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A HERO GOES HOME

November 14, 2011 1 comment

Just a few hours into the day after Veterans Day, a Hero took his last breath and slipped away into the arms of Jesus. If Dick Taylor knew I was writing these words about him, he would be modest and a little embarrassed by my reference to him as a hero. But in the few months I have known him, that’s what he was to me.

I met Dick on February 19, 2011, in his home where the pulpit committee of the First Baptist Church of Palos Verdes was gathering to interview my wife and me, to decide if they wanted me to be their Pastor.  Dick was just recovering from a wicked bout of pneumonia, but his weakened state could not hide the kindness in his eyes and the strength of his love for Christ. My wife Sue and I were immediately drawn to him. I actually think we were meeting the nicest guy in world.

I had the joy of being Dick Taylor’s pastor for just over four months. He had been a member of the church longer than anybody, and was currently serving as a member of the Elder Board and the Financial Secretary.  Each Sunday when it came to the Prayer for the offering, Dick would stand and read a prayer he had meticulously written for that moment. He wanted to get it right. I think he thought that it was the least he could do for the Lord, and that God deserved his very best.

It was almost by accident that I discovered Dick was a veteran of World War II. I didn’t think he was that old, I mean he was just too sharp to be 86. Not only was he a veteran, but also a survivor of a German POW camp. Dick was captured on December 19, 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge, and at age 19, spent the duration of the war as a laborer for his captors with barely enough warmth and food to sustain him. But Dick emerged from that trial with knowledge of God’s sustaining love that he hadn’t had before, a knowledge that would support him for the rest of his life, even when facing the deaths of his beloved wife Polly, and his daughter Nancy.

When I think of Dick, I think of Jesus. When I would meet with Dick I felt the gentleness and goodness of Christ about him. I often told him that when I grew up I wanted to be like him, probably because he was very much like Christ especially when it really counted. He loved his family, he loved his church, he loved his friends, and he loved his Lord. He was quiet,
dignified and unassuming, but everyone who knew him, knew him as a dear friend.

He is a Hero not because of World War II, but because of who he was in Christ. The fruit of his life was a testimony to Jesus everyday.

I wonder as he took his last breath and began to experience the joys of eternity and a reunion with Polly and Nancy, if he realized how much he would be missed by his family and the rest of us he left behind. Did he know of our love for him? Did he know the difference he made in all our lives? I would hope so.

On November 12, 2011, God took a Hero home to be with Him and we are glad for Dick…but he will be missed.

Blessings, Pastor Joel

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