Stanley Little

We gather today to remember the life of Stanley Little, to mourn his loss and to begin looking forward to our future reunion with him in Heaven.

In Isaiah 40:28-31 we read these familiar and appropriate words,

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31, NIV)

This morning we trust God for the strength that he alone can give.

Will you pray with me,

Our Father, we bow before you and acknowledge once again that you are the giver of life.  We ask for your comfort and strength as we remember and celebrate the life of your servant, Stanley W. Little.  Help us to remember, help us to renew our hope.  We ask in the name of Christ.  Amen.

Mr. Stanley W. Little, age 88, of LaHarpe, Illinois, passed away Saturday August 10, 2002 at 5:20 A.M. at the LaHarpe-Davier Health Care Center, LaHarpe, Illinois.

He was born on June 12, 1914 in Fort Madison, Iowa, the son of Guy L. and Mary Hutson Little. On June 26, 1937, he married Frances E. Krause in LaHarpe. She preceded him in death on May 1, 1996.

He was a licensed plumber and co-owned and operated Little Bothers Hardware store in LaHarpe with his brothers, Robert and Lldon.  Stanley was fond of saying the hardware store was just a front for the plumbing, heating and electrical business!   In later years the brothers sold the hardware store and the business became known as Little Brothers Plumbing, Heating and Electrical. He was a licensed private pilot and loved to fly. He was a member of the LaHarpe Masonic Lodge # 195 and the LaHarpe United Methodist Church.

Surviving are one daughter, Karen Satterlee of Las Vegas, Nevada, one son Rodney Little of Eucha, Oklahoma, and or Haywood WI.  4 grandchildren, 1 great-granddaughter, one brother, Lldon Little of LaHarpe, two sisters, Darlene Comstock of Hamilton, Illinois and Martha Jean Cratsenberg of LaHarpe as well as several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his wife, four brothers, Wayne, Richard, Robert and George Little and by his parents.

Stanley Little was a man who enjoyed life and loved his family.  While in his early 20’s his father died and Stanley stepped in as the oldest of the family and worked to help his mom with his siblings.  Stanley taught both Lldon and Jean how to drive.  He tried hard to fill in where his father could not.

Stanley was the kind of guy who would always be there when you needed him. When Lldon and Lucille’s Steven was sick up at the Mayo Clinic, the family was staying in a motel.  Stanley showed up at the door.  No one knows how he found where they were staying, but he did.

Stanley loved people but was also very private.  He was good at his job and most of what he learned, he taught himself about the business.  That was Stanley’s way.  He liked to do things by the “seat of his pants”.  He would make the best decision and then go with it.

He loved his children and his grandchildren.  There was nothing that brought him greater joy than when the family was around.

Stanley also loved to fly.  Over the years he owned several different planes.  It is said that he liked to trade planes as much as he enjoyed trading cars.  At one point he told Frances, “I’m never going to be able to afford to fly—but I’m going to do it anyway.”

Stanley looked for any excuse to fly.  He would fly down and pick Karen up from school so she could come home for the weekend.  He took Rodney down state to pick up a few coon dogs.  He would fly Gayle up to see her folks so he could visit with her dad, another pilot.  Any excuse was sufficient to get him in the air.

Stanley liked to get up early and watch the sunrise from the air.  He also liked to “buzz” the homes of his brothers to wake them up in the morning!  In fact, he was known to “buzz” a number of people.  He loved to fly.

One of the things I’m sure he liked most about flying was being able to share his passion with Karen.  It was an uncommon Father and daughter activity but one they both enjoyed greatly.  Although I am told that Stanley was befuddled at how in the world Karen could fly a plane and not be able to manage a clutch in a car.

Stanley had a good sense of humor.  He had a quick wit and was not above pulling someone’s leg.  He enjoyed telling Gayle what the farmers were doing in the field.  Of course, he deliberately told her the wrong thing.

For a wedding gift Stanley bought Gayle a 20 gauge shotgun!  I’m sure you could add your own punch line here but apparently it wasn’t because she was going to need it since she was marrying Rodney. He gave her the gun because he knew Gayle was a good shot and he looked forward to spending time hunting and shooting with her.

For years Stanley had Rodney believing that the Shaeffer plant’s water tower was filled with ink for the pens. He was a man always ready with a quip and a smile.

Stanley had a huge heart.  He was constantly showing his generosity but was always anonymous when doing so.  He was known to leave money at the grocery store for a family in need, or mail them cash in a plain envelope.  He would leave groceries on a door step and loved delivering toys at Christmas.  Giving gave Stanley great joy.

