his Life

From the Wife

Jim was a complex man (and that’s not a downer).

We first met as serious students at the University of Florida, riding home in the same car for a weekend break.  I talked to the driver, and Jim listened in the back seat.  At the end of the ride, I was wishing I’d gotten to know him better.  Little did I know I would have 58 years to get to know him.  I was never bored --- always impressed with the variety of his interests and abilities.  Our first activity together on returning to school was a tennis “date”.  (His serve topped mine.)  That was good!

We studied together.  He always “derived” his formulas on the homework and tests.  That was good!  (I had to memorize mine.)  He was an electrical engineer co-op student at Texas Instruments in Dallas, Texas.  That was GOOD!  (It demonstrated a good work ethic!)  He was well-mannered and looked like Audie Murphy, my childhood cowboy hero!

He wasn’t forward!  That was good! (That would have frightened me!)  He joined me in singing in the choir on Sunday morning at the Methodist Student Center.  He had a wonderful tenor voice – not professional.  That was good, too, for some reason (mine wasn’t professional, either).

As we hung out together, I realized he was LOYAL!  (and I was checking things off a list I didn’t even know I had!)  Well, he got his master’s degree while waiting for me to finish college (redeeming the time).  That was good!  We had a big wedding, and that same day we struck out for the University of Florida football field to get our degrees.  Then, we headed out for a honeymoon on a dude ranch in Colorado!  He planned the whole trip in beautiful detail.  That was good too, because my family never took trips like that!

Life was good.  Jim loved his work, and I was quitting my job soon to begin a family.

Jim thoroughly enjoyed his lifelong hobby of operating a ham radio.  He eventually used his skills for Asbury College students to contact their missionary parents on the field in South America.  He was a lifelong member of IEEE, keeping up with continuing education in his field.  When computers hit the technical world, he jumped right onto it and took classes and learned new programs to prepare himself for this new world which he loved.

After our first son was born, he had a time of newly reflecting on the seriousness of being a father and all the responsibilities of caring for a family.  It scared him.  This deep reflection led to a spiritual awakening that was quite surprising.  He was searching for what to do with it.  Church leaders said he should go to seminary!  Having every confidence in his decision, I was ready to follow him in this “spiritual adventure”.  (I thought, “That's good!  He’s flexible and fearless.")  This became the most challenging part of our life together.  But God had a plan.  There were about 6 years of growing and drawing near to God in a deeper way which we would never have known under different circumstances.  This journey culminated in a life-changing encounter that fulfilled a desire in Jim which continued to grow for his remaining years – to truly know God.

At some point, he began to progressively lose his ability to speak clearly.  He privately suspected he had had a mini-stroke in his sleep. 

As he neared retirement, he looked forward to teaching the new-found understanding of the Scriptures he had been studying.  He began to express them in one-page writings which he called “Brief Insights”.  They were to be a gift to his children by which to remember him.  Along the way, others read, appreciated, and asked for copies.  This experience fulfilled his later-in-life chance to TEACH!  He had a way of making the Scriptures palatable to those for whom they weren’t.  He became my favorite teacher.  He was not ashamed of the gospel!

He had come a long way from a fine computer programmer who was once assigned the job of creating a program to turn space station urine into palatable water to drink!

From the elder son

My father left a real legacy.   He always sought to serve God as best as he could.   He was strict, but fair, and had a strong sense of justice and wanting to stand up for the underdog.  He sought to use his finite resources to help others in need.   He loved learning, and sought to instill in his children a love of books and education - one of his favorite sayings when I was little was "books are your friends."          

Memories from Elizabeth

Dad cared about rearing us in the “fear and admonition of the Lord”.  We weren’t shuffled off to children’s church: we sat with our parents.  For a while we did church in our living room, taking turns reading sections of scripture, and praying for the Suffering Church.  We attended seminars on family life and Christian principles.  We home-schooled, starting in 1979, before it was legal in Alabama!  Apparently, my parents’ example in this area is what inspired many others in the Huntsville community to homeschool.  What a legacy!

As a small girl, I remember hugs, and “zerbits” on my neck, and sitting on Dad’s lap at the table after supper.  It is heart-warming to know that Dad enjoyed us kids so much he wished he’d had more.  (I took that value and ran with it, huh?)  I remember how excited Dad was about becoming a Grandpa.  He visited us many times in Lawton, OK, to see the little ones, and was thrilled when we finally moved back to Huntsville and settled in their neighborhood.

Many of my interests were nurtured by my dad.  When he let me help flip the Saturday morning pancakes at age nine, he probably sparked my interest in cooking.  He personally taught me piano until I knew all he did, then he paid for me to continue lessons with someone else.  I absolutely loved sitting down with him and banging out Scott Joplin duets.

Dad taught me a bit about taking care of cars.  He walked each of us through how to change a tire.  He taught me the value of paying attention to engine lights by letting me pay for the damage done when I ignored the temperature gauge on a trip home from college!  (I was so close!  After 2 hours with no light, I thought the last 20 minutes wouldn’t hurt.  And that was before cell phones.  Was I just supposed to pull over and sit on the side of the road by myself?!)

Dad taught us absolute honesty.  Even as a teen, I had to report all babysitting and lawnmowing income to the IRS and pay applicable self-employment tax!  And if a stamp ever made it through the mail without being cancelled, we didn’t reuse it, we threw it away.

Dad set an example of following God whole-heartedly.   When he found Christ as a young adult, he left an engineering career to attend seminary and serve God.  Dissatisfied with church politics behind the scenes, he left that to explore Christian community life.  Then he led the family in several years of pursuing the Jewish roots of the Christian faith.  Later, he embraced Torah-keeping as a loving act of obedience to God.  I respect the fact that what he did, he did whole-heartedly.

It was very difficult to see how my Dad was a victim of the aging process.  Strokes left him with altered personality.  I am so glad to know he is now free from suffering.  Now he does not see “through a glass darkly”.  He sees Christ face to face.  He is singing “Holy, holy, holy” before the throne of God.  I look forward to meeting Dad in eternity, the glorious completed personality that God created him to be!