Talking with the Rev. Blake Lasater

Before the holidays, I interviewed the Rev. Blake Lasater of First United Methodist Church for my upcoming book, “Welcome to Eureka Springs: The I-Sh*t-You-Not History of America’s Quirkiest Town.”

I didn’t explicitly ask forgiveness for the curse word, but I think it was implied.

I wanted to talk with him about two of his flock, Dan and Suzie Bell, who will be featured in my book.

The Bells started the ECHO Clinic, ECHO Thrift Store, and ECHO Village.

The clinic offers free medical care for those who can’t afford it. The thrift store also serves gourmet coffee. The village is a cheerful collection of small cottages addressing the area’s shortage of affordable housing.

ECHO stands for Eureka Christian Health Outreach. The Bells’ faith and Suzie’s determination are the driving forces behind their efforts.

“With somebody like Suzie, you’re not going to be surprised when she says, ‘We’re going to move this mountain,’” Rev. Lasater told me. “It’s just, ‘OK.’ She’s going to make it happen.”

We also talked about Martie Davis, soon retiring as the church’s administrative assistant. Back in 1978, Martie was the first woman to be elected mayor of Eureka Springs. Even further back, in 1966, Katherine Green was the first woman to serve as mayor, but she was appointed to finish her deceased husband’s term rather than elected.

With all the glitz of downtown Eureka Springs, it’s easy to overlook the struggles of the service industry workers who make it possible. But Dan and Suzie Bell haven’t, and I’m happy I’ll be able to share their story with you.

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