-like behaviors in His followers. Pray for Abigail in her own legacy creation.

  3. Donna Pleasant says:

    Colbert was a wonderful man with a warm smile, a humble spirit and a true servant’s heart. What a privilege to know and love him as a friend. Thank you for a well deserved tribute both to him and his sweet Abby.

  4. Kathy Allen says:

    Colbert was a true servant of Christ all the days of his life. We all cherish his memory and legacy that changed lives. This is a heart warming story of how his granddaughter has in his steps . Such a sweet sweet spirit as he shared God’s love with everyone he met. Beautiful tribute!!🙏

  5. David Nichols says:

    I was close with Colbert, we shared a small business and Colbert was a real hard worker and so generous and helpful. I can never say enough about the times we shared , he was truly a God servant in what and how he lived his life, I’m better for having known him and his sweet wife Earle. Snyder is richer with the legacy he left with many of us.

  6. Judy Dawkins says:

    This is an excellent tribute to a great man, Colbert Dilday! His beautiful granddaughter Abby and her husband will honor him and her Grandmother Earle Dilday as they help others! Everyone at our church, Snyder Memorial Baptist loves this family! Thank you for sharing this with us! Judy

  7. Tyrek Moore says:

    This was a great read. I am rooting for The Carpenter’s Granddaughter. Cheers to much success and adding to your grandfathers legacy.

  8. Sylvia Haynes says:

    A beautiful tribute to a man who gave of himself unselfishly to others. So proud of the inspiration he left for his family as they carry on the love he had for God, family and others. It was a blessing to be a friend. Sylvia

  9. Jack Hurley says:

    A great tribute to my friend Colbert. He worked tirelessly repairing hundreds of bicycles on Saturday mornings for donation to needy children.

  10. Nancy Teachey says:

    Colbert always had a warm welcome and smile. Early on, when Wilson and I started attending Snyder, he made us feel like we belonged to the Snyder family. I miss him and his compassion that extended to all people. ❤️

  11. Julia Ann Odom says:

    I cannot adequately add more ; Abigail said it best, Colbert loved sincerely and affirmed and encouraged totally. He motivated and taught the correct way. with laughter and kindness and so much respect. when i had to get his approval for a plan, he would show me a better way and who who would best assist. i trusted his advice and loved him.

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