Last Thursday my best friend Greg lost his dad to a massive stroke. Jim English was not only the dad of my friend, he was my friend. I’ve gotten to know him over the last nine years and looked forward to visiting him as much as anyone. He was the type of guy that always had a story to tell and a dry sense of humor that would keep you laughing. He was the only person I knew who made ribs that I’d actually look forward to eating. He had the biggest collection of Jeff Gordon memorabilia that I’ve ever seen (hey, nobody’s perfect).
At yesterday’s memorial service I witnessed the legacy of Jim being lived out before all of us. At least 600 people packed the church as a testimony to the man that had impacted so many lives and so many generations. As Greg said during the eulogy, “The best words to describe my father are these: he loved God, and he loved people.” I heard story after story of Jim’s service in the church, of his care for his pastor, of his ministry to senior adults, of his humble, unassuming desire to help. Jim was the volunteer that all pastors would love to have: he drove the church van and carried umbrellas on rainy Sundays and organized big events because he got to, not because he had to.
Jim was a family man whose character and charisma was passed down to Jimmy & Greg and his four grandkids. He and Lue had been in love since they were twelve years old, and fifty years later he’d still get a gleam in his eye when he talked about her.
I’ll miss Jim, but I don’t grieve for Jim, because I know that right now Jim is doing what he loves to do, and that’s worshipping his God.