in honor of an old man

Published on: 12/6/2009

 I'm about to lose an old friend. 

If he wasn't out walking the neighborhood or to Christina's or church, Roy's the kind of guy you'd usually find helping out his neighbor, helping at church or volunteering countless hours at the St. Vincent Thrift Store repairing donated items, getting them ready for sale. Very handy with tools, he enjoyed woodworking very much in years past. I've called him for advice with repairs on more than one occasion.

Roy was a past president and treasurer of our St. Vincent conference. A dedicated Vincentian, he would take most of the calls, without complaint, and spent many hours organizing the pantry every month.

Roy does a lot for others. I even credit Roy with saving his friend's life a couple winters ago. He knew his friend was having trouble with his garage door so he went over after a St. Vincent meeting to see if he could do anything. He found his frail and elderly friend had fallen and was close to freezing. 

And then he got the cancer diagnosis. It has returned, only this time it's incurable. With chemo he's only got a few months.

A week later his wife of 57 years passed away. A real shock considering she didn't have anything wrong with her! Couldn't take the thought of living without her husband I imagine.

Roy was there to cheer us on for our St. Vincent Walk for the Poor this last September, I just didn't realize he was also there to walk the two miles with us. His daughter, who accompanied him, kept asking him, "do you want to cut through the parking lot, Dad" or "don't you want to take a shortcut down Elder Street?"

To this he replied, "Connie, it's only a short walk. If I can make it you should be able to." From then on she kept her mouth shut.

So Roy tried the chemo for a while. It wasn't helping.

I saw Roy for the last time Friday. Friendly as ever. Firm handshake. But not looking good.


Ruth Anne, a good friend, composed this poem for him. I love that it captures him perfectly.

I sensed your vibrant energy

The first day that we met...

I gazed at this man with the silver hair

And knew he was someone I wouldn't forget.


I knew he worked for St. Vincent

I knew he ushered too

When he sang out all of the hymns with us

More than his voice rang true.


He was there whenever you'd need him

Just ask for help any day

He'd fix it, repair it or go get the part

He was only a phone call away.


Every Wednesday he was down at the store

Repairing stuff was his quirk

Small appliances didn't go to clients

If he couldn't get them to work.


SVDP took up a lot of his day

I don't know if he ever refused a call

The clients just kept on coming

The rest of us wanted to run down the hall.


Occasionally he would get a day off

They would pack a bag to leave town

They would meander around Wisconsin in the fall

When the colored leaves would come down.


We know that we're not perfect

But is should still be one of our goals

That was part of Jesus' message

We know "for whom the bell tolls".


For everything you've done for others

And everything you've strived to be

Accept my love and appreciation

You really tried when Jesus said "Follow Me".

post script: Roy passed away Wednesday night. His funeral is Sunday afternoon. May he rest in peace.