Wayne “Bud” Rodeffer

Wayne “Bud” Rodeffer was a man who not easy to get to know.  He was a man of few words and in his straightforward manner didn’t have a great deal of use for tact.  He wanted to be in control of situations and when he made a decision there was no appeals process available. Yet underneath this seemingly gruff exterior was a man who loved his family and his work.

Bud and Lucille met while they were in High School.  The fact that Bud was from Dallas City and Lucille was from La Harpe was a barrier at first.  We don’t know how Bud felt, but Lucille wasn’t attracted.  But as they spent more time together at the Traveler’s Inn the barriers fell and a romance began to bloom.  Bud asked Lucille to marry him and she agreed.  Eight days after they were married Bud went into the Navy.  After basic training he was stationed in Ottumwa and Lucille joined him there.

After his two year tour of duty they moved back to La Harpe.  Bud worked on the family farm and he and Lucille began the process of raising their family of five.  For two years Lucille ran the Tastee Freeze and in 1973 the family moved out to the farm.

Discipline was a key concept in the Rodeffer home.  Bud was in charge and everyone knew it.  If you misbehaved you sat in a chair for the night.  The kids weren’t allowed to run all over town.  Bud wanted to know where they were at all times.  It wasn’t that he didn’t trust them, he loved them and wanted to protect them.  He wanted to raise responsible, well-behaved and disciplined adults.

When the kids were younger they were in bed by 8:00 p.m. . . except on Monday when they could stay up to watch “I Love Lucy”.  The children never received an allowance.  If they wanted spending money they were to earn it.  Bud was a good provider and worked hard to make sure that his family had their needs met.

Bud grew up attending the Disco United Methodist Church and when he moved to town he was an active member of the Christian Church.  He and Lucille brought the family to worship (where they sat still in the back pew) and then they remained for Sunday School.  In all the years of farming, with only one exception, Bud never worked on Sunday.  It was the Lord’s Day and he believed that what you gained by working Sunday would be lost in other ways.

In his later years Bud didn’t go to church. He became disenchanted with one of the Pastor’s of the church and it soured him to the institutional church.  That doesn’t mean, of course, that it soured him on God.  Bud never talked about his inner feelings.  It was hard for him to talk about his faith just like it was hard for him to express his love.

In 1958 Bud lost his left arm in a Combine accident. He was in the hospital for 30 days and Lucille was by his side that whole time.  Bud was not bitter.  He felt fortunate to be alive and became determined to do with one arm what everyone else needed two to do.  The day after he got home from the hospital he was on a tractor.  His father had put in an automatic transmission so he could drive with one arm.  Before the accident he had been coaching Bob’s Little League team.  As a coach he was a man who believed the purpose of the games was less about winning and more about allowing children to participate.  Everyone on the team played half a game.  No one was left out.  Not everyone understood this philosophy but it didn’t matter to Bud.  Many parents sent notes thanking Bud for his fairness.  After every game, win or lose, Bud would talk to the team and then treat them to a “pop”.

Anyway, after Bud came home from the hospital he went out and bought a new ball glove, one he could wear on his right hand.  He would put the glove on the remaining part of his left arm when he pitched and then switch it over to his right arm to catch.  He wasn’t going to let a “little thing” like a missing arm keep him from fulfilling his obligations to his team. He was a man who worked as hard with one arm as others did with two.  He just adjusted.

Bud loved working the farm and really enjoyed the livestock.  He would stand outside and just watch the cattle.  He knew what animals had eaten and which had not.  He would watch the next day to make sure that those same animals ate and were not sick.

Bud liked to do things in a particular way.

  • You didn’t plant corn “until the hedge leaves were as big as squirrel ears”
  • When he traveled to Florida to see Joyce they always traveled the same road, stopped at the same gas station, ate in the same restaurant, and always checked out the same boot store.  When they got to Florida he always went to the farmer’s market and fed the squirrels in the backyard.  They liked to go down to Florida around Thanksgiving time.
  • When traveling to Florida Bud saw no reason for the radio to be turned on
  • You were to always feed the animals the same way every day.  You didn’t vary from the ritual and if you did, Bud would tell you “it’s not time yet”.
  • In these years after his stroke he always ate a 3 minute poached egg with cow brains.
  • When Bud announced he was leaving at a certain time . . . he did.
  • He wrote the weather on his calendar every day
  • He believed there were two ways to farm, the wrong way, and his way.
  • He liked to go to Hotel Nauvoo on Fridays at 6:30 p.m.  He liked seeing some of the same people and enjoyed the relationship he had with the owners of the restaurant.

