Friday, February 14, 2014

The Valentine Baby

This afternoon, I heard a little boy in WAL-MART call out several times excitedly, "Daddy! Daddy!" It made me miss my own father. Roger Hawley was introduced to the world on this day in 1929. He was born on Valentine's Day, got married to Mom on Christmas Day, and died on April 15th, Tax Day. In his honor, I am including two tributes written within several days of his passing in 2008.

Bob Lawrence and family moved to York, Nebraska to teach at York College when I was going in to the 8th grade. (I remember because they had a very cute daughter who was my age!) I always thought Dad and Bob, who uses words as ably as anyone who has ever lived, were very much alike. Here is what he wrote:

When I begin to describe the giant, Roger Hawley, I feel like a weak hiker standing at the foot of a mountain so high that its summit is barely visible. When we moved to York from Massachusetts in 1968, Roger was serving the East Hill congregation. There we were impressed with his devotion to study and to preaching. His delivery always equaled his content--both dependably mature and fresh. He later entered the classroom at York College where it was my privilege to profit from being colleague with him. We shared many a faculty meeting and discussion. Once, I recall having to be on the other side with him in some matter we were discussing. After he had made a deliberate and somewhat lengthy comment, I felt constrained to say, "Roger, I do believe you have given us a classic example of a 'distinction without a difference'." Nobody laughed more heartily than Roger. Anywhere or at any time I would meet him, I would be assured of good conversation, sometimes light-hearted and often substantive. Roger had the advantage of bringing to his studies in psychology a background of common sense, careful analysis and Biblical moorings. This kept him from wandering into hopeless mazes which others would have enjoyed, though useless and inextricable as they were. Our friendship was as natural, as it was, I believe, mutual. Last summer when he and Nelda were in York, he spotted Ruth and me in our garden on Delaware Avenue. He pulled up beside where we were working, stopped, got out and gave us a big hug. Alas! Nelda had to remain in the car, but we greeted her and got in return that lovely Nelda smile. We enjoyed what we did not know would be our last visit. The grace of God so admirably and completely imbued Roger that I am confident his spirit and his influence will live on and on in the hearts and lives of his devoted family and innumerable friends. He loved family, and especially his own. And now he walks in white! We shall meet again!
Grace and peace,
Bob Lawrence

Charles White was a hero of mine as a little boy. His family was also connected with York College and I spent many hours at their home, trying in vain to defeat Charles' little brother, Jim, in Whiffle Ball. At York High School, Charles was Dave's and my tennis coach. (Based on our respective records, he must have been a better coach when he worked with Dave!) Charles and his lovely wife, Pam, have spent many years as missionaries to France. These are his thoughts:

Roger Hawley was indeed a giant, as Bob Lawrence says. I confess that I had pretty much lost touch with him during the 30-plus years we have been in France. But I remember that, when we were raising funds to go to France, Roger and Nelda were selling their house in York. And Roger handed me a check for $1,000 toward our initial expenses. Since moving here, we had seen Roger only once, and then only briefly, on one of our reporting visits. Roger was already the preacher in York when my family arrived there in 1961. I was in the 10th grade. He immediately impressed me with his deep wisdom, and his ability to get it across so clearly. (Some people are wise but don't know how to communicate their wisdom; some communicate well but have nothing to say.) The depth of his personal walk with God was simply amazing. And how he loved the Word! I remember that, for one Sunday morning sermon, he walked up to the pulpit and sat down in the chair on the podium. The wooden pulpit had been removed. He looked at the congregation quite seriously for perhaps 15 seconds of silence, then proceeded to quote, from memory, the entire Sermon on the Mount. After I had finished my B. A. and returned to York to teach French in the high school, I worked with Roger on the York College MAP (Master's Apprentice Program) committee. He came by to pick me up for our early morning meetings, and he was always cheerful, even at that early hour. I remember- how do I explain this?- that he was the first adult aside from my own parents who actually made me feel like my opinion was important. Roger made me, and everyone around him, feel ... well, at ease. It was a gift he had, and that he exercised for the good of so many. I especially enjoyed working with him in group dynamics sessions with prospective MAP students. He laughed in such a contagious way. I truly think it was not possible to hear Roger Hawley laugh and not laugh with him! If there is laughter in heaven, he must be shaking the celestial vaults now. Roger and his beloved Nelda marked my family's life in a deep, abiding way. The Lord's "greats" are a blessing to His Church, and even to the world. I look forward to seeing them again.

Much love to all of you,
Charles and Pam White

God bless,
Steve (son of Roger and Nelda Hawley)
Luke 18:1
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1 comment:

Susan said...

Thank you for sharing these writings about your dad Steve! Roger and I used to discuss "intentional living" as a necessary component for living well especially in God's eyes. He and Nelda both lived intentionally and their actions always matched their words! They did it so naturally it seemed like it was effortless!