Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A tribute to Gene Moore

Yesterday my sister and I officiated at the funeral of my uncle Gene Moore in Estherville, Iowa.  I have many wonderful memories of Gene.  The following are edited remarks of the funeral I shared.

I'ts good to be gathered as family and friends to remember Gene and bear witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It's said that sometimes it's these funerals that brings ur together as family.  But we can celebrate that so many famiy and friends came back to remember Gene.  We have many memories.  I've known Gene all my life--and I have lots of stories--many of them I can't share at a church service.

He was born on August 20, 1937 not far from here in Estherville.  His brother Dean came first.  After Dean was born Dorothy said that she was glad that the birth was done.  The doctor informed her that she wasn’t done yet.  Out came Gene—Dean’s womb mate.  They became close for their entire life—along with his three brothers and sister.  They grew up on the home farm.   He gradutated from high school in the mid 50’s.  He rented some land from his dad, Lee and started farming.  He met Ellen and got married on May 19, 1962 in Jackson, Minnesota.           

Gene and Ellen had two boys—Rodney and Roger—both born on April 1—and we had a lot of fun letting them know when we were growing up about being born on April Fool’s Day.  We spent a lot of time together at family gathering.  Picnics on the home farm, picnics at Wolden park; family gatherings during December at someone’s house and then later in Ringsted.            

Our family enjoyed the time we spent on the farm.  My family was the city slickers coming from the metropolis of Worthington, Minnesota.  Gene would always loudly laugh at our ignorance about life on the farm.           

When farming didn’t work out during the farm crisis in the 80’s he and Ellen moved to Nebraska.  At the time there was a movie about the farm crisis starring Jessica Lange.  I remember asking Gene and Ellen if they saw it.  Ellen told me they didn’t need to see it as they lived it.  But life got better and they returned to farming here in northwest Iowa.          

Gene was very attached to his mother, Dorothy.  He and Dean hardly ever missed a midmorning snack at the home place with Dorothy.  They would come in at midmorning to see what their mother had made them.  They would talk loudly and get caught up on the news.  Gene was a tough, burly man who hardly ever cried.   One of the few times I saw him shed tears was at his mothers’ funeral.
One of my favorite stories of Gene is when he had to come to the hospital in Rochester.  My family was living at Rochester at the time.  Somehow Gene had flesh eating gangrene.  He got it on a particular part of the body that is unique to men.  Let’s just say that a male has two of them.  When Gene came to the hospital a doctor told him that because of the gangrene he wouldn’t be able to use one of these two parts of the male anatomy.  “That’s okay,” Gene hollered back in a way that only a Moore could.  With Gene there was frequent hollering.  “I don’t use it anyways.”
Gene was not a religious man, but he was always interested in what I was doing with the church.  He had fun telling me that hell would freeze over before he would be caught going to church on a regular basis.  But he was always interested in what was happening at the Presbyterian Church in Ringsted.  He knew who the pastors were; he knew how well liked or disliked they were.  He paid attention.
When Ellen passed away almost three years ago, Gene lost his will to live.  He had a stroke at a Moore Christmas gathering and then had to go to the nursing home.  It didn’t seem right that this burly, strong man of a farmer had to spend so much time couped up in the nursing home.  The stroke took away some of his mental capacities.  When he passed away last Wednesday, we could all say that it was his time.
God loved Gene with a passion that goes far beyond what we can imagine.  The apostle Paul wrote that nothing can separate us from the love of god.  Nothing.  Not height nor depth nor angels nor anything else in all of creation.  God loved Gene.  When the woman walked to the tomb on Easter morning they were expecting to find a dead body.  When they got to the tomb the angel told them that Jesus was not there—he was risen.  Because of God raised Jesus from dead we have faith that Gene is enjoying his heavenly home.
The task is how will we live in the days ahead.  This is our opportunity to re-commit ourselves to God—to give thanks to God for the everlasting love that we have received and to respond to this love by growing in faith.  Gene would get a kick out of it if all of us committed ourselves to God and the church because of his passing.
Even though it was Gene’s time we’re sad about his departure.  There’s a hole in our life that didn’t exist a week ago.  We have many rich memories and we will carry these memories with us.  It’s up to us as family and friends to stay together.  In the days ahead we can rely on each other and upon the grace of God to wipe away the tears that we have.
The world was a better place because Gene walked the rich soil of northwest Iowa.  Praise God for the life of Gene Moore.  Praise God for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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