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Remembering Dad Stone
February 21, 2004
As we met with Pastor George to plan this service,
during the process of recollecting and remembering,
discussions of family vacations stirred my brother-in-
law, Jim to share his continued love & fascination with
cars. As a young boy, on their family’s treks across
the country, it seemed that Jim could name just about
every make and model of car that passed by. And, he
proudly acknowledged that he retains this ability
today. But, he also admitted that his love and
fascination with cars had been impacted by a trait
acquired from his dad.
Even though there remain many makes and models of new cars that he would just love to buy
and drive and enjoy, he just can’t seem to find good reason to discard an old car until every last
mile is drained out of it. All three of his family’s cars have over 100,000 miles on them – some,
well over 100,000 miles! But, like his dad, why throw something away if it still works.
Indeed, if Dad found something he liked, he stuck with it. No change just for the sake of change.
Stick with the tried and true. It was said his Swedish heritage included a dominant gene for
stubbornness. Well, in this regard it served him well in his resolute, steadfast, and unwavering
determination to remain true to his convictions. And, like his penchant for holding on to his old
cars, some of his other convictions could bring a smile to the rest of us. That no good food ever
need be tarnished by onions or garlic, that salads need be dressed with little more than lemon
juice and that nothing tastes better than a nice piece of cheese. And, that most good colors were
some shade of brown.
Yes, when Dad found something he liked, he stuck with it loyally! I
think Dad found a lot about the decades of the 40’s and 50’s that he
liked, and he stuck with them. His hairstyle. His taste in music.
But, he also found some good, old-fashioned values and character
traits in these earlier times of his life, and he stuck with them with
unyielding faith as well.
Old fashioned values such as kindness and gentleness, as being
considerate, of being a man of peace, and of love.
I will always think of Dad as a both a gentle man and a gentleman. He was gentle – his sincere
concern and compassion expressed in the manner and tone of his words, and by the softness and
gracefulness of his touch. He was also a true gentleman – his manner and demeanor always
reflected his understanding of their impact on others.
I will forever remember Dad as a man of peace. His experiences as a 20-year-old youth during
the Battle of the Bulge in WWII left a deep and lasting impact. Until recent years he spoke &
shared little of these life-changing experiences. But what few words he shared spoke volumes
about his belief that war was never a desirable goal but rather a sad, very sad reflection of man’s
fallen nature, and our inability to otherwise resolve disputes through non-violent means. He
recognized that our country’s involvement in WWII was necessary to free the world of Hitler’s
tyranny, but his up-close and personal exposure to the carnage and killing taught him that man’s
penchant for war was a sign of our human failure and not of God’s intended will.
Dad was a kind and considerate man. Anyone’s life who crossed paths with Bill Stone’s most
assuredly would have their own stories to share of his acts of kindness and consideration. Over
the nearly 30 years that our lives crossed, I’ve accumulated many such stories. Of all these, I
suppose few will ever mean more to me that the kindness and consideration he showed my
mother and father, especially during the last couple years of their lives. My mother’s body had
suffered the ravages of age and my father was dealing with the consequences of cancer. It was
neat to see the common bond that had been forged between my two dads. Two WWII veterans
helping each other navigate the myriad processes
involved in getting the Veterans Administration to assist
with the ever-growing list of prescription medicines that
each required. And when the need arose, my father-in-
law stepped up to get my dad down to the Cleveland
Clinic for some of his regular doctor and treatment
visits. I easily recall my mother’s simple proclamation
after one such time, “Bill Stone is a very considerate
man.” Even even this simple bit of praise would have
embarrassed dad Stone – he was a very humble man. But my mother’s words couldn’t have
painted a clear picture of his true character.
And, Dad was a loving man. The familiar New Testament verses from I Corinthians, Chapter 13
read by Rev Berry are far more likely to be included as part of one’s wedding than one’s
memorial service. But, these words used by St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians to give depth
of meaning to the concept of love, also define the nature and character of Bill’s life:
Bill was patient and kind, but was not jealous or boastful.
