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August 15

Tuesday, August 15th, 2023

I heard about the death of a friend yesterday afternoon. This is my tribute; these are my thoughts.

As a pastor or over 50 years, I have had a lot of people cross my path and go in and out of my life. Most were of the pastor/sheep variety. Very few dropped the pastor/sheep moniker and became “friend.” I’ve had a few who reached that status; a few I would trust with my life; a few I would trust with personal information.

Ron was one of them. 12 years my senior, we became friends. He and Joyce “adopted” me and Jo and we spent a lot of time together. It would take pages to list all the things we did together as couples, and he and I as friends. I would need a getaway and the 4 of us would go to a hotel in Owensboro, KY for the weekend. One Friday night I ate so much I could not eat a bite until Saturday evening. One weekend we happened to be there when The Lettermen (Google them) entertained with a great concert. Ron was a diehard Cardinal fan and I a Pirate fan (but I didn’t hold that against him). The four of us traveled to St. Louis as well as Pittsburgh to watch ballgames. He loved to eat so he and I would often go out for lunch to simply laugh and eat. We golfed together. Let me rephrase that: he golfed; I chased my ball around the course. 🙂

One of the first funerals I performed as the pastor of the church was his mother’s. I also performed several weddings of his children.

Ron was deeply in love with Joyce. The last time the four of us were together was at a Cheddars restaurant and I knew something wasn’t right. Shortly after, Joyce was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Ron lovingly cared for her until he could no more. But every day-even when she no longer knew him-he faithfully visited her in the facility. She eventually went to be with Jesus. He was lost without her and life was never the same.

Now it is his turn. He loved and served Jesus with his whole heart. Now he gets to hear the “Well done, good and faithful servant” that his wife of 42 years heard a few years ago. He is reunited with Joyce, his mother and father, and others who preceded him. What a great cloud of witnesses there had to have been!

I’ll pay my respects on Thursday at his visitation and funeral. I’ll tell his sons and daughter how much he meant to me. And I’ll tell him “See you later my friend.”  Never goodbye.