A tearful, joyful farewell

Mon, 2007-02-19 08:21 -- univcomm
February 19, 2007

Father, grandfather, husband, community leader, college president, teacher, visionary — there is no end to the roles Dr. Robert Reardon played in his lifetime. One role resounded repeatedly during his funeral service Saturday held at Park Place Church of God: Faithful servant of God. “We are grateful for the journey with him and the example he set before us,” said Dr. James Edwards, president of Anderson University, during a prayer. “He showed us what it’s like to be faithful for the long haul.”

Visit a special tribute Web site for Dr. Robert Reardon

Listen to funeral service for Dr. Robert Reardon

Despite a fresh snow Saturday, hundreds of family, friends, colleagues and students came to pay their final respects and honor Reardon’s memory Saturday, filling the pews of the sanctuary and balcony and spilling into the foyer.

Reardon’s service was filled with reflections from those close to him, and each memory brought those in attendance to tears.

“He encouraged us all to walk humbly and faithfully with the Lord,” said Madison Superior Court Judge Dr. Dennis Carroll, reading from a letter written by Dr. Merle Strege, Anderson University professor of Religious Studies and historian for the Church of God. “Dr. Reardon offered us wisdom of all ages. What he taught us was true.”

Kathleen Ramsey, Reardon’s third daughter, shared some of the last conversations she had with her father, in which he offered her insight on life, love and faith. “I wanted you kids to know about love — a love Jesus spoke of,” said Kathleen, remembering her father’s voice.

Along with reflections and memories, Reardon’s service was filled with music. Congregational hymns were intertwined with selections performed by the Anderson University Chorale, a four-piece string quartet, soloists and even baseball great Carl Erskine, who played “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” on the harmonica.

A film was played near the end of the two-hour service in which a sea of pictures showed Reardon during the different times in his life — as a child, a parent, a husband and a community leader. Amidst the flashing memories on screen, one image particularly stood out, causing the sanctuary to bubble with laughter. With a smile on his face, Reardon stood as a younger man dressed in a Superman costume.

In all the memories relayed during the service, this picture reflected most how Reardon will forever be remembered: as a super man.

--Lynelle Miller is a reporter for the Anderson Herald Bulletin. Story reporinted with permission.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 60 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.