Yesterday morning, my Grandfather, Rev. Jack C. Carroll, quietly slipped away. He was completely at peace, confident about his eternal future, and having lived a full and complete life. He was in no pain, and from what the folks who were caring for him said, he simply went to sleep.
But far more interesting and important than how his life ended are the many things that filled it. You see, “Pa-Po” (as my brother and the other grandchildren and I knew him) was a man who experienced much and loved much. And through everything, he was a passionately principled and devoted man who set a very high bar for what real manhood is all about.
Many knew him as the preacher who cared for and spoke into the lives of so many people across Oklahoma, Colorado and — long after “retirement” — Florida. Some knew him as the Pearl Harbor survivor who fought for the Freedoms that were so precious and valuable for him. As a U.S. Marine, he continued his service through the end of World War II, fighting for the all-important islands in the South Pacific that were so crucial to the outcome of the Japanese conflict.
I knew him as the fun, thoughtful, generous, and studious Grandfather who impacted my life in more ways than I can count. On visits to their home as a young boy, I watched the habit of morning prayer that he and my Grandmother (“Mow-Wow” — don’t ask me: my brother named them before I was born) engaged in every single day. They read the Scriptures together and prayed for us — their children, grandchildren, and later great-grandchildren — by name.
With Pa-Po, the Word of God and prayer were not merely the accoutrements of his profession. Of all that I received from him, the legacy of his authentic relationship with God is most significant and meaningful to me. I often think of him and I realize that so many of the blessings in my life today are the fruit of his decades-long, consistent daily walk. First ordained under the Christian & Missionary Alliance, he became a Southern Baptist minister and began pastoring in the 1940s. He moved his young family all over the great state of Oklahoma, pastoring churches in cities like Ada, Shawnee, and ultimately: Blackwell. It’s Blackwell that I appreciate so much because it was there that his daughter, Ann, met my father when they were 14.
From Oklahoma, he and Mow-Wow eventually relocated to Denver, Colorado, where they took up residence in Littleton. Some of my fondest memories from childhood are from visits to their house there, where Pa-Po and I laughed and played Uno® together on the porch. On Sundays, we always were in church, where I heard and watched him preach with passion and conviction — always struggling to help people and impact their lives for eternity.
In January, 1986, my parents and my brother and I made the trek from Houston to Denver to surprise Pa-Po as he “retired.” I remember many things from that trip — notably, that I was in the basement of their home watching TV when Dan Rather interrupted to announce the destruction of the Challenger — but what struck me most was the sheer number of people who expressed such genuine heartfelt gratitude to him for his career serving people. What an impact it had on me to see how he had poured his life out for others.
Of course, for him, “retirement” simply meant giving up his comfortable salary at a decent-sized church so he could continue pastoring smaller ones for nearly 2 more decades. Thankfully, in 1998 he and Mow-Wow moved to Bradenton, Florida where he began pastoring yet again. For him, fruitfulness in life was more important than leisure.
There is much to be said about Pa-Po, and I appreciate the opportunity to be a bit indulgent here as I talk about him. His wife, Erma, along with his 3 children — Ann Johnson, Steve Carroll, and Jane York — and their children and grandchildren all miss him sorely.
A funeral service celebrating the life of Jack C. Carroll will be held on Friday, January 29, 2010 at West Bradenton Baptist Church, 1305 43rd Street West, Bradenton, FL 34209. A public viewing will be held at 10am, with the service beginning at 11am. He will be interred at 2pm at Sarasota National Cemetary.
I miss you, Pa-Po.
Special thanks to Grant Jefferies for taking fabulous photos and generously releasing them to the family. Thanks also to Rachel York for Photoshop help.