As Memorial Day approaches, I thought it would be a good thing to remember those former ICR workers who have already gone to be with the Lord. It is surprising to realize how many there are.
For example, there was Dr. Richard Bliss, who first came here in 1976 and served many years as head of our Science Education Department. He had been director of the Racine, Wisconsin, Public School Science Education System. Among other things here, he developed ICR's ministry of Good Science Workshops for parents and teachers.
Then, there was Dr. Tom Barnes, who was the first Dean of our ICR Graduate School. Dr. Barnes had been professor of physics at the University of Texas (El Paso) for many years and had directed many significant research projects there. He laid an excellent foundation for our Graduate School.
Although he was only with us for a few years before his death, Dr. Dick Lumsden made a distinct contribution with his outstanding teaching and biological research, plus seminar speaking and debating.
Dr. Andy Morris, my youngest son, was taken by cancer at the untimely age of 39, while serving on the Business Management Systems faculty at Florida State University. He had previously served very briefly as organizing chairman of the Business Administration Department at Christian Heritage College and had taught statistics and computer applications at ICR.
One of the leading librarians in the evangelical world, Dr. Arnold Ehlert, was ICR's library director for many years before retiring, shortly before his death. Dr. Ehlert had been head librarian at Dallas Seminary, Fuller Seminary, Biola University, and Christian Heritage College before coming to ICR, organizing our library into a fully accreditable component of the ICR Graduate School.
One other full-time staff member, Clara Mae Bradley, was not a scientist, but for many years was a key member of the ICR team, in charge of the shipping and mailing room, including coordination of a large number of volunteer workers, especially in ICR's earlier days.
Another fine scientist, Dr. Don Hamann, Professor of Food Technology at North Carolina State, served on our Technical Advisory Board for over a quarter of a century from the very beginning of ICR until his own death in 1996. He had been a close friend of mine since 1962. We served together on the Virginia Tech engineering faculty and as charter members of Blacksburg's Harvest Baptist Church.
Although never actually on the ICR staff, another very important member of the team had been George Hillestad. He had actually served first as a vice-president of Christian Heritage College, then later led in the organization of Creation-Life Publishers (now known as Master Books) to provide an outlet for ICR's technical books, serving until his death in 2001, frequently as General Manager. Mr. Hillestad was also largely responsible for arranging the first American meetings of the Australian creationist Ken Ham, who then joined the ICR staff for several years.
Three other members of the CLP-Master Books Board of Directors who are now with the Lord were Ralph Radford, a San Diego businessman who served several years as Chairman, Dr. Perry Alexander, a great Christian medical man, and George Mott, founder and president of Mott Media Publishing Company.
ICR has also had a number of fine and faithful Christian men on its Board of Trustees all these years. Several of whom have now graduated to Heaven.
Most recent of these has been Dr. Bill McCandless, a gracious and eminently capable obstetrician. "Dr. Bill" had delivered several of my own grandchildren (all now grown and healthy) and had served in several offices of the Board and on various committees. He had been a Board member from the very beginning and had been exceptionally helpful during times of crisis and key decisions.
Other departed members of the Board have been Howard Batchelor, Ed Tizzard, and Sidney Jansma. Howard Batchelor was a Lutheran inventor and entrepreneur, always faithful at Board meetings. Ed Tizzard, only on the Board during our first several years, had been the producer of the missionary film Peace Child. Sidney Jansma, president of Republic Oil Company in Michigan, was never able to attend Board meetings, but faithfully supported the work; even financing several reprintings of Dr. Gish's landmark book, Evolution: The Fossils Say No!
I should also mention various "help-meets" of the men of our staff who have passed on. Especially helpful was Lorraine ("Lolly") Gish, who accompanied Dr. Duane Gish on so many of his speaking trips, especially to such exotic overseas assignments as in Brazil, South Korea, Scandinavia, the Caribbean nations, Russia, and many others. She was always a gracious, unpaid ICR "ambassadress," making many friends for ICR all over the world.
