An old and good friend died suddenly yesterday. His name was Dick Everhard and I have known him for as long as I can remember. Dick and Martha were like parents to me. And the loss of Dick feels jagged and raw and at moments, almost certainly unreal.
Here are some things Dick did for me. When I was a freshman at Hiram College, he helped me get a scholarship from the Wadsworth Lions Club which paid for all of my books that first year. He was my dentist the entire time I was a student (he never let me pay him and he always sent me away with a handful of new toothbrushes and a tube of toothpaste). He and Martha drove to Hiram every semester to take me out to dinner; Dick always wanted to know what I was reading and if I had seen any good movies. After graduation, Dick and Martha made the trip to Nashville to visit me at Vanderbilt Divinity School. We went to the bookstore where Dick bought me the latest book by a favorite theologian and a Vanderbilt sweatshirt. A year later, he and Martha drove to Connecticut and stayed with me in my tiny apartment when I had my first real job as a teacher after graduate school. They traveled to Providence, Rhode Island for my ordination (Martha preached the ordination sermon, Dick cheered us both on). Martha and Dick gave me my clerical robe which I wear every Sunday in the pulpit. Dick and Martha visited my first church in Iowa where I was the pastor. They returned to Iowa a few years later for my wedding. In the past decade I have attended a yearly UCC board meeting in Cleveland. Martha and Dick would always meet me at my hotel so we could have dinner together. And finally, last summer Don and I sat on the deck at Martha and Dick’s home, a house and yard as familiar to me as the house I grew up in, laughing and talking.
In every milestone of my life, Dick was there. Encouraging, supporting, praying, caring.
Thank you, Dick. I will miss you.