We gather this afternoon to mourn the loss and to remember and celebrate the life of Lowell C. Blythe.
Our source of strength and comfort today comes from the Lord. Listen carefully and take to heart what our Lord Jesus said,
Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my fathers house are many mansions; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go and prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. You know the way to the place where I am going . . . Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:1-6)
And let these words from the Apostle Paul sink in,
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8)
This is the basis of our hope and our confidence today. In truth, we find comfort even in loss. Will you pray with me?
Our Father, we turn to you this afternoon. Our hearts are heavy once again and we need your strength. Remind us again of your promises. Stir within us the confidence of life beyond the grave.
Lord, help us today as we seek to see beyond the pain. Lowell Blythe has been such a strong man. He has remained steady in the storms and in the successes. We miss that strength today. We have watched Lowell in the sadness of grief and the weakness of disease, now help us to imagine him in the joy of reunion. Help us as we remember both Lowell and what you have prepared for him and for us. For we ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Mr. Lowell C. Blythe was born on June 16, 1924 in Stillwell, Illinois, the son of Clarence and Dena Prather Blythe. He graduated from LaHarpe High School in 1942. From early on Lowell was a man who loved the farm and was willing to work hard.
On April 18, 1945 he married the love of his life, Marcia L. Kern at her parents home near Terre Haute, Illinois. Lowell and Marcia were teenagers when they met at a church bowling party. Lowell liked to tell people how he picked her up for their first date in a feed truck.
It didn’t take Lowell long to realize that this was the woman he wanted to spend his life with. When Marcia went to Gem City College in Quincy he found all kinds of reasons to be in Quincy on business. And when she took a job in Champaign, Lowell pursued her and asked her to be his wife. He would tell you that this was the best decision he ever made.
Lowell farmed all of his life near Disco, Illinois. He was a member of the American Charolais Association, the American Turkey Federation, the Poland China Association and both the Illinois and National Cattlemen’s Association. He was a charter member and past Secretary of the Hancock County Cattlemen’s Association and was named Cattleman of the Year in 1996. He also served many years as 4-H leader, as Sunday School Superintendent of the Disco United Methodist Church and was a faithful member of the Union Church of La Harpe.
Lowell would consider his greatest legacy to be his family. He is survived by,
3 daughters Mrs. Max (Linda) Comstock of Springfield Illinois; Donna Jo Lydy of Loveland, Ohio; Mrs. Rick (Julie) Jarvis of Mahomet, Illinois 3 sons: Gary Blythe and his wife Cheryl, Robert Blythe and his wife Paula of LaHarpe, and Brian Blythe of Miami, Florida. 14 wonderful Grandchildren, And one sister, Opal Peyron of Richardson, Texas.
Lowell C. Blythe was a wonderful man. He believed in hard work but he also believed in enjoying the journey called life. It seemed like Lowell always had a broad smile and a playful twinkle in his eye.
Lowell was a successful farmer. He began with two hens and a tom turkey and his operation grew to 80,000 turkeys a year. When the turkeys were sold in the fall he would bring in lambs to raise over the winter.
Lowell was a student of livestock. He read, he studied and he loved the animals. He enjoyed all of the different livestock he raised over the years. When turkey processing plants in the area closed down, Lowell concentrated on raising cattle. He could go out into any pasture and distinguish the different animals from each other. He could tell you where he bought each animal and what that animal’s history was since he’s owned it.
Lowell had a great business sense. He always seemed to know when to get into a business and when to get out. He expanded slowly and systematically. He always advised his children, “Don’t waste your money.”
Lowell was enormously strong. And surely much of that came from all those days of carting turkeys and working with 100 pound bags of feed.
He was a focused man. He made up his mind and then went in the direction he decided to go. He put work before play so he could concentrate on play without distraction. He believed Sunday was a day of rest. You did your chores, but that was it.
To Lowell life was good when you could go to a cattle sale or drive around and check on the cows. Lowell loved his work. But he was so much more than his work.
Lowell was devoted to his wife. Lowell and Marcia looked forward to laying in bed at night where they discussed the day. He loved to eat and enjoyed everything his wife cooked. The two of them enjoyed spending time together.
Lowell and Marcia dated frequently throughout their marriage. They traveled with various tour groups. They made trips to Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Hawaii, Jamaica and all over the continental United States. They traveled with Brian to Europe. And when Brian was asked, “what are you going to do in Europe with those old people . . . his simple response was, “I’m going to try to keep up.” When they went to Mexico with Gary and Cheryl, Lowell took a walk on the beach but never took his shoes and socks off.
Lowell and Marcia went to movies regularly. They enjoyed the concerts at the Old Threshers gathering each year, went to the Wagon Wheel Opry, and enjoyed the occasional dinner theater in Farmington. They took a hot air balloon ride for their 35th wedding anniversary. And even went snow skiing for the first (and last) time at 60 years old. Lowell and Marcia enjoyed life together. We will never understand the depth of loneliness Lowell felt when she died a year ago.
