Ron Dueffert Funeral Homily
Rev. Arthur Murray – Nov. 22, 2021
Read Obituary. Blessed be the life and memory of Ronald Ernest Dueffert. Amen.
Did you serve? It’s a question that is not exactly clear, but everyone knows what it means? Did you serve?
Did you serve in the armed forces? And if the answer is yes, then the usual follow-up is…? Thank you for your service.
Ron served. And as a proud veteran we thank him for his service just as I have no doubt he was thanked many times throughout his life.
One of the most well-known descriptions of Jesus is that he came not to be served but to serve.
Our faith also teaches us, that to follow Jesus, to be a Christian is to follow this same path. To serve as he served.
I don’t think it is unusual for veterans, like Ron, to carry that attitude of service into their lives following their discharge, but it certainly got my attention to hear from his family just how far Ron took this commitment to serve.
I never met him myself, but I did have the privilege of hearing about Ron through his wife, Marilyn, a number of his children and through those in this community who remember the Dueffert family well from the days when the family was a vital part of this community of faith.
To hear them tell the story, Ron was a man who would do just about anything for his wife and his family. His children shared memories of the ways he made each one of them feel special, from ferrying them to girls to their piano lessons and sitting in a cold car waiting for them in the dead of winter, to buying the boys ice fishing poles for Christmas. As they shared these stories and more, a theme began to emerge… He did that for you? He did that for me too!
Ron had a way of making people feel special, making people feel noticed, beginning with his beloved wife, extending to all seven of his children, and then radiating out beyond them to those in the community. To his extended family, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, those he welcomed as an usher at the 11am service on Sunday mornings, neighbors and co-workers, to the person standing next to him in line at the store. His ability to give, to serve, his energy for others seemed inexhaustible.
One story that the children shared stuck with me in particular. It wasn’t so much an instance as a pattern. Ron worked two jobs as we have heard. After his second job, cleaning at the Super Value on Saturday nights, he would arrive home around 4am. Ron Jr’s paper route started at 5am Sunday morning. Ron Jr. says he cannot remember a time when his dad didn’t stay up a few extra hours to join him on his paper route. They would do it together. Only after that would his dad catch a few winks of sleep before waking up to join the family for church at the 11am service.
Our faith teaches us that we are all made in God’s image. I like to imagine that each one of us, God’s works of art, reflect some particular aspect of God’s character. Ron, it seems, was given an especially generous heart to serve. That seems obvious. Perhaps a little less obvious, is that Ron must have been just given a whole lot more energy than most of us! I mean, how did he do it? Many of us would run ourselves into an early grave trying to keep the pace that he did! And yet God gave him what he needed, to live the kind of life that he was uniquely born to live. Those who knew him and loved him will be forever grateful for having been the beneficiary of his devotion, his friendship and his generous spirit.
In our gospel reading from John this morning, we hear Jesus telling his friends that he has gone on ahead to prepare a place for them. It is a place to which each of us, who are all in our own way God’s unique works of art, will one day be welcomed. It is place in which we will meet our heavenly parent face-to-face. No more masks. Then we will know God fully just as we are already fully known. And we will know with total clarity just which of God’s infinite characteristics were placed in us. Ron is in that place now.
Even as we mourn his loss, and all he meant to each person gathered here, we can entrust him into the loving arms of his Creator, who is now making time just for him, just as Ron made time for each person he loved. And Ron will know in the clearest way, what he always suspected, that every time he did an act of service for anyone of us, he was, in fact, doing it for God.
And then he will hear those words, well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy that has been prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Or as we might say, thank you, Ron, for your service. Amen.