Posted by: Ingrid | April 15, 2008

Dr. Clyde Cook: June 1, 1935-April 11, 2008

I remember the disappointment I felt when I heard that Dr. Clyde Cook was going to be the speaker at my graduation. For some reason, I felt that someone NEW! FLASHY! EXCITING! would be better suited for the position. I wanted a speaker I could brag about, not the school president who was with us day in and day out, who could probably be described as humble, steadfast, faithful, and kind, but never flashy.

It was with great sadness that I opened an email this weekend announcing his sudden death on Friday evening. There was a sense of unreality, that surely he couldn’t be dead. Not after leading Biola for a quarter century, after gracefully stepping down and allowing a new president to lead the school into the school’s second century, not when there was finally time for home and grandkids and normal life.

 Dr. Cook seemed to be gifted at showing God’s love both to people around the world and students in the hallway.I remember him sitting in chapel, walking stoop-shouldered around the campus, speaking at various events, and chatting with students. I remember not recognizing him when he returned to campus post-presidency, in casual pants and a polo shirt rather than his standard suit and tie.

He was someone you could call a good and gentle man with sincerity. He was a gentleman who knew how to behave and when to fight for something.

I remember when he helped support me when I was raising money for and running the marathon with Team in Training.

I remember him personally singing happy birthday to me at Biola’s Christmas party at my then boyfriend’s request. He nearly forgot my name and it made me laugh.

I remember the banter between he and his wife at the BBW Valentine’s Day luncheon a year ago; endearing, engaging, real in a way only a relationship that has stood the test of many years together can be.

I remember him, when my mom was very sick, calling me at my desk, assuring me of his prayers, telling me about his brother who had died from cancer, asking for mom’s phone number, and praying with me at the end. I remember my mom’s slightly annoyed phone call the next day. Had I given Dr. Cook her phone number? He’d called to pray with her. What was I telling the people I worked with? (That you’re dying, mom. You’re dying.)

Death never comes at the right time. There is always more life to be lived. Even seventy-three years doesn’t seem enough and the end comes so suddenly. His wife and children and grandchildren and school will miss him. He was the sort of man whose death ripples out though many many lives.

But having lived faithfully for so many years in the shadow, what a joy the breaking eternal sunlight must have been.

 

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