Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Passing of Three Dear Friends

This blog posting is much more personal than most, but perhaps you will let me use this opportunity to share with you about the passing of three dear friends this month.

On April 5 we received the news that Norma Young, 77, our friend and longtime missionary associate in Japan had passed away. We were not particularly surprised at the news, for she had been battling brain tumors for quite some time, and recently we had received word than she was in hospice care. Still, it was sad to hear of her passing, and our prayers are with her husband, Hugh.
Then on April 11 we received this shocking email message: The family of Clyde and Nancy Tilley wish to inform you of their passing. They died one day apart on April 9 and 10 of natural causes. Their funeral service is 7:30 pm Friday evening, April 12th at Smith Mortuary in Maryville, TN.”
Like Norma, Nancy, 76, had been in poor health for some time, so her passing was not completely unexpected. But we didn’t know that Clyde, 78, had been seriously ill, and he was the one who passed first. Perhaps it was more than Nancy’s weak heart could stand when she heard of Clyde’s passing, for she died the next day.
Among other things, Norma was a cartoonist, and a number of her cartoons were published in “The Commission,” the SBC missions magazine. Later, her cartoons were more widely used in “The Baptist Peacemaker,” the publication of the Baptist Peacemakers Fellowship of North America (BPFNA).
My friend Ken Sehested, who was the founding (in 1984) Executive Director of the BPFNA, sent me the following cartoon, which was Norma’s first one to be published in “The Baptist Peacemaker.” 
The kingdom of God first? Really first?! How inconvenient!!

Clyde was a university professor for much of his adult life and a pastor before, during, and after his years on a university faculty. He was also an author, his main book being “The Surpassing Righteousness: Evangelism and Ethics in the Sermon on the Mount” (1992). His main teaching position was at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.
In addition, Clyde also served on the board of directors of Habitat for Humanity International (from 1980 to 1991) and was a supporter of BPFNA. Perhaps it was in 1986 that I flew to Tennessee to visit him and Nancy, and he and I then drove to Virginia to attend that summer’s BPFNA “peace camp.”
Nancy’s sphere of influence was more local, but she was one of the most caring persons I have ever known, greatly concerned about the well-being of not only her children and, later, her grandchildren, but of all people, local and far away, who were in spiritual and/or material need.
All of us who knew Norma, Nancy, and/or Clyde miss them greatly. But we are thankful for their influential lives and for the blessing of knowing them personally.
Reflecting on the passing of these dear friends, all of whom were born in the same decade as I, leads me to appreciate even more the words of Henri Amiel (1821-81), the Swiss philosopher: “Life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us, so be quick to love and make haste to be kind.”


  1. I'm sorry for the loss of your friends. Your column is a nice tribute to them.

  2. Leroy,

    May I also pay tribute to two others who died last week, both Baptists and missions supporters?

    First is Dr. Harvey Thomas, a longtime member of Second Baptist Church and graduate(class of 1947)/trustee of William Jewell. Harvey was a dedicated churchman and supporter of mission endeavors both internationally and locally. Harvey was a pioneer in the field of industrial psychology. He died Tuesday, 17 April after a relatively recent cancer diagnosis.

    The next day, the 18th, came word of the death of Dr. Dorothy Truex. She, too, was a William Jewell graduate (class of 1936). Her parents were Missouri Baptist leaders: her father, Chester, was a pastor in central and northwest Missouri; her mother, Madge, was the secretary of Missouri Woman's Missionary Union. The Madge Truex Missions Fund continues to raise support for missions work in Missouri. Dorothy was a pioneer in the student affairs work of higher education. She was Dean of Women at Mercer, University of Oklahoma and University of Arkansas-Little Rock. She had two brothers, Everett and John.

    These were two national leaders in their professions, but local to many of us with strong connections WJC and support of missions.

    1. Thanks, David, for your calling attention to other noteworthy people who have just passed away.

      June and I also grieve at the passing of Dr. Thomas, whom we have considered a friend from soon after we moved to Liberty, and we pray God's comforting presence to be with his widow, Irene.

      And although I never knew Dorothy Truex, except by name, my family and I have been recipients of benefits provided by the Madge Truex Missions Fund many times.

  3. Thinking Friend Glenn Hinson wrote,

    "I share your sorrow, Leroy. I didn't know Norma, but Clyde and Nancy were dear friends. They made the world better."