My father-in-law, Duane Vernon Juve, passed away on Saturday, August 6, 2011 at the age of 76. Yesterday morning at West Oaks Community Church, Minnetonka, Minnesota, approximately 300 family, friends and pastoral colleagues gathered to commemorate Duane’s life and legacy. Several people were asked to offer their memories in tribute to Duane, and I spoke on behalf of the spouses of Duane’s children. Below, you can read the unedited transcript which I brought to the podium. After a long pause to control my emotions, I was finally able to get this out…
(You can also read my initial thoughts about Duane’s passing here.)
My name is Lon Hetrick and I live outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I’m married to Duane’s second daughter, Dawn, and I’ve been asked to remember Duane on behalf of his sons- and daughter-in-law. We all loved Duane, admired him, and we will miss him.
I’d like to tell you a little now about Duane, as I knew him.
I first met Duane in 1983, when he was the pastor of Philadelphia Church here in Minneapolis and I was a 20-year-old transfer student at North Central. In all the 28 years since then, I always knew Duane to be a man of quiet warmth, humility and integrity. As we all know, he was steadfast and faithful as a husband, father, pastor, and hospital chaplain. But he was also this as a father-in-law and friend.
In short, Duane was a good man. That’s how we all knew him. But, I want to emphasize that Duane was good to his sons-in-law and to his daughter-in-law. Duane was good to me. He was a mid-western farm-boy turned pastor, with little reason to be kind to the somewhat tactless northeastern military kid who started dating his second daughter. And yet, he was accepting and generous and non-judgmental, even generous enough to give his blessing when I asked to marry that daughter. And in 1986, he honored me by officiating as Dawn and I exchanged our vows.
That was Duane’s first wedding for one of his own kids. You know, an event like that might make you a little… anxious. And like a lot of us, Duane occasionally got his words mixed up when he was nervous. As Dawn and I stood before him that day, he switched the best man’s name with mine and almost married off Dawn to the wrong guy.
And sometime during his welcome to the family and friends in attendance, the word “kinship” came out as “kingfish”.
Dawn got the giggles… and never quite recovered.
I can still hear D’Wana hissing, “Dawn, settle down!”
I didn’t mind. I was just glad to see my bride smiling and happy on our wedding day.
I always enjoyed Duane’s company. I liked talking with him. He was good at sharing and listening. Over the years, we made a small tradition of going out to breakfast together whenever we were in town so I could ask some advice and swap stories. The subjects were predictable and pleasant: family, church, pastor friends, Jesus…and Sven and Ole.
I especially looked forward to hearing the latest Sven and Ole joke. They always sounded so natural coming from his lips. They never sounded right from mine.
And during the last few visits to the Juve house, I also got to go with Duane to dialysis. He always knew everybody there and introduced me around warmly.
Duane was a people-person, as we all know. And he served people more than most anyone I know: preaching, counseling, marrying, baptizing, praying, encouraging.
And he also suffered more than most people I know. As a teen, polio almost took his ability to walk. By the time he was my age, he had already lost a kidney – and almost his life – to cancer.
Duane was a suffering servant. That’s why we admired him and loved him, and that’s why we’re here.
But if I may, I’d like to point out a significant lesson of Duane’s life that I think he would not want us to miss.
Duane would be gratified to know we are all here remembering him fondly. But he wouldn’t want us to think, “Duane was such a good guy. He was such a servant, such a sufferer – surely, he deserves God’s welcome in heaven.”
Duane was a good man. But his goodness was not enough to earn that welcome. No. I believe Duane would say his heavenly home was earned for him by another man, purchased for him by someone who served and suffered perfectly on his behalf.
This is the essence of the Christian message, the gospel, the good news, that Duane believed and preached: That God will accept us, not because of our own merits, but because of the merits of that man: Jesus, the Suffering Servant of God.
Being a Christian means reaching the end of your days, and knowing as Duane did, that however fondly people may remember you, your only real hope of heaven is the Man who served God as you would not, and suffered for sin as you could not.
We will all remember Duane fondly. But my comfort concerning Duane is that he lived in that hope. He trusted in that hope, that Man, to his last breath. And I believe his hope did not fail him. For the prophet Isaiah spoke:
“He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each one of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6)