21 November 2022

The Lives of Great Men

 Earlier this month, a dear man in my life unexpectedly died.  His wife, Ellen, asked me to speak at his funeral.  It was an honor and a privilege.  I have re-created below, to the best of my ability, my remarks.  As Ellen said afterwards, "As John would have wanted, you didn't read from a transcript, but do the best you can to transcribe it for me."  

The funeral order of service called my remarks "A Word of Witness" - how perfectly appropriate. My  Methodist brothers and sisters will teach me new things when I least expect it.  

A Word of Witness at the Funeral Service for John Wilson Winkle 

When Ellen was in touch this past weekend to let me know that we would too soon lose John,  I was untethered.  I went into a Faulnerian, southern gothic wailing and mourning.  I took to the bed.  In the early part of the week, after John had died, I would tell friends when they asked about my puffy face, "Dr. Winkle, a beloved professor of mine, died unexpectedly."   And it seemed odd to me that I was wracked with sobs for a man I kept referring to by his surname.

When Ellen was in touch to ask if I would represent John's students here today, I realized why I was untethered.  It was because of that exact tension.  For hundreds, if not thousands, John Winkle was that beautiful harmony of authority and friend.  

And in that, he imaged his Creator.