Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Aurelia Stookey and Gary Gowler

John Everett Millais, The Lost Coin
Tate Gallery, London
Photo by David Gowler

Please enjoy the wonderful work of art by Millais, but 
today I want just to write a personal note about two of the finest human beings I have ever known:

First, Aurelia Stookey, my mother-in-law, passed away thirteen years ago (December 30, 2002). Here is what I wrote about her and her husband (Mitchell Stookey) in the Preface of my James Through the Centuries book, which I dedicated to their memories:

This volume is dedicated to the memory of two of the most wonderful human beings I have ever known: Aurelia Stookey and Mitchell Stookey. They, more than anyone I know, were “doers of the word,” spending much of their time either actively working for the well being of others or thinking about what actions they could take to promote the well being of others. Aurelia and Mitchell Stookey epitomized the wisdom (from above) and understanding mentioned in James 3:13, and their good lives were filled with good works done in “gentleness born of wisdom.” They were also exceedingly gracious, loving, and kind, and they welcomed me into their family with open arms. They, justifiably, were incredibly proud of their children—Donald, Charlyn, Patricia, Mary Jane, Jerry, Tom, Joe, and Rita—their grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren (too numerous to mention here). I am grateful for the years that I was able to be with them and to learn from them, and I am proud to be a member of their wonderful family. Most of all, I am thankful for their eighth child, the greatest gift I have ever received.

Second, Gary Gowler, my brother, would have been 62 years old today (December 30). Here is what I wrote about Gary on the second anniversary of his death:

Gary Gowler (1953-2013)

The parable of the Sheep and Goats in Matthew includes these words:
34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”
Yesterday was the second anniversary of my brother Gary's death at the age of 59. 

In many ways, life goes on; in many ways, it will never be the same.

This blog is not primarily a personal blog; it is a blog about the reception history of the parables. I do want to say, though, that Gary's reception of the above parable was a deep and active one. If anyone "deserves" to hear those words from the "king" in the parable, Gary does.

I know it is a cliche to say this about those who have left us, but Gary's influence lives on--through his wonderful family, his extended family, and through all the friends, students, and others whose lives he touched so deeply.

Perhaps the best goal for anyone's life would be to strive to make the difference in the lives of other human beings that Gary made in his all-too-brief life.

Gary, you are still missed very, very much.

Rick Gowler, Gary Gowler, David Gowler, Nancy Gowler Johnson
December 30, 2011

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