Hospice care is a program designed to allow a person to spend his last days in as much comfort as possible and to die with dignity and without pain.
"I chose to come to Upshur Manor so their staff could be my final caregivers," Mr. Tuel said.
During his stay in Upshur Manor, Mr. Tuel, a baptized member of the Church of God since the early '90s, began trying to track down a copy of Mystery of the Ages, written by Worldwide Church of God founder Herbert Armstrong.
He had long since lost his original copy, but through a bizarre set of circumstances Mac Overton (Journal staff member and editor of The Gilmer Mirror) became aware of the search and delivered a copy to him.
Mac and Robbie had been friends but had lost contact with each other.
With the help of Mr. Overton, Church of God brethren throughout the United States heard about Mr. Tuel's situation, and thus began an outpouring of love and concern for a brother.
"I received a beautiful handmade card that was signed by about 50 brethren from Fort Wayne, Ind., whom I've never met," he said. "Janice McKee made that card, and somebody told me she even makes her own paper."
Mr. Tuel has received phone calls and face-to-face visits from numerous ministers, not to mention family and friends from around the country.
He is especially proud of the lambskin-covered Bible Fred Coulter of Hollister, Calif., sent to him.
"Not only did all of this love and support strengthen me spiritually, I think it made all the difference in the world in my physical healing," Mr. Tuel said.
After graduating from high school in Gilmer, Mr. Tuel attended Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, until some college buddies convinced him to join the Marines in 1971. He served for "seven years, three months and 14 days."
He then worked for the IBM Corp. in Longview, Texas, for 16 years. It was there that he first became aware of the seventh-day Sabbath.
"I noticed that the people who cleaned our office never cleaned on Friday evenings," he said.
"They told me they kept the Sabbath beginning at sundown. Back then [around 1987], Worldwide had a closed-door policy, so they had to get permission for me to come to services.
"I wish I could remember their names.
"They're the ones who gave me my first copy of Mystery of the Ages."
The WCG allowed Mr. Tuel to visit a local congregation, but by that time IBM had transferred him to Lufkin, Texas.
After moving to Lufkin Mr. Tuel discovered that a WCG congregation was meeting less than a mile from his residence.
Again, the problem was the church's closed-door policy.
Then somehow Mr. Tuel became aware of the Church of God International, which met on the shore of Lake Palestine, south of Tyler, whose doors were open to anybody.
So, instead of driving three quarters of a mile to worship, he drove 70-80 miles each way every week to attend services with the congregation at Lake Palestine.
In more recent years Mr. Tuel had stopped attending with any formally organized church group.
When Upshur Manor released him on May 30, 2008, the nursing-home staff gave him a surprise going-away party complete with cake and balloons.
John Warren, a new friend of Robbie's and longtime resident of Big Sandy, attended the farewell party.
"The people there were so amazed at Robbie's recovery," Mr. Warren said.
"They said he lifted everyone's spirits. The nursing staff, administrators, doctors, social workers--all said it was a pleasure to work with Robbie Tuel."
The administrators were so thrilled with Mr. Tuel's abrupt recovery that they featured him in a large advertisement the nursing home paid to run in The Gilmer Mirror.
"Visiting Robbie has always been very inspirational to me, even when his health was not as good as it is now," Mr. Overton said. "It is like the sun coming out on a cloudy day."
Mrs. Tuel thinks the folks at the nursing home call her son the miracle man because "he's the first person the staff ever knew to graduate from hospice."