Dad was not arrogant, or rude, or selfish.
Grandpa was not easily angered and he kept no record of our wrongs. Grandpa relished the
truth and never rejoiced over injustice.
Bill protected. Dad trusted. Grandpa hoped and he endured.
Bill’s love, Dad’s love, Uncle Bill’s love, Grandpa’s love, never failed.
For me, I’ll always remember the time Dad Stone helped me with plans for one of my wife,
Susan’s milestone birthdays. I wanted to decorate our yard with the appropriate number of lawn
ornaments. You know the type. Sometimes people get pink flamingos or elephants or some
other goofy thing to bring attention to the special day. I wanted to have teapots. And, I knew
just who upon to call. It was not until the project was almost complete that my father-in-law
wryly noted, “I suppose there’s some special significance for Susan about teapots.” Yes, there
is. But it didn’t really matter to him that he hadn’t known or understood exactly what it was. All
he needed to know was that I felt it would make Susan’s day
special. My two kids enjoyed watching and assisting their
Grandpa with the project. Each teapot placard decorated
uniquely, with even some spelling out the words, “Happy
Birthday” and with candles atop.
But perhaps the best testament to Dad’s love was the spirit
and enthusiasm revealed by his grandkids and grand-dogs in
their efforts to secure the warm and comforting spot next to
their grandpa in his living room chair. Or, if they were so
lucky, upon his lap, within his loving arms. Yes, I did
include his grand-dogs, Cindy and Mickey. Perhaps dogs are man’s best friend, but Grandpa
Stone was most assuredly their best friend.
But his children and his grandkids need not only know how much they loved their dad, their
grandpa, but it is also important that they know how much he dearly loved each one of them,
how much joy he took in their visits, their phone calls, their letters and cards.
Jim – Engineer stuck to the straight and true path
Susan – assistance with b-day and Xmas gifts for her mother
Grandkids – cards, projects, pictures
Will – lending a strong, helping hand
We all knew Dad, Grandpa, was a very organized and thoughtful saver. This process of
preparation for today’s service has shed even greater light on this trait. Anything, however
insignificant it might seem to us, if it had significance for him, he had it saved, filed or stored in
his organized fashion and it its proper place. This thing you can be sure – your dad, your
grandpa, maintains a special place in the files of his soul for the great joy each one of you
brought him. I’m sure he’s got these files very clearly labeled: Jim – Susan - Will – Katie –
Clare – and, Kristen. Each one overflowing with the joy he derived from his relationship with
each of you.
I know today, our hearts ache with the loss of our
loved one – a devoted husband of 54 years, a loving
father, a caring and adoring grandpa, a warm &
supportive uncle, a loyal, trusted brother and friend.
But I also know full well, that if Dad were
physically here with us today, he would, in his own
quiet way, attend to each of our broken hearts. I
can see him at his desk or workbench, gently
holding our hearts in his loving hands and studying
them under his work light. Carefully drawing up his plans, endeavoring to address every & all
facets of the task. Somewhere alongside him, his supply of glue, duct tape, and assorted
fasteners. And finally, proceeding - meticulously and tenderly - to make the needed repairs,
driven by his own kind, considerate heart with single-minded determination to make our broken
hearts whole, once again.
True, Dad no longer has a physical presence here on earth with us. After having squeezed every
last mile out of his earthly body, he finally accepted the time was right to get that new model
God had awaiting for him in heaven. But, God continues to have tasks for his newest engineer.
In fact, I think God holds a special place for those that have been raised in a carpenter’s home. I
believe God keeps Dad, his good and faithful servant, on call for special repairs. He’s there to
give God a hand in mending our saddened, wounded hearts. Dad’s careful plans are but a prayer
away. Our treasured memories – treasured memories of a husband, father, grandpa, brother,
uncle, and friend – treasured memories that are now Dad’s tools through which he’ll do God’s
work to heal our heavy hearts.