I learned last week that my Uncle Harold died. The “old people’s friend,” pneumonia, had ended his life.  He departed quietly, in the same manner as he entered this world and lived his 88 years. A generation or two of time will likely erase his memory, captured by three quiet paragraphs in his obituary:

Harold was an active and faithful member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Bonduel. He worked at local cheese factories until 1953 when Harold and [his wife] Connie purchased a farm located by White Clay Lake. From 1960 to 1976 he also worked for Gabes Construction, a natural gas pipeline construction company.

After he retired from Gabes, he and Connie continued to farm until 1986 when their barn was destroyed by fire. They continued to live on the farm while renting out the land. During this period of his life he worked as a handyman in the area. In 2007 he moved to Meadow View in Bonduel and on Nov. 3, 2010, he moved to Birch Hill Care Center in Shawano.

Harold enjoyed traveling, playing dartball, and playing cards with his friends, his grandchildren, and great-grandchild.

Uncle Harold was a good man, quiet and unassuming, one of the “meek” of whom Jesus spoke in His beatitude (Matt. 5:5). He probably never held a copy of the Book of Concord in his hands. He would have listened with interest but probably not participated in a discussion of Law and Gospel or the two natures of Christ. He was just “an active and faithful member” who will now receive that “crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge” (2 Tim. 4:8) will award him on Judgment Day.

I mention Uncle Harold as a tribute to all of the “active and faithful members” of our Lord’s church on earth who await “that day,” who have “fought the good fight,” who have pretty much “finished the course,” who have throughout the ups and downs of life “kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). I mention Uncle Harold to call them to mind while they finish their course, who would surely be encouraged by a pastoral visit this week or a hand of Schafskopf with a friend.

Ray Hartwig