Bud also served on the school board for nine years.  He refused to be a “yes” man.  In fact, in all his dealings, if he disagreed with you he told you he did and he told you why he did.  He was perhaps the most honest man you could meet.  He was honest in his business dealings with others and had no use for those who were less than honest.  His children knew that the one thing you didn’t want to do was to lie to dad.

As Bud got a little older he became more patient and mellowed a little.  He still wasn’t very expressive but he did become a little softer.  He loved his grandchildren.  He always had a pocketful of pink peppermints for the grandkids.  When the kids or grandkids would call on the phone, Bud would always listen in.  He might not say anything, but he wanted to know what was going on in their lives.  He was always asking about what everyone was doing.  And even as he was dying this last week he wanted to know how Matt was doing with his pitching. He wanted to know if he hit anybody (a good intimidation device).  When Hillary was heading off to get her mom at the airport Bud was giving her directions for the best (or right) way to go to Peoria.

Bud was the kind of guy that would rather teach a lesson by example than by speeches.  He modeled hard work, honesty, character, and values.  He didn’t talk about love . . . he tried to show it by the things that he did.  He saw no reason to lecture Terry about the negatives of chewing tobacco . . . he just gave him a little and let him get sick.  Lesson learned.  He saw no reason to tell Matt that you couldn’t have all the candy and pop you wanted, he just indulged his every appetite one day and let him live with the consequences.  Lesson learned. His kids knew that if they were ever put in jail for doing something foolish there was no need to call dad.  He wasn’t going to bail them out. To Bud, character and integrity was everything.  Bud wasn’t too happy when they put Elvis on a stamp.  It wasn’t his music, it wasn’t the way he wiggled his hips . . . he didn’t think a man who was as dependent on drugs as Elvis was should be glorified.  Character mattered.

I hope you haven’t gotten the idea that Bud was a mean man.  He wasn’t.  He wanted to teach character in the best way that he knew.  When his kids had a need he would do anything he could to help them.  When they were hurting, he hurt with them.  When someone needed a vehicle, he would loan you one.  If you couldn’t afford tires for your car he would buy them so you would be safe.  When Matt crawled up on his lap and asked him to read to him, he read to him.  He went to softball games.  When he was out with his kids he would often buy treats for them. When he knew friends or family were hospitalized, he would always make an effort to go and visit them.  He cared . . . he just didn’t talk about it.  In fact, Bud used to say, “You can’t learn anything by talking.”

His marriage of 58 years to Lucille was one of partnership.  He wasn’t the most romantic guy around, but he always wanted Lucille by his side.  He was sometimes gruff in his comments about something not being cooked just right.  When he needed his roll buttered he didn’t say, “Honey, could you butter this for me?”  He said, “Butter this”.  But Lucille and Bud understood each other.  It was their way.  After Bud lost his arm, Lucille helped him put on his socks, wash his hand, and a number of other little things that she did every day. . . .because she loved him.  He didn’t say “Thank-You” to his family, giving to one another was just what family did.  He wasn’t one to apologize . . . but I guess there is no need to apologize if you aren’t wrong.  This last week he knew he was dying, but his concern was for Lucille and that she be cared for.  Bud may have had a hard time saying the words but he loved Lucille and Lucille has shown that she loved him.

Bud Rodeffer led his family and everyone knew it.  His death is going to leave a big void but also a host of memories.

  • His yearly birthday celebration with Donna enjoying Angel Food Cake with brown sugar frosting and strawberries
  • The way Shalyn could make him laugh
  • The way he favored Matt and liked to have him tag along with him
  • His backseat driving
  • The gadgets he would buy at the State Fair
  • The Saturday evenings at Aurelio’s
  • The Friday nights at Hotel Nauvoo
  • The way he gave Lucille a hard time telling everyone he fired her and hired her back cheaper.  Or telling folks since she was born in Missouri he had bought her her first pair of shoes.
  • His dinner rituals
  • His “interesting” Christmas gifts
  • Walking on the beach in long sleeves, long pants, and a straw hat
  • And his uncanny wisdom

People may have wanted Bud to be more expressive in his love and more conversant about his faith.  We may wish that he had told us more about his life growing up.  But that wasn’t Bud’s way.  Bud didn’t worry about what people thought of him.  He was who he was.  He lived his life to the best of his ability.  He sought to do what was right.  We can learn a great deal from Bud Rodeffer even though he didn’t say much.  Perhaps Bud would say, “We could learn a lot from his life . . . if we just listen.”

