A dear member of my church family passed away Saturday. William Webster Hall. Mr. Bill. I normally don’t have a problem with words, but somehow I find it difficult to know what to say. So, along with my own, I will share some thoughts, words, and remembrances I’ve heard from others whose lives are richer for knowing Mr. Bill.
Patriot. Mr. Bill is a Marine. Once a Marine, always a Marine. And not just any Marine; as a corporal during World War II, he stormed the beaches of Iwo Jima. A friend once asked him if he was scared when he hit the beach. He said scared didn’t begin to cover it. Yet, he did it anyway. In true Marine fashion, he was faithful to his duty and country. He has a purple heart and other accolades to prove it.
Encourager. No stranger to adversity, Mr. Bill survived World War II, cancer, and the death of two sons. He didn’t encourage with casual word or fluffy statement, but with empathetic, heart-felt support. He took time to understand your situation and struggle and to remind you that you mattered. When you encountered Mr. Bill, you knew he genuinely cared about you.
Friend. I never actually met Mr. Bill. I ran into him at a community function. He’d heard me sing at church and knew who I was so, that was enough for him. His first words to me were, “Hey, buddy, when are you going to sing again?” We talked like we’d been friends for years. That was Mr. Bill. I don’t think he ever met a stranger, just friends he didn’t know. We never spent much time together, but whenever we met, it always felt like we did. I’d ask him how he was doing, and he’d ask when I was going to sing again. I considered him my biggest fan.
I’m going to miss my friend. I’m going to miss looking out on Sunday mornings and seeing him in his familiar place. But I know I will see him again. Remembering him reminds me of the last few words of the Marines’ Hymn:
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s scenes;
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.
Attention to Orders: A great Marine has transferred his duty station.
Semper Fi, Mr. Bill.