We gather this morning to mourn the loss and to celebrate the life of Bill Pollock. In this time of emptiness we turn to the Bible to seek a connection with the Lord of life. In the Bible we read these words,
O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise, you perceive my thoughts from afar. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. [Psalm 139]
It was Jesus who 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]
Let’s pray together.
Our Father we turn to You this morning. You are the author of life and you are the One who receives us in the time of death. We look to You today. We ask you to help us to catch a glimpse of eternity so that this day does not seem so empty. We ask you to help us to connect with you so that we do not feel so lost and alone. We ask that you help us to understand your promise, your invitation and your requirements so that we might not grieve as those who have no hope.
We also ask that you help us to remember Bill. We thank you for his life and the impact his life has had on our own. Help us as we seek to give thanks for this blessing that has come from your hand. We ask this in Jesus name. Amen
William “Bill” Pollock was born on August 24, 1935 in McDonough County to Ralph S. and Bernice E. (Lansdown) Pollock. He met Mary Jane Aten at Industry High School where he was an athlete and she was a cheerleader. They both played percussion in the band and were the Homecoming King and Queen. They were married on April 11, 1954 in Macomb in a double wedding with their friends. Mary Jane survives.
Bill had a number of jobs over the years he worked on the farm, he drove a truck for Coca Cola, and sold a little insurance, and he spent 30 years as the Director of McDonough Power Co-op. His first love was farming. He was a former member of the Ebenezer Church, Macomb Elks and the Lamoine Trail Saddle Club.
He is survived by his children:
• His daughter, Pamela (Don) Hubbert of Winchester;
• His three sons, Scott (Joy) Pollock of Blandinsville,
• Bruce (Cindy) Pollock of LaHarpe
• Mike (Angela) Pollock of LaHarpe;
11 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren;
One brother, Richard (Alta) Pollock of Colchester
three sisters, Patty (Steve) Coker of Macomb,
Linda (Bruce) Carter of Elgin
and Becky (Bob) Gardner of Louisville, Kentucky.
He was preceded in death by his parents.
Bill died on Thursday July 15th at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield. He was 74 years old.
Bill Pollock was a nice guy who had a sharp wit and a variety of interests. He was a very sensitive man who always cried at weddings and funerals. He had a big heart and was like a gentle bear. He wasn’t one to put his arm you and say “I love you” or “I’m proud of you” but his family always knew he was proud because they heard him telling others how proud he was.
He loved to give people a hard time and was always quick with the comeback. He and Lyle were constantly going back and forth about Ford’s and Dodge’s. I get the feeling that Bill had this kind of relationship with lots of people. This playful spirit was his way of showing affection. If he was calling you a name it likely meant he liked you (that of course, depended on the name!)
Bill was always a man who was unafraid of responsibility. When he was around 10 his dad was sick and he and his brother needed to run the farm for a number of years until dad got better. As a result Bill had no trouble assigning responsibility to his kids and grandkids at an early age. He might have you driving the car at age 12 or driving a tractor while he took a nap. He told you what to do and just expected you to do it. It was the way he was raised, and he figured he turned out O.K.
Bill loved horses. He loved helping his Grandfather with the race horses, he loved going to the horse races in Rushville, he enjoyed hitching a team to the wagon for parades, he loved riding horses and he loved going to the horse sale even though it was Erin’s birthday! When the State Fair was going on Bill would drive to Springfield every day just to watch the races (no matter how much work needed to be done at the farm! . . . After all that’s what you have kids for!) The Pollock trail ride (which has taken place in Eminence MO. for over 40 years) was, and is a time when the family enjoys riding and making memories together. Many family stories and memories come from these days.
Bill liked to travel. He and Mary Jane took many trips with the Co-op and enjoyed going to Arizona to their timeshare. I’m told that even with his bad eyes Bill could always tell how fast someone was driving and somehow knew where every pothole was.
Bill was the provider to his household . . . Mary Jane was the cook and the one who managed the household. Bill also served as the disciplinarian. If he told you to do something he expected you to do it. There were no “second chances”. One of the rules at the Pollock house was that you always had to leave your keys in your car. That’s because when Bill got up in the morning to go to the restaurant he wanted to be able to take whatever care he felt like taking.
Bill could be found at the Tennessee Café (after it moved from Fountain Green) most mornings unless he was in Eminence and then he could be found at T & T’s. He enjoyed the company.
Bill was a very good dancer. He liked to go dancing with his bride. He had a good singing voice (even though he didn’t use it much). He liked to bowl, play golf, and watch the races. At other times when he was watching television it was usually FoxNews or RFD TV.
