I entered the sanctuary, sat down in a pew and opened the bulletin. After reading just the first sentence of the paragraph on the left I paused, thinking, – this is so Bill – someone truly has captured this man’s essence.
I read on stopping a couple more times thinking again – this is so Bill. Then I took note that the words came right from the heart of his 12-year-old granddaughter, Nikki Lamb, who I hear wrote them in 10 minutes shortly after her grandpa died.
Monday morning I was among those who filled the pews in Bethel Lutheran Brethren Church to say goodbye to Bill Lamb. The entire service, music, Scripture, message, was a beautiful tribute to Bill who with his wife, Betty, has called Grand Forks home since 1957, the year the two were married in Dunseith, N.D.
Sadly, Bill died on Thanksgiving Day – just a week ago today.
I don’t recall exactly when I met Bill, who for 38 years was a State Farm Insurance agent. I’m thinking it was when I was writing stories for the Herald about the Retired Men’s Club, Germans From Russia or the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Nevertheless, it was instant friendship and always such joy to run into Bill and Betty at various functions around town or when brunching or lunching in one of our restaurants.
I always appreciate and know that proclaiming the Gospel message is vital at a funeral service, but it also moves me greatly when family members step forth to tell of not only the spiritual inheritance their loved one has left them, but also of the day-to-day pattern for leading an upstanding, wholesome life.
Living this way – was so Bill – and I believe the telling of such things sets a fine example for other families to follow.
With Luther Frette on organ, Tina Hylton on grand piano, and G. Paul Larson behind the solos (How Great Thou Art, and The Lord’s Prayer), the music at Bill’s funeral was truly beautiful as was the message by the Rev. Kenneth Schneider, Minot, N.D., who is Betty’s cousin.
I think nary a muscle moved when Matt, Bill and Betty’s son, rose to speak from the chancel area.
“It’s hard to say what needs to be said in a few words,” Matt began, breaking the ice with this: “My dad always wore a plaid shirt. I counted 33 in his closet.”
Among Matt’s loving memories of Bill were these, sometimes delivered through tears: “My dad had amazing generosity. When there wasn’t much to give, he still gave. His house was a refuge for the storm. He had a master’s degree in common sense. He hated profanity. He loved to wrestle and be crazy. He was a man of great integrity. His integrity meant the world to him. He believed in treating people the way you want to be treated. He set the stage for our own relationship with Christ. How do you measure up to a guy who never compromised his faith?”
Matt and his wife, Deb, have two other daughters besides Nikki. Ally and Jess also shared beautiful faith-filled memories and messages about their grandpa. They stirred hearts as did what Nikki wrote for the bulletin and also spoke from up front. She graciously shares her writing in its entirety here:
Grandpa’s Love – by Nikki Lamb
When I think of the word love, I think of you. I think of the love that you showed to Jesus, to your family, to your friends and really just to anyone and everyone. I am so sad that you died, but instead of being angry I have decided to be thankful for the 12 years I got to spend with you. You were my role model, my Grandpa and my friend.
You were such a kind guy to everyone. You mean so much to me and I could not have asked for a better Grandpa. I love all of the jokes and stories you told me. I thank you so much for helping me become stronger in my faith in Jesus Christ. It means a lot. I want you to know that I wish you were still here, more than anything, but I am so thankful that when I die and go to heaven I get to live forever with you and Jesus.
2 Samuel 1:23: In life they were loved and admired and in death they were not parted. They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.
Because Grandpa, even though you have died, you will still be loved and admired.
If you spell out the word Grandpa, it would be G is for great, R is for righteous man of God, A is for amazing personality, N is for nurturing, D is for dear to my heart, P is for peaceful to all, and A is for A beloved friend. These words all spell Bill Lamb, my Grandpa and my hero. I love you Grandpa.
How beautiful Nikki. Your grandpa once told me about you and your sisters and your parents. He loved all of you very much and would be so proud of what you have written for and about him.
Every word, you see, is – so Bill.