10 Years on the Other Side

This week marks the 10th anniversary of my Father’s death. I honestly think about him every day, and those thoughts are even more meaningful now that I am a Dad. My Mom and brothers granted me the honor of writing his eulogy, which I thought I would share. It was delivered at his memorial service by his friend Bill Bates, who added some of his own memories not captured here. Still miss you Dad, and I hope that you have given God a bit of a breather on all the questions I’m sure you wanted to ask Him.

In November 1955, David and Edith were students at Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. Friday nights at the college were considered “date night”. Several people would tell David that they knew who he was going to ask out, and that was Edith. Had people not given him a hard time about it, he probably would have gotten around to asking her out on his own.

However, before they actually went out, they were going with other students to an area church to minister, and Edith chimed up and told the group that she was going to get engaged January 3rd. When asked who she was going to get engaged to, she replied that she didn’t know. But that was the day that everyone got back to college after the New Year and it was leap year. Back then, people used to joke that in leap years, the girls could propose to the guys, so Edith said that she was going to ask around until she finally got someone to say yes. David asked Edith if she would ask him first. Edith simply asked if he was going to say yes, and he said he would.

So a few months later, January rolled around and Edith walked into the cafeteria. David was sitting with some friends, pulled out a chair and said “Edith, don’t you have something to ask me?” She said, “Yes, will you marry me?” He said yes, and they all got a big laugh out of it.

A couple weeks later, David finally asked Edith out on a date, and fairly soon they realized that they were meant to be together, and they were married on May 25, 1956, nearly 50 years ago. So David truly was a lucky man, because Edith actually asked him to marry her. If only she had known what she was asking for, that question may never have come up!

David had a great sense of humor. He was always telling jokes to everyone he met, usually getting a good laugh out of them. Trouble was that he only knew about 10 jokes, so after seeing him a few times, they heard the same ones over and over again. Even if
he knew that he had told you the joke before, he didn’t care because he would tell it to you again. And you knew he liked you if he picked at you.

For those who didn’t know David in his younger years, he actually wore a hair piece. He didn’t care if someone knew that he wore one, he just didn’t want anyone to see him without it. Probably the fastest you would ever see David move was if someone brought an unexpected guest into the house, and his hairpiece wasn’t anywhere close. He would fly off the couch and run to the bedroom to get it, coming back calmly with his hair in its proper place.

Walt Whitman, the great poet once wrote about life, “the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” This just shows that man cannot think as big as God, because with God’s help, David contributed so much more than just a verse.

David was ordained in 1960, and never looked back. He had what many people in this life do not have today, and that is purpose. His purpose was to minister to others, to share with them the joys of Christ’s salvation and love, and to tell them that if they ever got to the point where they didn’t think anyone in this life thought that they mattered, that they still mattered to the one that fashioned them in his own image. They mattered to God and they mattered to David, and that was his purpose.

David ministered in churches from Odessa, Texas, to Alexandria, Virginia, to Detroit, Michigan, to Whitsett, North Carolina. He started two churches, one in Daytona, Florida, and one in Flint, Michigan that are still to this day telling the gospel of Jesus Christ. And he made an impact on people that you could still see in their eyes years later when they saw him.

David was defined by his family, and he took great pride in talking about them any chance he got. He left an indelible mark on all of them, and there is a part of him that lives on in those closest to him. If you look at his sons, you can see a unique part of him in each one. Greg has his desire to work for the Lord and be a minister to others. Keith shows his compassion and tenderness, and Phil shows his aggressive, confident spirit and determination. All of them have David’s love for people and his sense of humor.

Over the last few years of his life, David was admitted to the hospital for different reasons, some of which were made more complicated by his diabetes. While others may have been preoccupied with their own situation, he looked at these moments as opportunities to reach out to others. He would ask for members of the church to bring him tracts so that he could witness to the workers in the hospital that came by his room.

David is now free of the body that failed him, and like every good Baptist minister enjoying the best pot luck dinner that Heaven has to offer. For the next few days, God is going to be really busy, answering a lot of questions, and showing David all the wonders that he talked about in this life for over 50 years.

His legacy in this life was his ability to give up his own will, give his life to God, and show others how to do the same. Some people say that their one goal in life is to matter. David not only mattered, he made an impact on those around him.

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