Tuesday, April 1, 2014

James Lang Webster

My father in law passed away on March 11th. I know when people die you tend to only write the best things about them. You rarely, if ever, see or hear unkind words about people upon their death. And that's how it should be. But in the case of Jim Webster, I don't think you could find anything unkind to say about him. I have known my husband for 12 years now and I am completely sincere when I say that I have never heard him say one negative thing about his Dad.

My sister-in-law Stacy and I like to joke that we married into the Cleaver family. As we were dating our future husbands, we were regaled with stories of a Dad who was pretty much top notch in every way possible. He was a hands-on Dad who performed science experiments, went on long nature walks, played trains on the floor, taught valuable lessons, loved their Mother, was at every soccer game, encouraged every passion, and was always there for them. He would patiently teach every species of tree and would always be ready to explain what exactly surface tension measured.

Jim had a PhD in Chemical engineering just like his father before him, and was a research chemist at DuPont for many years. He was a brilliant scientist with several patents in his name. But as my husband so eloquently pointed out at Jim's funeral, he was a perfect mix of right and left brain. He was an extremely scientific man, but for a research chemist he was incredibly creative too. He had an innate ability to look for solutions to problems from multiple angles. He also loved music and the arts. He encouraged all three of his children in their musical abilities and was known to sit by his kids bedside at night with a guitar playing songs.

Jim also loved the Lord. He took the commandments of the scriptures to heart, especially when Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God, and the second is like it: to love your neighbor as yourself. In Jim's estimation, this verse was clear: If you want to love God, you've got to love other people. Jim's first inclination when he showed up anywhere was to ask if there was anything he could do to help. If he showed up early for Sunday School and chairs needed to be arranged differently, he did it. He was part of a group of men that did repair work on homes of needy people. Even in the Alzheimer's home where he spent his remaining months, the workers found him helping to clear tables after meals.

His love of God was reflected in his unwavering devotion to his local church. He attended faithfully for decades, through good times and some that were quite difficult. But to quit was never an option. He made a decision to be a member, and it was his home. He served on every committee there was, and was even involved in leadership at the state level for the denomination. He loved being a part of something bigger than himself, and his chance to serve his church was an expression of that.

But the main reason I know that Jim Webster was a good Dad is because I married his son. And his son astounds me every day with his patience, his kindness and his love for our children. And I know he came by it honestly.

I wish my kids could have known their Grandaddy better. But he will live on through them. On the way home from the funeral Will had to stop and use the bathroom. Rob realized that we were driving right by the West Virginia state capitol. So he pulled over and the kids got a bathroom break and a tour of the state legislature. It was then that I knew that Jim's spirit was very much still with us. "All part of the process,' as he would say.

 Doesn't this one look so much like my Will? I had no no idea how much Will looked like his Grandfather until I saw these pictures.
Jim is the one on the very top right. Isn't this the most amazing picture? It was from a Boy Scout camp in Oklahoma, where he grew up. He looks like a movie star.

Rob's parents,  Jim and Virginia Webster
Rob's mother passed away from breast cancer in 1994.  A few years later Jim married Marsha Rutherford who has been a wonderful Mamaw to our children. We love her so much.
They were there for the birth of Bennett.
And then they flew back to Alabama to see her a few months later because they missed her so much.
They flew to to Kansas City to meet Jim's namesake, William Lang Webster.
And Bennett and Will got to make wonderful memories with their Grandfather. I will forever be grateful for these photos.
 Even Lainey got to meet her Grandfather last summer.
 Jim getting a picture with all three of Rob's children. I will always cherish this.

 2 Timothy 4:7
 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.


Donnie Manis said...

What a wonderful tribute, Lauren. I wish I could have known him in this life, I would have been blessed. Thank you for taking the time to share him with the rest of us.

Donnie Manis said...

What a wonderful tribute, Lauren. I wish I could have known him in this life, I would have been blessed. Thank you for taking the time to share him with the rest of us.