Our precious friend to STR, Buddy Williams, went to Heaven this afternoon. He finished a vicious battle with multiple myeloma, which was diagnosed only a few months ago.
Buddy wasn't a name STR people know, but he has had a tremendous impact on all of us. Since he's been sick, I've tried to answer people's question about what Buddy did for us, and I still can't adequately answer it.
He was a consultant we've worked with and he was a dear friend to all of us, and he became one of my best friends. He was a brother to me. Buddy was the most different from me of all of my friends - creative, right-brained, lively, liberal, fun. It's not that my other friends aren't fun, but Buddy enjoyed life like no one else I know, and he
brought a spark of fun to my life. We laughed a lot. We shared a lot of interests, and he introduced me to new ones. Buddy relished knowledge and could contribute something to nearly any subject of conversation. He was a connoisseur of many things. I don't think I ever saw him wear anything other than "island wear" (see the picture). Buddy was a character, sophisticated, down-to-earth, and friendly to everyone. He inspired friendship and has all different kinds of friends. He loved his family dearly.
Buddy started working with STR more than 12 years ago give us counsel about all aspects of the ministry. He brought expertise to our team that we didn't have ourselves. He was very skilled and insightful. He enjoyed working with us and making his contribution to the Kingdom via STR and other ministries he worked with. He loved being a part of STR's work. He helped STR grow to what it is now, by God's grace. We really don't know where we'd be without him. And we don't know how we'll do without him. I've learned to trust God in these last few months when we realized Buddy wasn't going to ever make his weekly visits to STR anymore. I know God will give us good counsel in a new way, but I wish it were still Buddy's.
The first time I met Buddy he thought our stationary was stodgy looking. He was right - he was almost always right. He got us to think outside the box, as least as much as possible for such left-brained people. He thought up the ABCs as the basic training. "Never Read a Bible Verse" was prompted by a question Buddy asked Greg, "What's the most important thing you can teach someone?"
Tuesdays was his regular day with us. He'd sit across from me at the conference table and we'd be off for an invigorating day. He was always available to us - he was generous with his time. He was always willing to help us professionally and personally. In the middle of his daughter's wedding preparation, he took the time to help me when I was panicking over a problem I didn't know how to handle.
One of the last things he initiated was the redesign of STR's website that will launch next year. When he conceived of it we had no inkling he wouldn't be with us through the whole process. We got to show him the wireframes and homepage design when he was in the hospital and get his nod of approval.
I saw him yesterday knowing it would be the last time. He was so happy to be going home from the hospital today and it made me happy just seeing him. With difficulty, he talked about plans to spend Christmas at home with his family that he loved so dearly. He did make it home today, but then shortly, with his precious family around him, went Home.
I know he's completely healed now. He sees face to face and is joyful. I know that he gets to spend the merriest of Christmases with Jesus. I'll miss him and I'll never be the same without his presence in my life. He was a tremendous gift from God, and we are very thankful that for a time He gave us Buddy. I know he heard the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant." And that today Buddy sees the full effect of His service to God's Kingdom.
And that still doesn't adequately answer the question of what he meant to us.