Two weeks ago today, one of the truly brave, one of the most noble men God ever made, a man called Bill was called to Heaven. He was a rather amazing person, Bill was. He was born in 1920, and he grew up in Kansas. He went to college to become a music teacher. And then WWII started to blow up the globe, and off he went to Europe. He could have played in an army band, he told me. But he figured that if he were going to be in the army, then he'd fight like everyone else. He didn't want any special favors.
Tall, gentle, funny, musical Bill saw his first day of action on the beaches of Normandy - he got separated from his unit once, and hid under a bridge as the Nazis were marching across it - he landed a plane once, following the verbal directions of the pilot who'd gotten his legs shot to pieces - and he met his lovely, tiny, gentle, tough, clear-eyed Audrey in England during those years of horror and heroism. He married her, and then reported back to his unit, and after the war was over, he met her in New York, where the Kansas boy got a New York honeymoon with his bride who had come across the ocean in a ship carrying 2,000 such brides from Europe.
In the past few years, his sight and hearing failed him - nearly completely. But his sense of humor never did. He'd fought nobly every fight worth fighting - and walked away from the others. (He told me once that he couldn't watch Saving Private Ryan - it was too real, and he knew the guys who died on that beach.) He'd married well, and stayed married for the next 65 years until death parted him from Audrey. He'd taught music - and composed it. He'd fathered children - and enjoyed it. And he'd been a faithful churchman. I loved him. And I'll miss him.
Good bye, Bill. The life of the Christian does not end, but is changed. Grant him rest, O Lord. He earned it.