When Bill could no longer farm, his lawn became like his farm. He cared for it as if it was a crop he was going to harvest. He loved the outdoors. He loved the flowers, the hummingbirds, the dogs (most of them) and enjoyed life.
Above everything else Bill Pollock loved his family. He was proud of his siblings, his kids, his grandkids and his great grandkids. He was unwavering in his love for Mary Jane and she loved him back. Bill liked going to ballgames where any of the kids were playing. It’s said that whenever their team lost it was always the fault of the officials!
Bill loved spending time with his kids and really enjoyed passing on to them things he learned and things he loved. Bill also loved the mates of his children . . . but they sometimes had to go through a period of initiation before they could become a part of the family. The first time Don met him Bill came in the house after bailing hay or something. He sat down in his chair and opened up the paper. Didn’t say a word to Don. Mary Jane called out and asked if Bill was sitting in the chair with his dirty pants on. Bill stood up, dropped his pants, sat back down and said, “Nope”. Surprisingly, Don came back and even married Pam.
Apparently you learned very quickly to ask if Bill was wearing his pants and you always needed to check to see if he was in the bathroom with the door open (Bill thought bathroom doors to be unnecessary) before you came to far into the house. You also learned that if Bill shook his empty glass it meant that he wanted a refill and if he was staring at the ketchup it meant he wanted you to pass him the ketchup. He wasn’t always the most patient man.
Bill loved Christmas (although he sometimes pretended he didn’t). He didn’t care if he got any presents but he did like seeing everyone else open their presents. I understand it was a Pollock tradition to buy a Christmas tree at the very last minute and to buy a tree that was significantly bigger than the room in which it would be placed. However, I have the distinct feeling that Bill loved having everyone home for Christmas. He loved watching the joy in the faces. He loved looking around at everyone. It reminded him that he was a man who had been very richly blessed.
There will be lots of things that remind you of Bill.
- When you are chilly on a winter’s night and you ask “am I going to have to light a fire in this trash can?”
- Whenever you see horses
- When you call someone a “zero”
- When you see the kids playing out at the ball diamond
- When you drive by the café in Tennessee
- When you hear (or think about) the song “Sneaky Snake”
- When Steamburgers are on the menu
- When you have a taste for Diet Squirt
- When you go to get a Christmas Tree
- And every time the family gets together.
- You have been left a truckload of memories and wonderful heritage . . . give thanks.
Let’s face it, there is nothing fun about a funeral. As we gather today our hearts are heavy. It doesn’t matter how much you expected death or how prepared you thought you were, you are never ready to let go of someone you love.
I share a couple of things with you today. First, grief is normal. It’s ok to cry. It’s appropriate to be numb and even feel nothing. Sometimes it hurts so much that can’t comprehend the loss, so your system shuts down for a while. The numbness is God’s way of helping us to cope.
Tears are appropriate. Author Max Lucado writes,
Those tiny drops of humanity. Those round, wet balls of fluid that tumble from our eyes, creep down our cheeks, and splash on the floor of our hearts. They are always present at such times. They should be, that’s their job. They are miniature messengers; on call twenty-four hours a day to substitute for crippled words. They drip, drop, and pour from the corner of our souls, carrying with them the deepest emotions we possess. They tumble down our faces with announcements that range from the most blissful joy to darkest despair.
The principle is simple; when words are most empty, tears are most apt.
A tearstain on a letter says much more than the sum of all its words. A tear falling on a casket says what a spoken farewell never could. What summons a mother’s compassion and concern more quickly than a tear on a child’s cheek? What gives more support than a sympathetic tear on the face of a friend?
That task, my friend, was left for the tears.
(Max Lucado, No Wonder They Call Him the Savior.)
Bill would probably be uncomfortable to see you weeping . . .but tears are fitting. Do not be embarrassed by your grief . . . it testifies to your love.
It is obvious to me that Bill was a loving and special person. Share your stories. They are a tribute to his life. Sometimes in the times of sadness we don’t want to share memories because we are afraid we will make family members cry.
I had an experience once when we had lost a cherished member of our family. We gathered at the next Christmas and I was asked to say the blessing before the meal. I mentioned that we were very aware of a empty place at our table. Immediately I began to hear people cry. Honestly, I was afraid that I was going to be in trouble. However, when the prayer was over I was shocked by the fact that people said, “I thought I was the only one thinking about the loss.” The rest of the day we laughed and we cried as we shared memories and celebrated a special life.
Share your stories. Your story will provoke other memories. I am sure that there is nothing Bill would like more than to be remembered by those who love him.
There is a second thing I need to say to proclaim: there is more to life than what we see. In some respects, it’s easy to dismiss the whole notion of life beyond the grave as something we need to say in order to get through the hard times. It’s easy to dismiss until you stand before the casket of someone you love.
