We gather this morning to remember the life and mourn the loss of Roger Crum. We also gather to remind ourselves of the message of the gospel that “Those who believe in Jesus will live even though they die”.
It was Jesus who said,
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:1-3)
The Apostle Paul wrote,
Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)
The fact from which we draw comfort today is this: Roger is not here . . . only his body is here. Roger, the individual is with Jesus and he is more alive today than he has ever been.
With that realization let’s pray,
Our Father we grieve today. Roger was a kind and fun man. We have watched him these many months and we have been inspired by his faith and his faithfulness. It is hard for us to wrap our minds around the fact that he is no longer here.
Lord please grant us the gift of your comfort today. Help us to know the hope that comes from faith in Christ. Help us to remember affectionately and yet hope and rejoice faithfully. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Roger L. Crum, was born on May 23, 1940 to John M. and Harriett L. Williams Crum.
Roger graduated from the La Harpe High school in 1958. He attended Western Illinois University for two years and then enlisted in the Illinois National Guard.
Sometime after that he met Marjorie June Davis in Burlington Iowa. The started dating (Roger had lots of hair then!) On April 11, 1965 Roger married Marjorie June Davis in Burlington, IA. They celebrated their 50th Anniversary just two months ago.
Roger farmed near LaHarpe all of his life. He was a member of the Hancock County Beef Association where he had served as Treasurer and Vice President. He was selected as the 2006 Hancock County Cattleman of the Year. It was an honor he cherished greatly. He was also a member of the Hancock County Farm Bureau, LaMoine Valley Angus Association, and the Carthage Gun Club. He had served as leader of the 4H Club, and had also served on the board of the LaHarpe School District. He belonged to the former Disco United Methodist Church, and when it closed he joined the Union Church of LaHarpe where he has served as faithful and involved member for many year.
Roger passed away on Thursday morning, June 11, 2015 at his home after a long illness.
Survivors include his wife, Marjorie, one son, Rodney Crum of LaHarpe, one daughter, Michele (Brad) Hester of Salem, IL and four grandchildren, Bailey and Brant Hester and Allison and Madison Crum. He was preceded in death by his parents.
It would be a terrible tragedy for us to make this a day that focuses on the death of Roger Crum. It is much more significant to focus on the life of Roger Crum; for he lived life to the fullest.
Roger was the only child of his parents John and Harriett Crum. For the first three months of Roger’s life his mom carried him around on a pillow! As you might imagine they doted on their son and loved him greatly. He returned the favor. When his parents were in the hospital he went to visit them every day.
Roger went to a one room school house. Until the third grade he was the only one in his grade. In the third grade Delbert Dahl moved to the area. They were ready to graduate number 1 and number 2 in their class. Unfortunately 2 other children (Charlene Lund and Karen Woodside) joined their class in 8th grade and the class of 2 turned into a class of 4 and their class rank suffered.
Roger and Delbert were like brothers. They spend a good deal of time at the Disco Church youth meetings. After they both had horses they decided they would like to ski in the winter. The problem was there were not many ski slopes in Disco. So they had someone go along with them who held their horses while they got on their skis and had the horses pull them around the field.
One day they got off track and Delbert was heading straight for a two-stall hog house. Delbert missed it by six inches.
At 11 they joined 4H. It was there they became acquainted with Richard Apt and Max Hardisity. The group of buddies was expanding.
Growing up Roger liked his various cars. He had a great time with his lifelong classmates and friends. He also had a dear friend he made while in the service. When Roger made a friend they were true friends for life. Most of those friends were just as ornery as he was. Homer Quigle joined the group later along with a few others. They had great fun all their lives. These were friendships for life.
Roger was a loyal friend and his friends were loyal to him. Roger was a man who would do anything he could to help you. He was as kind as you can get. He never said bad things about others . . . even if everyone would have understood if he did.
Roger met Marj in Burlington (apparently that is where La Harpe men went to find women)! Roger and Marj loved being parents and they were partners in every sense of the word. When you saw them together you knew that they loved each other and you knew that they had a refreshing honesty between them that kept their relationship strong (and fun). Roger was first and foremost a family man.
Roger and Marj spent lots of time doing things with their friends. As a result their children and grandchildren grew up around all these people. In fact, it took awhile for them to realize which ones were relatives and which ones were not.
The family took lots of fun vacation (especially to the Ozarks and to Colorado). Roger enjoyed life. He loved livestock and all animals. He liked to ski. He loved going out on the snowmobile when they were in Colorado to explore wonderful out of the way places of beauty. Roger loved to fish and he especially loved to fish with his grandchildren.
Roger was an excellent farmer and worked hard. People might say Roger was “deliberate” in everything he did. Roger did not run through life. Roger did run through anything!!! (Richard Apt said “Roger didn’t get very wound up about anything . . . in fact you could not wind Roger up). He believed you would save time if you did things right the first time. So, he was never in a hurry.