As we confront the matter of our loss this day there are lots of things to think about.  You could focus on the things you will not share together with Bud in the future.  The time of making memories has past.  You could focus on the things you wish you had said, or maybe, wish you heard.  That is very natural.  You can wonder what life will be like without Bud.  That is especially true for you Lucille.

But I would like to suggest to you a few things I would encourage you would think about today.  First, think about the fact that you are not alone.  Jesus said,

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30]

You may feel alone today but you are not.  He has promised that He will “never leave us or forsake us”. You may feel that no one understands your particular grief.  But God does.  He knows the regrets, the desires, the hurts, and the fears.  He has promised that if we trust Him, He will give us rest.  He has the strength that we need at this time.

Second, I hope you will think about the fact that God sees what is unseen.  When King David was anointed he was not the kind of person you would expect to be King.  He was a common Shepherd.  He was young,  he was still rather small.  But God declared to the people, “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7).

This is an important truth for us to keep in mind.  We would have liked to know in detail how Bud felt about God.  Lucille would tell you that Bud believed in God, but we would like to know more. But we don’t.  But God does.  God weighs the heart.

Faith was a private matter to Bud.  Faith wasn’t something you talked about it was something you lived.  We draw comfort from the fact that God’s judgment is right.  We know that His mercy is great and His grace is sufficient for any who would believe.  Today we leave Bud with God, confident that God loved Bud and knows his heart better than we ever could imagine.

Third, I hope you will focus on the future.  Sometimes we spend so much time focused on the past that we fail to live in the present.  There are two things in the future to focus on.  First, there is Heaven.  It is our hope that Bud will be at door of Heaven waiting for us when we arrive.  It is my hope that on that day he will be whole and will be able to declare fully his love for you his family, and for Jesus Christ His Lord.  We must remember that this life is not all there is.  You don’t put away a book after you have only read the introduction.  And we shouldn’t say life has ended simply because we have left our temporal life.  Look forward to that future day.

But we also should look forward to what we have left to do in this life.  Our job is to continue building on the foundation that Bud has been left us.  It is our job to carry on.  It is our job to hold the family together.  In fact, there are several things we are challenged to do as a result of Bud’s life.  First, we learn the importance of being clear of our own faith.  Let us resolve to be sure of our eternal destiny and to make sure that those we love know of our confidence.  The Bible is crystal clear.  Those who put their full confidence in the work of Jesus on our behalf will enjoy eternal life in Heaven. Make sure of your faith . . . and then tell those you love.

Second, we must work at expressing our love and appreciation for those who are closest to us.  We know that we love our families.  We trust that they know that we love them.  But it is important to say the words.  Take time to hug the people that are closest to you.  Make that effort to express yourselves even though it is hard.  You know how much it means.

Third, we learn the value of a life well lived.  We see in the life of Bud Rodeffer the impact that an honest, hard-working man can make.  He didn’t say much and yet he taught volumes.  Look at the character of the family he raised.  Look at the things he accomplished.  Look at the obstacles he overcame. Character IS more important than stuff.  Integrity does make an impact.  Consequently we should make every effort to pursue Character and integrity in our lives.  Bud Rodeffer spent his life trying to help his family to stand on their own.  I think he has prepared you well.

Understand, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t grieve.  You should.  When you love someone you miss them when they are gone.  Let grief have it’s time and then get to work on building on the legacy Bud leaves behind.

So on this day of heartache draw comfort from the fact that you are not alone, that God sees the heart, and that He will give us the strength to carry on.  We grieve, but we do not grieve without hope.  We look forward to a future day when we will be in God’s house.  It’s our hope that in that day we will be able to have that heart to heart talk with Bud that we always longed to have.

Let’s pray,

Our Father, our hearts are heavy with the sadness of loss. We ask that you would look at Bud’s heart and find faith there.  We ask that you welcome him into your home. . . the home you have prepared for him.  Thank you for his character, his quirks, his determination, and his influence in our lives.

Father I ask that you comfort this family.  Continue to draw them close to each other and to you.  I ask especially for Lucille.  Lord, thank you for her faithfulness as a wife and mother.  Strengthen her as she faces the future without her partner. Help her to know your comfort in her life.  For we ask these things in the name of Christ.  Amen.