God’s Special Gifts


Presents

Today I’m writing about a number of people I’ve known for many years. All of them passed away within the past few months. All but one died in Texas. A few details about each are included under my signature at the end of this article. Here are some basic facts:

  • Wilson Whiteside, 97, passed away in Dallas December 22 after a lengthy illness.
  • Rev. Kim DeVries, 64, passed away in San Antonio suddenly January 1 while jogging.
  • Rev. Dr. Michael Snow, 71, passed away in Houston January 21, 2015 after a lengthy illness.
  • Milton Cockrum, 87, passed away in Georgetown January 25 after a lengthy illness.
  • Sharon Doering, 46, passed away in Round Rock January 27 after suffering more than seven years with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
  • Dr. Keith Loomans, 83, passed away in Austin February 5 after a lengthy illness.
  • Orene Easterday, 86, a dear friend of our family for many years, passed away in southern Illinois February 8 after a lengthy battle with dementia.

This is only a partial list. Each of you no doubt could write your own list of people you know and love who have passed away, recently or a long time ago. Each, in some way, left behind a legacy of family members, friends, professional, vocational and spiritual endeavors.

It’s a reality that people make a lasting impact on other people. It’s also a fact that the death of people with whom a close relationship has been developed makes another lasting impact.

It’s my hope and prayer that this brief article will provide a gentle reminder for each of us to thank God for the life of those who are near and dear to us. They are God’s special gifts!

******************************************************************************

Wilson Whiteside, 97, passed away in Dallas December 22, 2014. He was very active at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Dallas and other charitable organizations. Wilson served as chairman of the Texas Church Extension Fund and was almost always accompanied by Marilyn, his dear wife of 59 years.

Rev. Kim DeVries, 64, passed away suddenly in San Antonio January 1 while jogging, though seemingly in excellent health. Kim had been pastor of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in San Antonio for 30 years. He left his wife Cathy, two sons, their wives, two grandsons and other family members to mourn his passing.

Rev. Dr. Charles Michael Snow, 71, died January 21, 2015 after a lengthy illness. Mike was a retired pastor who served Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Longview and Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Houston. He was a good friend for many years and is survived by his wife Clara, a faithful pastor’s wife, along with their children and grandchildren.

Milton Cockrum, 87, passed away in Georgetown January 25 after a lengthy illness. Milton and his wife Josephine, together with two of their children, Bradley and Patty Dee, were charter members of the congregation Terry and I started in Georgetown, Tex. in 1981—Faith Lutheran Church. I performed the marriage of Patty Dee and Doug Groves 30 years ago!

Sharon Doering, 46-year old wife of Terry’s cousin Jeff Doering, passed away in Round Rock January 27 after more than seven years with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Jeff, their children Thomas, Gracie and Hayden, with assistance from Jeff’s parents Sonny and Laverne and other family members, were godly examples of faithfulness in caring for their dear loved one!

Dr. Keith Loomans, 83, retired Executive Director of Parish Services of the Texas District of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, passed away in Austin February 5 after a lengthy illness. Keith and I worked together for many years before and during my time as District President. He was a blessing to many and his wife Margie still is!

Orene Easterday, 86, a dear friend of our family for many years, passed away February 8 after a lengthy battle with dementia. Orene and her husband Dave lived in Nokomis, Ill., along with their children Dan, Marc, Ken, and Christi. They were Terry’s and my family away from home during our years at Concordia Theological Seminary, then in Springfield, Ill. Orene and Dave were baptismal sponsors for our daughter Angie in 1970. They were genuine blessings to us, to our family and to many others!

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