Sunday, September 19, 2010

If a man is fortunate in life . . .

If a man is fortunate in life, he will be raised by a great father.  I am a fortunate man to have such a father.

If a man is really fortunate in life, he will marry a woman who was raised by a great father.  I am a really fortunate man to have such a wife and father-in-law.

Both of these men have had a profound influence and impact on my life.  They have showed me what a Godly husband and a Godly father look like.  And I am forever grateful for their influence.  But, just how fortunate would I be to have had yet another man in my life that was a Godly model of what it is to be a man, a husband, a father, an employee and leading layman in his local church?

We recently lost such a man.  Paul Freese went home to be with the Lord on August 21, 2010.  Today he is with the Lord and I am left to ponder the weight and the value of his influence on my life. 

He and I first met at his house one evening back in the Fall of 1980.  I was visiting my girlfriend's (now my wife's) family for a holiday week-end.  I was told that acceptance in the family was not contingent upon what they thought about me.  It was contingent upon acceptance by Paul and Helen Freese.  And so we all trudged over to the Freese house.  I was there for inspection and evaluation.  And I was a little scared.

Little did I know how easy that evening would go.  And little did I expect to be made to feel so welcome into their home.  I was reviewed and inspected by Helen in the kitchen of their home.  There were the obligatory questions about my college studies and future plans.  And there were the somewhat unexpected questions about my life and my Faith.  As I look back now I am not surprised by those questions at all.

I guess I passed that initial inspection because I was dismissed to the family room where the men were hanging out.  And there I got to spend my first bit of quality time with Paul Freese.  But his reputation had already preceded him.  He was somewhat larger than life.  He was a V.P. and senior executive with a very prestigious environmental services company in the Washington, DC area.   He had a huge house in a quiet suburb.  He had a lovely wife and 3 successful grown children.  He was every thing I wanted to be.  But I was only looking at the surface.

The Freese's and my in-laws had a friendship that is as close as any that I had ever seen.  And since they were so close I had many opportunities over the years to be with them in many formal and informal occasions.  Many of those occasions occurred after Cathy and I were married.  In fact, we moved back to that part of the country at one point and we began to attend the same church as Paul and Helen.  For several years I had the opportunity to serve side-by-side with Paul on the Board of our local church.  It was in these years that we had the chance to sit and talk about many things.  He mentored me in many things.  He shared with me tidbits and insights into the business world, the church world and the "home" world.  I was still a young husband and a young father.  And these were opportunities for conversations that I vowed not to squander.

So what are some things I learned from Paul?

I learned that  a crew cut never really goes out of style.
I learned that being steady is harder than it looks.
I learned what it feels like to be a grown-up.
I learned that there is no higher calling in life than to be a man of God.

I learned that there is more to being a husband than bringing home a paycheck.
I learned that there is more to being a father than you see on TV.
I learned that there is more to being an employee than just showing up.
I learned that there is more to being a church leader than casting a vote as a board member.
I learned that a soft and thoughtful word is more powerful than a persuasive argument.
And I learned that I had value in Paul's eyes and he assured me that I had value in God's eyes.

Everything I "learned" from Paul I also was learning from my own father and my father-in-law.  But, Paul made some of these life lessons easier to receive from his lips than from my own father's.  I am pretty sure my own dad was smart enough to realize that.  And, if truth be known, my own dad is probably grateful for Paul's influence in my life.

So, I will not prolong this post.  Neither will I become maudlin.

I will just say, "Thank you Lord for putting Paul in my life while I was still young and 'moldable'.  And thank you Lord for helping me recognize what an opportunity was right in front of me."

If a man is fortunate in life, he is befriended by a man like Paul Freese.  I am a really fortunate man.

Paul V. Freese
March 7, 1926 - August 21, 2010


  1. Anonymous8:42 AM

    Thanks Kevin! Well said!

    John Nielson

  2. Anonymous9:26 AM

    Thanks Kevin.

    Your tribute to my dad truly warmed my heart...and made me cry...AGAIN...thanks alot!
    :-)...Dad was my best friend and still blesses my life with remembrances like this. I sure miss having coffee with him most everyday, while he continued to counsel with me with his words and daily example. Thanks so much!

    Dave Freese

  3. Anonymous8:04 AM

    Thanks for writing such a great tribute to my Dad. It was a blessing to read.

    Steve Freese