Since the news is always filled with sad stories about evil doers and greedy people, when I heard recently of the death of a really good person, I had to blog about it. Her name is Lynn Grimes and she’s one of those people that seemed to carry sunshine on her shoulders and in her eyes. She was the bubbly Christian Education Director at Okemos Community Church during my formative years in high school, and took a group of pretty rowdy kids—my friends—and taught us about biblical matters. That’s no easy task, because a lot of kids that age aren’t necessarily into religion. But with stories, songs and activities, Lynn made it all fun. Lynn also kept me in the church choir, got me to love the hand bell choir, and helped me survive being in two musicals–Godspell and Jonah the Tale of the Whale.
Lynn also took us on special trips. I recall one camping trip where she got us to move an entire giant pile of firewood from one location to the other, then led us in songs around the campfire, after which we watched movies—black and white ones like Creature of the Black Lagoon and Them. Between bits of work and fun, we talked about Biblical matters in a way that young adults could relate to. And because we could somehow relate to Lynn, we could ask Lynn just about anything, which, during those teenage years, meant a lot. Lynn was such a trusting, good leader that if she’d told us to move the entire camp, we would have done that. And cheerfully.
After I graduated from high school Lynn completed her seminary classes in Chicago, which meant spending three days a week in Chicago attending classes, and then driving back home to her husband and boys in Michigan. That takes a supportive husband, which Kip was. He also was the bus driver on our camping trips. (And a fellow state employee, I might add.)
After completing her seminary work, Lynn became an associate pastor in my home town of Okemos, and later, a senior pastor in Grand Ledge and in Holt. She also became a district supervisor. Between all those churches and all those activities, well, just imagine the number of lives she touched.
Eighteen or so years ago, Mark and I asked Lynn to officiate our wedding. During the rehearsal, Lynn guided us like a music conductor, and she led a beautifully orchestrated wedding. About three years ago, I ran into Lynn at a Lansing area eye doctor’s office and she was her usual upbeat self. She inquired about each member of my family by name.
Last week a co-worker told me she’d seen Lynn in the hospital over the Christmas holiday, just after Lynn underwent surgery for a brain tumor. In spite of her condition, Lynn waved at my co-worker, smiled and wished her well. Lynn passed away just weeks later.
Thank you, Lynn, for all the sunshine you brought into our lives. And thank you, Kip, being a great husband of 47 years, always there at Lynn’s side. You were both great mentors to a bunch of rowdy high school kids, who—based on the ones that showed at the funeral anyway—seemed to turn out pretty well. Not surprisingly, when we got together yesterday at Lynn’s funeral, we all broke out in song.