Lowell was a fun dad. As much as he loved his work, he loved his family more. He worked to provide for his family. He wasn’t concerned about them having the most . . . but he did want them to have the best when it came to opportunities. He wanted them all to get their schooling so they could do what they wanted to do.
Lowell insisted that his kids all help with the family farm. They all had their jobs. And when it came to the Turkey operation, they had to work together. But it wasn’t all work. There was a lot of fun along the way.
If you walked by the bathroom door while Lowell was shaving he’d come running after you so he could rub his face full of shaving cream against yours. And later at night he liked grabbing you and giving you a whisker-rub. He did it to his children and his grandchildren.
He loved to take the kids fishing. It didn’t matter where they fished . . . just THAT they fished. Lowell told all the kids that the key to successful fishing was to “spit on the worms before you cast.” He skinned the fish while you were still there and the more squeamish you were, the more fun he had been pointing out the “floaters” inside the fish.
When Lowell would come in at night and was told that he needed to discipline the children, he never had to say much. The problem was that when Lowell heard what the kids had done, he often thought they had been quite clever and found it hard to restrain his laughter.
Lowell and Marcia welcomed the partners their children found with open arms. Family was family. Period. They adored their grandchildren. Lowell loved to take them along with him when he did chores. He really liked the fact that he had them to get out of the truck and open and close the gates. Some of the grandkids remember how Grandpa would take a break from the chores so he could go “empty his radiator.”
Grandpa was more than willing to let the grandkids who he called “stinky feet,” try all kinds of things. He’d put them on the back of a bull, let them walk around with the animals (but when they fell in the cow piles they had to ride in the back of the truck), and even told them they could climb the Silo (though he never thought Bethany would do it!) When you walked by Grandpa he was likely to trip you and give you a fun spanking. You might find him on all fours acting like a wild bucking bronco. But if rode that Bronco you better hang on because he was going to give you a wild ride. It seemed like Marcia was always saying, “Lowell, quite teasing those kids.” But that wasn’t something Lowell could do. For teasing was his way of expressing his love.
Even in this last year, when he had trouble talking and getting around, Taylor would come by and Grandpa would still be trying to step on Taylor’s feet to give him a hard time. The body may have given out . . . but the spirit never did.
Lowell enjoyed watching the kids when they played sports. And even last summer, when it was hard to get around, he went to girls baseball games in the scorching heat. He wouldn’t have been anyplace else.
Lowell had a great sense of humor. He got a kick out of the humorous songs like “Grandma got run over by a Reindeer” and he enjoyed listening to Jerry Clower’s down home humor. And you never knew what he was going to say. One day he was out with the cows and Phil started mooing to them. Lowell looked at him and said, “I don’t know what they do in the city but we don’t moo at cows in the country.” Lowell enjoyed a good joke and could “take it” as well as “dish it out.” He enjoyed life.
There are truckloads of memories
- The dam he’d make with his mashed potatoes when he ate chicken and noodles
- his fun laugh
- his cow magazines
- teasing Taylor with “Go boy Go!”
- getting a head start on opening his presents at Christmas
- sitting in the stands for a ball game
- his tender heart being revealed by a silent tear in his eye
- standing in the midst of the turkeys
- kicked back in his chair taking a nap with a newspaper over his head
- working hard
- And the ever present danger of walking by his chair while he was taking a nap . . . you never knew when he would suddenly reach out and grab you and hold onto you with a vicelike grip. And he wouldn’t let you go until you said the magic words, “Grandpa, you’re the Greatest.” But you see, that really wasn’t too hard to get the grandkids to say . . . because he really was the greatest.
In Proverbs 13:22 we read that “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children.” Lowell Blythe left an inheritance for his family. But the most valuable inheritance he left was his character, example, integrity, and spiritual faithfulness.
And it is for this reason that we come to this day, not with despair, but with hope and gratitude.
In the Bible we read the story of the death of Jesus’ good friend, Lazarus. Jesus wasn’t there at the time of Lazarus’ death and some of Lazarus’s family felt that Jesus let them down. After all, Jesus had healed other sick people but wasn’t around to heal Lazarus. Jesus arrived after Lazarus was already in the tomb.
Jesus talked with the sister of Lazarus and said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25.26) In these words Jesus taught some profound truth.
First, Jesus teaches us that eternal life is real. He says, “I am the resurrection and the life.” He teaches us that those who trust Him can “live even though you die.” The message was clear. Jesus was saying that this life is not all there is.
He taught us with His words, but He also showed us with His resurrection. The bold declaration of Christ is simple, “There is life beyond the grave!”
In other places around the Bible we read that eternal life means being with God. In that life we will have a body that was similar to the resurrected body of Jesus. That means we will be able to recognize each other in Heaven. The eternal life that Jesus talks about was not a form of reincarnation. We would not come back as someone or something else. We would be resurrected as the same people we were on earth.
