On April 3, I attended the funeral of my 94-year-old friend Cecil. He was a man of faith and a man of character. I considered myself blessed to know him and to actually have chances to bounce ideas around with him. He once called me “my boy” in a passing sentence; I wasn’t related to him through any family tree, but I took the phrase as a badge that I was happy to wear. He was a man to aspire after; besides that high praise, closer-to-earth comments fit Cecil too, like this one: He was a wonderfully easy man to enjoy.
At his funeral, his son-in-law read this eulogy. I found it quite beautiful and have finally found a copy to post.
Whether or not you knew a man named Cecil Bailey is irrelevant. The words below testify to a life well lived. I’ve bolded parts that I found especially touching.
It is a shame that eulogies are reserved for funerals; life I’m sure would be so much more enjoyable if our positive characteristics were those which others chose to see.
However you know my father-in-law; Mr. Bailey, Brother Bailey, Cecil Bailey, uncle, dad or grandpa, you know him as a man of honour and integrity.
He did not fear death, but looked forward to it; in life and death he was an example and encouragement to those around him.
We do not mourn his passing as one fading into oblivion, but rejoice in his passage into the heavenly home.
A verse from the Prologue of the book “Paul”, written by Brother Bailey reflects his admiration of the apostle and in some ways speaks to his own life.
The impact of his life’s beyond ‘renown’;
Because of him the world is richer far.
His foes declared he ‘turned it upside down!’
Not so. To all mankind he is a guiding star.
Paul told the Corinthians; “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” I think my father-in-law took that recommendation to heart.
While it may be said of him that, what you saw is what you got; the sometimes unpolished exterior belied the true nature of the inner man. Mr. Bailey achieved excellence in his roles as teacher and as principal in the secular educational system, but his real passion was teaching the truths contained in scripture.
My father-in-law had what it takes to be a great teacher – he was a consummate learner.
In his study he was fastidious; always searching; always learning. I don’t believe I’ve met a younger thinking old man. Brother Bailey did more than keep up with current thought; he was himself a forward thinker.
As to his religious leaning; he was a conservative liberal fundamentalist.
Mr. Bailey held a deep loyalty to Christ and to the church; he was persistent in belief, and, in his commitment to God he was totally loyal. He loved God’s word and derived pleasure and strength from it.
In honesty dad was above reproach; he was tireless in promoting justice. He stood up for those unable to stand up for themselves. He was uncompromising in ethics and highly principled in life.
He learned to forgive and love those who wronged him; and developed patience toward those who misunderstood him.
If I were asked what kind of man my father-in-law was, I would think back to a bleak cold winter’s day; he had traveled from Winnipeg to Regina in minus 40o temperatures, as he often did he picked up a hitch-hiker; when he dropped the guy of on the outskirts of Regina he gave him $10 and his winter coat. The $10 was likely all he had on him and he didn’t have another coat.
Cecil would literally give the shirt off his back; he generously practiced true religion which Jesus described in a pictorial scene of the judgment.
“I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat;
I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink;
I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me;
I was sick, and you visited Me;
I was in prison, and you came to Me.”
Cecil Bailey did all of those things; and I expect that in this gathering some of us were recipients in one or more ways of his generosity.
Cecil Bailey was a stabilizing influence in the brotherhood of Christians; a stalwart of the faith; a champion of love; he will be missed.