Stanley and Francis also loved to garden.  They would plant a huge garden, do the canning, and then share the harvest.

Stanley was a man who refused to give up.  After his first stroke he worked diligently so he could fly again.  He spent hours in the back of the store counting fittings . . .not so he could get an accurate inventory . . .he was working hard to get his math skills back.  It was his own form of therapy.

Even in these last years in the nursing home you could see Stanley’s character.  Up until he became real bad He was always ready to shake your hand.  If you did something for him he was always ready with a thank-you.  And you seldom left without him saying, “come again!” I’ve seen how much he enjoyed it when Jean came to visit him.

Stanley Little was ready to die.  We can only imagine how difficult it was for this proud man these last years.  We are grateful that his suffering has ended.

Today we are left to say good-bye but we do not do it as the rest of men who have no hope.  For we do have hope.  Stanley trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior and we know this is not the end for him.

Today I share with you the familiar words of 2 Corinthians 5

“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-3, NIV)

These familiar words remind us of several things.  First, we are reminded that people die.  If you live long enough your earthly tent will be destroyed.  Our physical bodies wear out.  That’s the way life is.

Second, we are reminded that Death is not the end.  If our body wears out and we die we KNOW that we have a building from God . . .an ETERNAL home in Heaven.

How do we KNOW these things?  We are sure of these things because of our Savior.  Jesus lived, died and then rose from the grave.  He proved that there was life beyond the grave.  And this same Savior tells us that anyone who trusts in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life.

Stanley was such a person.  He wasn’t real vocal about his faith.  It was private and personal.  But it was also deep and genuine. His body is in this box, but his life is with the Lord. He lives on.

Finally, notice that Paul tells us that death is the fulfillment of life’s longings for those who believe.  Paul continues in his words to the Corinthians,

we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. [2 Cor 5:6-9]

Perhaps this is easier to grasp in the case of Stanley.  His body gave out on him several years ago.  He was a man who was trapped in the body that would not allow him to live.  I wonder how often Stanley yearned for Heaven.  I wonder how many times he prayed that God would take him home.  He understood that thought this life is good, it is not the best.

Today we welcome the reminder that this life is just the title page of real living.  This life is but a cover of a masterpiece.  The real beauty is what is beyond the cover and title page.

Today we remember not only a life well lived. . . we remember that we are living now to live again.  Today we focus on the essential truths of our faith,

  •  Those who trust Christ are forgiven the sin of their life.
  • Those who trust Christ have an assurance of Heaven that comes from the Holy Spirit who has been given to us as a seal that guarantees our inheritance.
  • Those who trust Christ will enter Heaven whole and filled with life.
  • Those who trust Christ will be reunited with those who have gone before them . . . and best of all, they will see Jesus.

Stanley Little is finally at peace.  I don’t mean just that his body has stopped decaying.  I don’t mean just that the struggle of life has ended.  I mean Stanley has found the peace that passes all understanding.  He has found the peace of final forgiveness, the peace of reunion, the peace of understanding the answers to the complex questions of life, and he has found the peace of being held in the arms of Jesus.

This is not a bad day for Stanley . . . in fact it is a very very good day.  The earthly tent of Stanley Little has been destroyed . . . but now he has a building from God.  And what a wonderful building it must be.  He has lived well, he has taught us about character, the importance of family, and the value of enjoying the journey of life.

He lived well but he lives more vibrantly now.  He is more alive now than he has ever been.  Our hearts ache, but his bursts with joy.  We feel sadness but he overflows with delight.  We feel an acute sense of loss but he rejoices at his reunion with Frances, his brothers, his parents, Steven, other family members and many old friends, and he rejoices most of all to be with Jesus.

So today we commit his earthly body to the ground even as we look forward to see him in his renewed and perfect heavenly body.  The words penned by Benjamin Franklin as he wrote his own epitaph seem most apropos.

                The body of Benjamin Franklin, printer,
                    Like the cover of an old book,
                        Its contents torn out,
                     Lies here food for the worms;
                    But the work shall not be lost,
             For it will (as he believes) appear once more
                  In a new and more elegant edition,
                 Revised and corrected by its Author!

POEM

Our Father, we thank you for the life of Stanley Little.  We thank you for his spirit, his character and his faith.  We ask that you welcome him joyfully and triumphantly into your Kingdom and the place that you have prepared for him.

Thank you for Jesus.  Thank you for the certainty of eternal life that is found in him. I ask now that you bless this family.  Grant them clear memories even as you give them a fervent hope.  I ask these things in the name of our blessed Savior, Amen.