The news today is full of consequential stories, as always, but for now none of it seems nearly so important to us as the death of a guy you’ve probably never heard of named Gary Shreck. He was a scholar with a first-rate intellect and an excellent sense of humor, much beloved by his family and the people of Edmond, Oklahoma, but we’re sure he’d want us to emphasize that he was first and foremost an adherent of the Christian faith.
Gary Shreck was one of those straitlaced and monogamous and teetotaling sorts of Christians, but in case you’re put off by that sort of thing you should know that he had an excellent sense of humor about it. He liked to tell the story about the time one of his young children was having teething pains, and a doctor prescribed rubbing whisky on the gums, so he drove to the next town and awkwardly and embarrassingly made his first and only visit to to a liquor store to purchase the elixir. He shared other stories about his piety, including his awkward and embarrassing honeymoon with the only woman he ever loved, but they were always more self-effacing than self-aggrandizing.
Such stories were always humbling for us, as we have to admit that we’ve too often entered a local liquor store to purchase a six-pack of Coors, and have been known to lean on the bar of a disreputable dive or two. As aspiring Christians we console ourselves with the knowledge that Jesus would also hang out with the tax collectors and Roman soldiers and outright whores and other characters considered disreputable by the pious Jews, and that He once changed water into wine to accommodate a proper wedding party. Even in the lowest joints people tend to aspire to higher ground, however, and whenever the subject of religion comes up we always try to put in a pitch for the Christian faith.
In most cases our secular friends are put off by that sort of thing, as they associate Christianity with the stern and anti-intellectual and humorless and judgmental sorts of Christians they’ve endured, It’s hard to argue with that, as we know exactly what they’re talking about, and can well understand why they wouldn’t want to be like those people. We could never offer ourselves as a compelling counter-example, but we could always cite our Mom and Dad and our cousin Claudette Dills and her husband “Cotton’-Pickin'” Dills, and the sweet and always smiling constantly reveling in God’s blessings and never casting-the-first-stone Gary Shreck as better exemplars of the Christian faith.
God blessed Gary Shreck to marry our excellent cousin Paulette Patten and start a family of wonderful children and grandchildren, and we were blessed to serve as the nine-years-old ring-bearers at their wedding. He became a professor at the under-rated Oklahoma Christian University, where one of his students at our under-rated West Douglas Church of Christ still well remembers him as an excellent man, and we’ll always remember him as one of the very best people that God ever blessed us to know, and he always reveled in God’s blessings and dutifully endured whatever tribulations He chose to bring to even His most faithful servants . In his final years on earth Gary Shreck suffered severely from Alzheimer’s disease, but he had his good days and bad days, and we happily recall that on his golden wedding anniversary God granted him one of those good days, when he laughed at our joke that we’d done such a good job as his ring-bearers that his marriage had lasted a full fifty years.
We wish you all best the best in coping with the rest of the day’s news, and hope that God has blessed you with someone like Gary Shreck to help lead you through it.
— Bud Norman