My family experienced the full spectrum of emotions last week. We started the week celebrating my brother’s wedding, and ended it grieving the death of my father-in-law, Jake Combs, from a sudden and unexpected illness.
Although Jake was 84, he had been in excellent health. He and my mother-in-law, Vera, had expected to travel to the Far East on Thursday, the day he died. His burial was yesterday. We miss him terribly.
If you asked Jake to describe himself, he would say that he was a Christian who loved God and dedicated his life to His service. Jake was an ordained minister, who spent 60 years working with the Navigators, an organization devoted to helping people develop their spiritual lives. Fluent in Chinese, Jake lived overseas for 25 years before moving to Kansas City, where he ministered to Chinese in the area. He never retired because of his passion for his work.
Jake was not only a gentleman, but a gentle man who was devoted to his family. Jake and Vera would have celebrated their 50th anniversary next month. In the twenty-five years I knew him, I never once heard him raise his voice to his wife or children. He always held Vera’s hand, opened every door, and called her “Love.” He delighted in his children and grandchildren, greeting us always with a big, bear hug and a smile.
There are few people more generous with their time and resources than Jake was. Grateful for all the blessings in his life, he wanted to be a blessing to others. He poured his life into building relationships with family, people in his community and all over the world. Jake’s generosity and selflessness enriched the lives of all those who knew him.
Jake leaves behind an amazing legacy of commitment, compassion and generosity. Whenever I thanked Jake for any act of kindness, he always responded by saying, “It’s my privilege.”
In reality, the privilege was all mine.
In Memory of Jake Combs, November 12, 1928 to May 9, 2013.