James H. Huckaby

July 30, 1921 - July 11, 2002

A Tribute by Scott Huckaby

After a long struggle with diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease, my dad died quietly in a hospital where he was admitted 24 hours before with double pneumonia. My dad had been admitted to a nursing home on May 17th following a stroke which rendered him totally dependant. Following his stroke he could not walk or even feed himself without assistance. My mom did a stellar job taking care of him keeping him at home longer than most of us thought she should have. Even before his stroke she had to assist him with using the bathroom and he had not been able to communicate for years. After dad had been admitted to the nursing home mom visited him every day to feed him one of his meals. The fact that my dad lived to almost be 81 years old with his health problems is a result of my mom taking good care of him. Her great fear was that dad would no longer be able to even swallow food which is often the case in the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease. They had already made a decision not to use a feeding tube so mom did not want to see the man she had been married to for 49 years die of starvation so the quickness of my dad’s death was an answer to prayer.

The following was a tribute to my dad I made during his funeral at Marker & Heller Funeral Home in Huber Heights on July 15, 2002. This written version was made from my notes so it covers more than I actually spoke about at the funeral due to my being overcome with emotion...

I want to thank everyone for coming. The support of our family and friends has been a great encouragement to my mom, brother and I during this time. I want to share a couple of thoughts with you about my dad but first read a passage of Scripture that has been a great comfort to me as I think about his passing...

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 - But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

I will miss my dad. I have been missing him because I have not been able to have a meaningful two-way conversation with him for years due to his condition. But I know I will be able to talk with him again when we have our permanent, glorified, resurrected bodies, the same as Jesus Christ has right now. Jesus is the furstfruits of the resurrection.

I will miss my dad but until I see him again, I will rejoice in his memory and the foundation he laid for my life. God has blessed me greatly in my life and giving me the dad He did was a significant part of that blessing.

I know that my dad trusted in Jesus Christ as his personal Savior because of the way he lived his life. Dad patterned his life after our Heavenly Father. This pattern dad modeled in his life helped me to better know our Heavenly Father...

Like my Heavenly Father, my earthly father was a creator... As the Lord built our world, dad built the house I lived in growing up. Not only was dad a party to bringing me into the world, he like our Heavenly Father worked at sustaining creation maintaining the house he built. God delighted in His creation and dad also delighted in building a family, an Air Force career, a house, and in his woodworking hobby. My Heavenly Father provides for my needs and my dad was God's agent on earth who provided for me. The legacy of my dad's provision lives on in support of my mom. Applying dad's work ethic to my own life has served me well.

God is the source of all wisdom. And this characteristic was a dominant trait of my dad as well. My dad was a good decision maker and his counsel was always right on. Wisdom is applied knowledge and my dad always pursued greater knowledge, especially with regards to science and technology. He encouraged my brother and I to do the same. Science began in Western Civilization as Christians sought to better understand the Creator by studying the creation. So if properly motivated, science is worship of God and technology is His gift to mankind. Clark and I looked forward to receiving a Heathkit at Christmas and we'd both have our kit built by New Years. When I was in college studying freshman engineering, dad bought one of the first TI scientific calculators that he gave to me when I told him other students were using them instead of slide rules. In fact, that quarter was the last time the University of Cincinnati offered a class on slide rules in the College of Engineering. Dad's love for technology rubbed off on me and this has also served me well in my life.

I enjoyed conversations with my dad because I always learned something useful and interesting. Dad was witty and had a good sense of humor, he was always quick with an "appropriate" pun. Clark reminded me of a time when dad told about a trip he made to the barber shop... As you know, us Huckaby men are folliclly challenged. I always thought my dad should get a discount from the barber since he had less hair to cut. Anyway, on one occasion, dad told us about asking his barber if he knew anything he could use to keep from losing his hair. The barber said he had just the thing, went into the back room and came out with a shoe box. My dad liked to hear people laugh, as my heavenly Father wants us to experience joy in our lives.

God personifies love and this was another key trait of my dad. He demonstrated his love of my mom, brother, and me in the many daily self-sacrifices he made on our behalf. This showed me what true godly love is all about. Like my heavenly Father, dad pursued a relationship with me. Dad invested time in our family which is a rare thing in our busy world today. Dad was always interested in what I was interested in and he helped and encouraged me. For example, I recall when I was in a model airplane phase as a kid and made a mistake in assembling one, dad quietly corrected my error. When I decided to go into the rabbit raising business, dad provided the shed space and built the hutches I needed. In college when I decided I needed to put a V-8 engine in a 1954 Willis Jeep, dad was my primary technical consultant and he helped fabricate the parts I needed to complete the project. When my muffler fell out of my '68 Ford coming home from the University of Cincinnati one weekend before mid-terms, dad spent his Saturday under my car putting in a new exhaust system while I studied. I could go on and on. Dad showed that he loved me by what he did.

There are many other characteristics of God that I could talk about but just let me sum them up by saying as our heavenly Father is good, my dad was also a good dad. Dad exhibited all the fruits of the Spirit in his life: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

I know that I am very fortunate to have had the dad that I had. My heart goes out to those whose earthly father gave them a flawed view of our heavenly Father. And my heart goes out to those who don't know the Lord, those who have subscribed to the world's lie and do not have assurance of the certainty of life after death if you trust in Jesus. My dad was a mighty man but my heavenly Father is Almighty and He said that whoever believes in Jesus should not perish but have everlasting life. My dad believed this and was saved, and I also believe this.

I'd like to close with a prayer...

Heavenly Father, thanks for giving me a godly dad, one who helped me to know you by the testimony of his life. And thanks for all the family and friends that have been such an encouragement to mom, Clark and me. But most of all Lord, thank You for making it possible to spend eternity with You and my dad.  

Lord, I know there are those here who have not embraced the the truth of life after death that Jesus demonstrated by His resurrection. Lord, I pray that every one of them would come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ before it is too late. Please help them see that all people fall short of your glory but that Jesus paid the penalty for their sins by His death on the cross if they trust in Him. Help them to believe that Jesus' resurrection proved who He is and that what He told us is true. Lord, even now as people hear this prayer, let someone yield their life to Jesus and put their trust in Him for salvation as my Dad did.

All these things I ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.