The same was true of Sharon Manning, wife of Tom Manning, who (as ICR's Stewardship Director) had been in charge of arrangements, logistics, and general supervision of numerous ICR tours to Grand Canyon and other places, each with a hundred or so paying guests from our constituencies.
I should also mention Mary LaHaye, who had been the wife of our current librarian, Dick LaHaye (brother of Dr. Tim LaHaye), until she died of a sudden heart attack one day in her garden, and Thelma Ehlert, long-time wife of Dr. Ehlert. Both Dr. and Mrs. Ehlert died within a few days of each other while living in a retirement community in Tustin, California.
Several wives of our Board members have also died during their husband's tenure on our Board of Trustees. These include Alice Huntington, wife of Lee Huntington (a prominent San Diego engineer and industrialist); Flo Franks, wife of Robert Franks, M.D. (now retired from general practice, but still serving as an adjunct professor of biology in our graduate school); Dottie Mather (wife of the former owner of the "Mister Steak" chain of restaurants, Jim Mather); and Dru Vandervort, wife of Lowell Vandervort, former CEO of the Eisenhower Memorial Hospital in Palm Springs. Mrs. Vandervort faithfully worked with the writers in all the writing workshops organized by Dr. Bliss to develop teaching materials for use in schools willing to include creation science in their studies.
All of these ladies, though not on our regular staff (except for Clara Mae Bradley) were winsome Christian women, fully supportive of ICR and the work of their husbands in relation to it.
For whatever it's worth, most of their "widowers" were apparently so convinced of the benefits of a happy Christian marriage that they did not remain unmarried very long. Most readers already know (via Acts & Facts) that Dr. Duane Gish is now the husband of the former Lolly Bliss, formerly the long-term wife of Dr. Dick Bliss, who, like the first Mrs. Gish, had accompanied her first husband on many ICR speaking trips—including even the island kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific, as well as various Central American nations and others.
Similarly, Dick LaHaye is now married to another ICR staff member, the former Penny Lawrence, now in charge of our Customer Service Section. Tom Manning is married to a former New Tribes missionary, Grace Manning.
Board members, Dr. Bob Franks, Lee Huntington, and Jim Mather, are now married to Carol (also an M.D.), Kitty, and Linda, respectively, and all are wonderful additions to the greater ICR team.
I could even mention my own mother, Mrs. Ida Hunter Morris who died in 1983 at the age of 84. She was a wonderful secretary and, although she never received any salary or fee from ICR, typed and edited over ten of my book manuscripts, including the longest of all, The Genesis Record.
We do miss those who have departed to glory, but must rejoice with them as they are with the Lord. God has been gracious, in both their coming and going!
No doubt, others will join them from time to time. ICR is now over thirty years old, and several of us are getting along in years, but the Lord has wonderfully brought together many younger staff members, both scientists and support staff—so that I believe the ministry will continue to grow stronger and more and more fruitful until the Lord Jesus returns.
I realize that some of our readers believe that, when a Christian dies, his soul remains "asleep" in Jesus, unconscious in the grave, until Christ does return at the day of resurrection. Most evangelical Christians believe, however, that only the physical body is sleeping until that great day. That is, as Paul says, we are convinced that "to be absent from the body" is "to be present with the Lord" (II Corinthians 5:8). Like him, we believe that "to live is Christ, and to die is gain" so that "to depart, and to be with Christ . . . is far better" than anything in this life (Philippians 1:21,23).
In any case, all Bible-believing Christians agree with the clear Biblical teaching that some day (possibly very soon), when the Lord comes back to Earth's atmospheric heaven, all of us who have saving faith in Christ and His marvelous work of redemption "shall be caught up together . . . to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words" (I Thessalonians 4:17-18).
These are, indeed, comforting words, from "the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort" (II Corinthians 1:3). We are glad we are able to remember and memorialize those ICR men and women who have gone on before, on this Memorial Day. But it will be even more joyous when Christ comes back and we can actually be with them all once again. "Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20).