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June 17th, 2019

gary damronMY PERSPECTIVE, Gary Damron

 

Ed grew up in a tiny town in southeast Colorado, left school after the 8th grade, joined the Navy and retired a Master Chief. An apprenticeship as a teenager started his rise through the ranks of each company who employed him, to upper management in the aerospace industry.  He told his son the secret to success was to “pay attention, work hard and learn three different jobs in each department where you work.” Modest in later life, he told us, “I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.” 

This early interest in electronics, his inquisitiveness and drive led to assignments around the world. He was connected with the Titan and Saturn rockets, and the launching of early space satellites. Ed was involved from the beginning with the Mercury and Apollo manned spaceflights.  He was a project manager on various aspects of the Viking Mars lander, and the first space shuttles. Yet his choice to be near family brought him in his last days to a senior care center a few miles from where his life began. 

Ed had married my wife’s aunt at the age of 17, and his mother-in-law always said, “He’s mine since I raised him!” 

Thirteen years ago when we moved to southwest Kansas, one of the benefits was that we were closer to in-laws in Colorado. Every few months we were able to visit Ed, the last time in September when we stopped in on our way home from Yellowstone. Almost 93 years old, he still read extensively, kept up with the news, and was enthusiastic about what was going on in our lives. We ended each visit with prayer, and his precious sense of acceptance and love for us. 

Ed’s passing closed the book on my mother-in-law’s generation. One of the “Greatest Generation”, he had lived through the depression and served his country during World War II and Korea. Friends and family members at two memorial services spoke of their experiences with him. I was privileged to share a short message using scriptures from the Book of John. 

Jesus’ disciple John explained 2,000 years ago his reasons for the book: “…these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). 

“To all who did receive Jesus, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). 

“‘The Son of Man [Jesus] must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’” (John 3:14-16). 

“‘I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live’” (John 5:24-25). 

“‘I am the door; if anyone enters through me, he will be saved, … I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly’” (John 10:9-10). 

“‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die’” (John 11:25-26). 

At each visit, Ed always asked questions, since I’m a pastor, about “how this whole dying thing works”. I trust that truths from my favorite book helped strengthen faith and confidence in his final days. 

Theologians for centuries have expounded on these scriptures and have written theories of soul sleep, etc. But the fact is that Ed now has more first-hand knowledge than any of us left behind. He lived an abundant life, and today we envision him in the right place, the right time, face to face with our Savior. 

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