If you went out to dinner with Roger and Marj Roger was barely getting started on dinner when everyone else was done. Roger couldn’t talk and eat at the same time. And when he told a story he liked to back up and get a walking start on the story!!!
He also was very particular about buttering his bread and potatoes He wanted to make sure they were all evenly covered with butter. While others were finishing their meal, Roger was still finishing his buttering so he could eat his meal!
This spirit was probably best illustrated when Marj was very pregnant with Michelle. She had been sick so Roger took Rodney and went to the farm to eat with his folks. It was at this time that Marj went into labor. She called the Doctor and he told her to come right over to the hospital. She called Roger and his response was, “Well, can I still eat breakfast??” No one knows for sure exactly what Marj said to him but he there immediately to pick her up!!! (I’m sure she didn’t want to wait until after he buttered his toast!)
When Michelle moved into her new home with Brad Roger and Michelle spent several hours (that could be an exaggeration) just to pick out a broom for Michelle’s new home. Roger felt there was no reason to rush and pick the wrong broom.
Roger loved being a dad. He gave his kids the opportunity to try lots of different things. He wanted them to love the things he loved. He encouraged them in 4H. As they grew up he didn’t miss any of the games they played. There was no work that would get in the way of him and his children.
Michelle would tell you that she had her daddy wrapped around her finger. He just couldn’t say no to her. When she wanted a horse he bought her an Arabian Quarter Horse. (Which he carted to the house to bury after it died). When it was time to gather hay Roger asked Michelle if she would get some of her guy friends to come help. It was the easiest time he ever had getting help. The saddest day of his life was when Michelle left home with Brad. He knew it was the right thing to do but it didn’t stop his heart from breaking.
Rodney was expected to help out more around the farm but had the benefit of learning from one of the best. Roger was proud of Rodney’s love for livestock. Roger taught Rodney early in life how to drive the tractor. Both Rodney and Michelle would tell you they had certainly one of the best dads in the world.
Roger encouraged his kids to be active in 4H and he took them all over to show their calves. He taught them to respect animals and to care for them in the proper way. They both have a respect for the farm and for livestock because that is the way they were trained. They never had to wonder if mom and dad loved them.
It was always fun, it sounds, at the Crum household. Roger liked to play. Once he even was kicked off the Go-Carts because he couldn’t resist playing demolition Go-cart with the kids. You never knew where you would find Roger. You might see him chasing someone with water or pulling some kind of bizarre prank. He might be playing Ring Around the Rosie with the grandkids, reading with the kids or just having a conversation with them. He was playful and he didn’t want to miss a moment.
When Grandchildren came along Roger went into a whole new gear of love. Roger bought the kids their first wagon. He bought a real telescope so that Baily could feed her interest in space. He would go up in the hayloft and arrange the bales so the kids would have tunnels to play in. Their first bicycles came from Grandma and Grandpa.
Even though the older kids were a couple of hours away, Roger and Marj were at every game. Bailey says Grandpa missed a couple of weeks of Volleyball games but only because he had a heart attack!! Bailey took her first steps making her way to the strawberries Grandpa was eating.
Roger loved to go fishing with the kids. He and Brant were fishing buddies. Just a couple of years ago Roger bought a fishing boat for the two of them. Sadly they were only able to go out in it together a handful of times. Bailey started drawing Grandpa pictures on the chalkboard in the barn when she was 2 or 3. She continued the pictures as she grew older. They were so precious to Roger that he wouldn’t erase them. Roger’s recent fixation was trying to find a guy from up here that he could fix Bailey up with so he could have her closer to him.
Roger wanted his Grandchildren to know what it was like to appreciate the farm life. He bought the first calf for Bailey, Brant, Madison and Alison. He encouraged their involvement in 4H. He was deeply involved in their lives and would do anything to encourage them in anything they wanted to do.
Roger’s proudest moment was seeing the older grandchildren profess their faith in Christ and get baptized. Roger was deeply grounded in his faith.
In short, Roger Crum was a happy, content, and blessed man. These was joy and lots of laughter around the house. His priorities were clear: the Lord was first and then people were always more important than things or farming. His life was filled with love from his wonderful wife, from his family, from his friends, and he loved the farm.
Roger was frustrated by the physical problems of the last several years but they sure did not slow him down. He lived right up to when he died. If you asked him how he was doing he would always say the same thing, “Well, I’m doing alright”. He wasn’t lying. He may have had physical problems but he was doing just fine. He had great friends, a wonderful family and he knew He was in the hands of a Great God.
He lived well. We would all be blessed to do the same.
SONG: HOW GREAT THOU ART
Roger Crum was a man who lived life fully. Over the years his faith grew deeper and stronger. Roger understood the good news of Christianity that is effectively summarized in the book of Titus
4 When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. 6 He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)
This is the good news that gave Roger Crum strength to face the trials of the last few years. Roger knew where he was going when he died. He knew who would sustain and support him until that time. His trust was firmly in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We all know that Marj is much more verbal about her faith than Roger was about his but that didn’t mean the faith was any less genuine. Roger knew that he would not go to Heaven for being a good guy. By our standards, Roger was a very good guy. However, when the standard is set by the Lord and not by us, there is no one who is good. There are some who are simply less sinful than others.
