Recently the pastor of our Bryan Church, Rev. Roger Blough, went to be with the Lord after a relatively brief battle with pancreatic cancer. Our hearts go out to his wife Jackie and their son Jason. Many of us were privileged to have Roger as a dear friend, and thus we grieve, too.
Below is a slight adaptation of a portion of the eulogy I presented at Pastor Roger’s memorial service.
“There were some dark threads woven into the tapestry of his life. Roger knew the hurt of a broken home due to his dad leaving the family when Roger was a small boy. His mom, Grace, whom Roger deeply loved, found work in Cleveland, and Roger went from Michigan to live with her. When he was a junior in high school, his mom had a surgery that was supposed to be relatively easy. However, instead she died. He now had no parent. This deeply affected Roger and he became distrustful of God for several years.
“However, Roger had a friend named Don whose parents, Bill and Charlotte Boger, knew Roger and his situation, and they took him in. This was a defining event in his life. Several years ago, Roger and I were on a missions trip to Cuba. He had just come from the Bogers, who had moved to Fort Myers, FL in their retirement. In preparation for the memorial service, I scrolled back through Facebook because I remembered an entry he made at that time. It read: “Thankful for several days in Fort Myers with dad and mom (Bill and Char Boger). I am so blessed they took me in and loved me like their own kids.”
“Roger had come to know firsthand the life-changing, life-giving value of acceptance, of being welcomed, of affirmation, of validation. Because of this experience the trait of acceptance and affirmation became a primary, if not signature characteristic of Roger’s. Even last evening at the viewing, with no prompting at all on my part, came the stories both firsthand and secondhand of how this trait of Roger’s had meant so much to so many … from police officers to children to hope-to-be-preachers. Roger validated the worth, the person, the strengths of others.
“Sometimes we talk at times like this about the person passing still living in each of us. I am not always so sure about that, but I will say this: If ever I hoped that happens, it is today. How blessed we would be, and what a blessing we would be, if that spirit and practice of accepting others, believing in others, of affirming others, validating others, of investing in others that was so much of Roger would be parceled out among us.”
At the start of 2018 Roger seemed perfectly well. His death is another poignant reminder of life’s uncertainties. However, his life causes me to consider the kind of person I want to be in 2019 and beyond, if I should be granted such: one who ‘looks for the best in others and usually finds it,’ and then helps them live to become their very best.