Friday, June 17, 2005


Three years ago, a great man died. His name was Henry “Buddy” Arnold.

Buddy was the song leader at Otter Creek for 35 years and especially for me, the formative years of my faith. He was a veteran of World War II, one who parachuted into the Philippines and was married to Bernie Wyckoff. He had 4 children, 3 sons and a daughter. He taught at Lipscomb University in the theater department as well.

What strikes me about that listing of his life is that even though it reveals a great deal about him, it doesn’t tell you much about the man. Buddy loved life. He was a man with a generous heart and a kind spirit. He was a touchstone for my life at Otter Creek and one of the big reasons that I came back to that church. He always had time to hug me (even at 22) and always asked about my family who didn’t go there anymore.

When I was baptized at 13, it was touch and go as to whether my dad would be there to do it. So I asked Buddy to step in if Dad couldn’t be there. Dad made it, but I would have been honored to have him do it.

And 9 years ago, when Sheryl and I got married, there was only ever one person I wanted to officiate. And he did. And now I can look back on those pictures and remember the dinners we had at his house with Bernie to talk through the ceremony.

There are so many other stories about him. Him teaching Otter Creek the “Hallelujah Chorus.” One time when he was asked how he felt about new worship styles, he said, “My time is over. It’s time for a new generation to step up.” The grace with which he handled tough situations (as worship items usually are in Churches of Christ).

Buddy was a servant of Jesus. He was a man that exuded grace and love and a sincere heart to worship God.

I was so happy that Buddy got to see Kinsey and know her before his death. I’m sorry that she’s not going to be able to know him, although I know that there will be someone in her life that plays the same role.

I hope it’s me.


Tony Arnold said...

Phil, I have tears in my eyes right now. Always happens when I think about him. I miss him so much. I miss that hug every Sunday. My first Father's Day as a father was his passing away and his funeral. I will never be able to go through Father's Day without reflecting about Buddy and that is very appropriate. What a Dad he was, even to those who weren't his biological children. Below is a Psalm I wrote at his death, because I had no other words for his family. Thanks for your memorial post.

Requiem Psalm (Ode to Bud)
1 O God, it is with selfish sorrow I pray my grief over the death of a man I dearly love.
2 My heart and soul ache that I will not hear his voice or see his face on this earth again.
3 I will shed a tear when I would normally engage in physical embrace. Those hugs have value no material worth can match.
4 My words are deficient and cannot provide comfort. Only You Father can fill the void his family suffers. I pray fervently O Lord that You abide with them.
5 Lord, I lift up a godly man who was filled with the Holy Spirit. A man whose song of soul was rivaled only by his song of voice.
6 A man whose love for his family, physical and spiritual, had no bounds. His gentleness washed over us.
7 A man whose infectious spirit and smile could not be resisted and affected us all. A man whose reverence bolstered our faith.
8 A man who worshipped You God as no one I have known. One who cherished his personal relationship with You.
9 A man who taught me how to walk with You and to talk with You O mighty God. With his ministry, he lifted my head out of the world and into holy worship. He strengthened my soul and enriched my life!
10 A hero to his family, his country, and Your church. A leader of men who did not say, “go forth”, but by example said “follow me.”
11 His spirit, his countenance, and his life truly reflected Your image Father.
Joy and Celebration
12 Mankind suffers at the hands of time, and flesh succumbs to earthly toil. As was written publicly, his body could no longer contain his spirit.
13 Grief and sorrow is ours O Lord, born out of earthly loss. But joy and celebration is Yours, gushing forth from a godly life well lived.
14 Our beloved’s earthly journey is complete. His physical sufferings ended. His soul is free of the shackles by which the human body binds.
15 His soul strolls the splendor of Heaven just as he loved to stroll through Your earthly wonders.
16 His absence will be short Father. For all his family in Christ shall worship with him in Heaven as we did on earth.
17 O Lord, we rejoice that he now sings with the heavenly host he praised ceaselessly his life entire.
18 O great heavenly Father with head weighed down, but heart lifted on high, I pray.
19 The Lord has blessed him and kept him. The Lord’s face shines upon him. Hallelujah, Amen!

Phil said...

Tony, I cried as I wrote this myself.

And thanks for sharing your Psalm as well.

Malia said...

Phil, thanks for taking us down memory lane. I think I will always remember hearing the news that he had died. I was stunned and the tears just began to flow.

Thanks Tony for sharing your Psalm. I too wrote a few verses as David and I sat at his memorial service. I'm not sure that I saved a copy, I gave it to Bernie at the cemetary "graveside" service.

Several months ago I had to call Bernie, she wasn't home and the voice mail picked up. It was the general, "the party you have reached" etc greeting but then the spot where the "party" identifies themself came on and it was Buddy's voice saying "Henry Arnold". I choked up, I had to hang up the phone, compose myself and then call back and leave a message. It had been so long since I'd heard his voice, the one characteristic about him that I will never forget.

judy thomas said...

You are right. He was a great man. I will forever appreciate the grace and love he showed Brandon. Bernie is a great woman too. What a pair!

Clarissa said...

Yes, I remember where I was when I got the news, in my condo in Hermitage, and Carol Lusk was the bearer, bless her heart. What shock to discover how quickly this vibrant an had fallen! I savored that last Father's day with my dad, pretty sure that it would be his last, as I thought of you all remembering Buddy that day at his memorial service.

I still remember, with thankful heart, being involved in the Christmas play with him a few months earlier. The ceremony uniting Mary and Joseph that he presided over was so beautiful, spoken in his rich voice.

Thanks for the post, Phil.

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