The Bible tells us that the whole point of Jesus coming into the world was to tell us about the new life He wants to give us, and then to die and then rise from the dead to make it possible. Jesus paid the price for our sin. In other words, without Jesus we would be the ones who were facing the wrath of God. We would be the ones on the cross. And we would deserve it.
Roger understood this and he put his faith and trust in Jesus. He trusted him to pay for his penalty, to guarantee eternal life, and to give him a new direction for life.
Roger sought to live for Christ. He sought to live by the values Jesus set out. Roger treated all people with respect and with grace. He didn’t talk about others because he understood that everyone is sinful. When the time of his cancer and other problems developed I wonder if he remembered these words of Paul,
3 Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, or then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. . . 10 So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen. 2 Timothy 2:3-10
When you asked Roger how he was doing he would say, “Oh . . . I’m doing alright.” And I think he meant it. He knew the Lord was taking care of him. I’m sure he had questions about why things happened the way they did, but he trusted the One who sits on the throne of heaven.
I’m inspired by Roger Crum. He epitomizes the words of Paul,
The time of my death is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 8 And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6-8)
Roger fought the good fight and he did remain faithful as he finished the race. Too many people stop living long before they die. Not Roger. I know he would tell you that it was a team effort. When he became weary, Marj would cheer him on so he could keep running all the way through the finish line.
Now the race is over for Roger. But his life is not over. In some ways, the real life has just begun. I love these words of CS Lewis that end the children’s series of books called “the Chronicles of Narnia”
And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world . . . had only been the cover and title page; now at last they were beginning chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read; which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better than the one before.
Roger Crum has met his Savior, the One who gave his life to save him. And I cannot begin to imagine the emotion and the joy of that moment. Everything he longed for deep in his heart found its completion in that one meeting with Jesus. Yes, I am sure there is a great reunion of family and friends but the greatest joy comes with being in the presence of the Lord.
Roger ran the race well and finished strong. And I believe if he were here today he would encourage us to do the same. For those who are only playing at faith he would ask, “Why are you squandering your life? The Lord loves you and He wants to make you new.” I am positive Roger would encourage you to stop trying to be good enough . . . and instead admit your brokenness and run to the One who died to make you whole again.
For those who are getting weary in the journey. I am sure he would say: Keep kicking because it is soooo worth it!
And I think to his family he would say, “I love you. The one thing I always wanted was to know that I was going to be able to spend forever with you.”
And . . . I’m just guessing of course. But I think Roger would say to Marj, “Honey, thank you for cheering me on and walking me home. I’ve got to tell you . . . shoot fire Marj, it is way better than we even imagined.”
This is a day for us to take stock of our own lives. It is a day to finally stop putting off what it seems so easy to delay. It is time to come to Jesus.
And yes it is time to reflect on the life of Roger Crum and some of the things Roger taught us. Some of these lessons:
- If you can learn to be content, life is always good, and you are always fine.
- Take your time. The world is in too much of a hurry. When you hurry you miss too much that is really worth seeing.
- If you are a friend to your friends, they will be your friends, forever.
- Of all the urgent things there are that clamor for our attention, the greatest thing we can do is build a legacy in the children and grandchildren that bless our lives. But to do this we must make building that legacy a priority above everything else.
- You can grow older but you don’t necessarily have to grow up. You should have a little fun along the entire journey of life.
- There is a good way and a better way to butter bread and potatoes.
- If you take good care of your animals they will love you . . . unless it’s a cat.
- If the Lord blesses you financially, use that blessing to bless others.
- Some of the strongest testimonies of faith come from those who choose to worship rather than complain in the time of suffering.
- You don’t have to do a lot of talking to make an impact on the lives of those around you.
- The sacrifices you make for your children and grandchildren are sacrifices you will never regret making.
- And finally if you live your life trusting Jesus, you will spend all of eternity enjoying being with Him.
Roger Crum will be missed . . .but not forever. We WILL see him again.
SONG Surely the Presence
Our Father, we bow before you this morning and give you thanks first for the life of Roger Crum. He touched every one of us in this room. And we are better because of that fact.
But we also thank you for the good news that Roger believed. We thank you that this life is not all there is. We thank you that Jesus made it possible for us to know you and be made right before you. Help us cling to this truth. And Lord, for those who are here who have put off trusting you . . . please tear down those barriers so they might know the comfort, the hope, and indeed the life that can only be found in Jesus.
Father, I ask you to comfort this family. There loss is profound. And I especially pray for Marj. She has devoted herself faithfully to her husband and it has occupied much of her life. Now there is a huge hole. Please fill it with your presence. Draw Marj close in the lonely times and encourage her whenever she needs it to continue to glory in your name. It’s in that name that I pray. Amen