He was my most faithful supporter. At the end of each day he would say: “Tell me something good that happened at the seminary.” Douglas loved to hear about Central (he had endured hard years at Southern with me) and reveled in what the community had called me to do as president. He may have been almost a little too proud…
I might never have pursued my Ph.D. without Douglas’ encouragement. For a man of his generation from his west Texas upbringing, he was remarkably welcoming of women in ministry. He also believed with me that things would not get better in the churches until they got better at the seminaries—with women serving as faculty. He deeply understood my calling and practiced for nearly thirty years a theology of: “Wherever she Leads I’ll go”—to Kentucky and to Kansas.
He was my unflagging Barnabas—whether reading something I was trying to write; listening to the same sermon over and over and thinking it profound; or finding ways to help me laugh when my pomposity was close at hand. Even when his hearing ebbed and his speech faltered, we both knew what the other was saying.
Douglas taught me about caring. As a GP in a small town, he was called on to do many things—and he did them with energy and excellence. He knew that it was “costly to care,” and he did not shrink from long hours and engagement with the generations of his practice. He understood that caring was an important part of healing. He also gave to the larger community and his church in varied ways: physicals for the football team; serving as camp doctor at the Falls Creek camp in southern Oklahoma; an easy going, non-anxious deacon; in addition, he was a teacher of young adults with his late wife Margaret.
Douglas taught me about growing in faith. He would read whatever I put before him, and we passed books back and forth, finding commonality and lively disagreement. In more recent years, he became interested in Benedictine spirituality and regularly consulted the Rule on how to live in loving ways with others. In these final years, the Psalter was his daily staple and he took great comfort in hearing the words of assurance and comfort. He loved God fervently and his spiritual formation continued.
Douglas also taught me about graceful aging and dying. He practiced medicine until he was 74 and then regretfully laid it down. He missed it in retirement—except during flu season! He kept reading his journals as long as he was able and remained interested in medical developments. In his long decline, he cultivated gratitude as a spiritual practice. He was unfailing in his gratitude to his caregivers—Kerry, Barb, Nadine, and me. And now, I give thanks for him—faithful husband and treasured friend. I entrust him to God’s safekeeping in resurrection hope. The words of the Apocalypse offer a benediction on his life:
The a voice from heaven said, “Write this down: Happy are they who die in Our God for all eternity.”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “let them rest from their work, for their deeds accompany them.” (Revelation 14:13)
Molly T. Marshall
For more information about Central’s perichoretic community, visit www.cbts.edu