I don’t think eternity is an illusion. The greatest piece of evidence for life beyond the grave is the Resurrection of Jesus. The factual nature of this event is, I believe, overwhelming. If Jesus rose from the dead then there must be life beyond the grave. If He rose from the grave, then He should be the One we listen to and follow. If Jesus rose from the dead, then we can have hope even in the midst of sadness and grief.
Jesus 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) When Jesus said this, He was talking to his dear friends, Mary and Martha at the funeral of their brother, Lazarus. There are three things to notice. First, notice the promise: “He who believes in me will live even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Jesus says there is life beyond the grave.
The Bible’s teaching is consistent. Death is not the end. There is existence and life that extends beyond the grave. It is a life that starts the moment we believe and goes on forever. It is a life that makes this life seem like only a moment. The Bible tells us that there are two possible destinations: Heaven and Hell. The life called Heaven is described in the Bible as a time and place filled with unimagined joy and the elimination of all that is evil or painful. We are told “God will wipe away every tear from their eye.” There is nothing good about the other alternative.
Second, notice the condition of the promise, “He who believes in me.” There are two common views about Heaven. One view seems to say that everyone who dies goes to Heaven except maybe the really really bad people (and we never consider ourselves in that group). The other view says that only those people who live “good” lives go to Heaven. The Bible says neither is true.
The Bible tells us that none of us have lived a good enough life to earn God’s favor or what we often think of as “heaven”. Even the best of us sin . . . and with great regularity. Think about it, even if we only sinned (did what was wrong in God’s eyes either in thought, word, or deed) three times a day (which would be a staggeringly very good day for most of us), that would be 21 times a week (if we could maintain this goodness) . . . almost a thousand times a year! By the end of our lives we would have committed tens of thousands of sins. And this, I remind you, would be a unrealistically good person! The debt of the best person is greater than they can pay.
The Bible tells us that the whole point of the death of Jesus was to give His life as a payment for our sin-debt.
I find that it helps me to think about it this way. If terrorists tried to take down the White House how many Secret Service personnel would give their lives to protect the President? I believe all of them would give their lives. And how many members of the Armed Forces would give their lives to protect the President? Hundreds and perhaps thousands. Why would you trade all those lives to protect just one? It is because of the office of the One. Jesus could give His life as a payment for millions upon millions because His position as Son of God made the sacrifice possible.
The condition to receive this forgiveness and new life is that we put our hope, faith, and confidence in Jesus and follow Him in the way we live our lives. The Bible is clear, only those who sincerely and truly trust Jesus Christ will be granted Heaven. Sincere trust is not a prayer you pray; it is a new direction to life. To really “have faith” or “believe” in Jesus means being willing to follow Him and rest in Him.
For those who believe (the Christian), death is not the end of the story; it is merely the end of the introduction to the story. Death is merely a time of transition. It is the transfer point leading to new life, reunion and celebration.
I don’t know the nature of Bill’s faith, but God does. I don’t know what he believed about Christ, but God does. I don’t know why Bill was not really interested in going to church, but God does. I know this: If Bill called out in faith to Christ, he is enjoying the blessing of Heaven and he looks forward to the most joyous of family reunions.
One more thing, note the important question that Jesus asked. Jesus asked these sisters: “Do you believe this?” We can speculate all day long about what Bill believed. We can’t know. The more important question today is: What do you believe? The answer to this question makes a world of difference in how you face this day. For those who do not believe, this day is the height of futility (we live, we die, that’s it). For those who do trust Christ, this is a day when we grieve but with a hope of a future reunion because of God’s grace.
Use this day to face the ultimate question in your life: what is there beyond this life? Resolve today that you will not face that day unprepared. Turn to Christ. Begin developing a relationship with Him. Tell your family members of your decision so that they will KNOW what you believe.
It’s my prayer that you will hold tight to Christ. And as you do, remember also all those things Bill taught you:
- Tell the truth
- Don’t make excuses
- Be proud of your family
- Be “comfortable” in your own home
- Appreciate the majesty of creation
- Dance a little
- Laugh a lot
- And always jump at the chance to be part of a parade
Please pray with me.
Our Father, I pray for this family. I ask that you help them to remember the good times and the great blessings. Keep the memories sharp. Help them to build on the strong foundation that was laid out for them by Bill.
I ask also Father that you help us to hold fast to Christ. Thank you for making a way for us to live even though we die. Thank you for loving us so greatly. Help us to see with clarity and to place our trust in you.
Lord we commit Bill to your gracious, merciful and loving hands. We ask that you communicate to him how much he is missed already. We ask this all in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.