When Jesus was raised from the dead, the disciples recognized Him. They saw Him eat. They touched Him. His resurrection was not metaphorical or symbolic. It was real, and physical. The Bible tells us that when we get to Heaven, we will be like Him. So, in Heaven we will have real forms and we will recognize and rejoice to see each other.
But notice that Jesus also teaches us that HE is the resurrection and the life. His instruction is clear, “I am the way the truth, and the life, no man can come to the Father but by me.” Jesus claims to be the ONLY way to Heaven. His statement that “no one can come to father but by me” is quite clear. There are no exceptions.
This isn’t politically correct today . . . but it is what He teaches. We are told in the Bible that the reason that Jesus is the way for us to have eternal life is because Jesus did for us what no one else could do for us. He paid the price for the rebellion of our lives.
God is perfect, we are not . . . and that’s a big problem. It’s a problem that was addressed when Jesus died on the cross. He died so His perfection would be credited to our account.
The Bible tells us that if we “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, we will be saved.” But believing is about more than mere mental assent. It is more than signing a card, raising a hand, walking and aisle, getting baptized, or joining a church. To believe on Christ is to give yourself to Him. It means to trust Him with today and tomorrow. It means to cling to Him and what He did for you as your life preserver. To believe involves every fiber of our being.
I believe Lowell Blythe trusted the Lord Jesus Christ. Lowell didn’t talk a lot about his faith. But then Lowell didn’t give expression to a lot of the things that resided deep inside of him. Lowell sought to demonstrate faith rather than talk about it. I believe that Lowell believed that his hope for Heaven lay not in his goodness but in God’s grace in Christ. And because of that, I am confident that Lowell Blythe is in Heaven. I believe he has been freed from his broken body and reunited with his bride and His Lord.
I can’t be sure . . . but I believe Lowell was ready. He wanted to stay here as long as he felt he could contribute something. But when he felt he had nothing left to give . . . he was ready to go home.
But there is one more thing this passage does, it asks us a vital question. Jesus looked at Lazarus’s sister in the eye and said, “Do you believe this?” It was an important question. In fact, it is the essential question. And I ask you the same question: Do YOU believe the gospel?
If you don’t believe then you are most miserable today. You are either desperately trying to convince yourself that something exists beyond the grave, or you feel a sense of utter despair. I plead with you to consider the evidence of life beyond the grave. If you are not sure of your relationship with Christ . . . please become sure.
Look at evidence for the resurrection. Study the life and words of Jesus. Think rationally about the direction and purpose of creation. Think about the evidence for the existence of God and the reasonableness of the eternal. These things may seem like irrelevant philosophical mumbo jumbo most of the time. But today, they things are intensely practical.
Christ reaches out to you. He invites you to know the life that Lowell Blythe has experienced. John told the early church, “These things I have written to you who believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you may KNOW that YOU have eternal life.”
I want you to be sure. I want you to know the hope that can exist even in the midst of the pain of loss.
And if you DO know this hope. Let me remind you of several things.
First, grief is natural. It’s O.K. to be sad. It’s fitting to cry. You have suffered a great loss. Someone you love has gone on to the next life and you miss them. Grief is appropriate. There is nothing unchristian about grief.
Second, I remind you that Lowell is not in the body you see in this box . . . He lives. He lives with Jesus. He lives with Marcia. He lives with his parents and all those family and friends who have gone before. He is free from the restrictions of this life. He lives a life that we can’t even dream about. There is no need to feel sorrow for him.
Finally, I remind you that Lowell (and Marcia) are waiting. They are waiting for you to make your faith sure. They are waiting for you to meet them in the Father’s house. And when you get there, don’t be surprised if you walk through the door of Heaven and find yourself in the strong arms of Lowell. But this time he won’t be prompting you to say that Lowell is the greatest . . . this time he’ll encourage you to say, “Jesus is the Greatest.”
So we grieve. But we do not despair. We are sad for we will miss Lowell. But we are also grateful.
- Grateful for his example.
- Grateful for his love.
- Grateful for the wonderful memories.
- Grateful for the family that remains as his legacy.
- Grateful for his faith and the Savior he trusted.
- And grateful that this is not the end of the story. If we trust Lowell’s Savior, we will meet again . . . at the Father’s House.
Father, thank you for the life of Lowell Blythe. He blessed us, taught us, and spurred us on. We ask you to receive him warmly into your presence as a faithful servant who has served well.
Father, give us a measure of his spirit. Grant that we may live our lives with his sense of joyfulness. Grant that we might have his ability to enjoy every aspect of life. And give us his sense of balance that’s anchored in faith. Help us to lay hold of the sure hope of eternity that is found in Christ.
Lord, I ask you to help this family. Honor them for the way they cared for Lowell. Keep them close as a family. Help them in the lonely days to know your comfort. In those moments of great sorrow fill them with an even greater faith. In times of decision give them your guidance. Keep their memories sharp and their faith unmovable. For we ask this in the very strong and eternal name of Christ. Amen.