Gerry Winebrenner was my best friend. We vacationed together, took trips, haunted Half-Priced books together, showed off our reformed book acquisitions and searched for THE tastiest beer.
Gerry was a non-conformist and consequently a puzzle to many. He didn't watch television at all and could only name shows that he heard the less erudite fellows discussing with irritating and prurient excitement. Gerry's response was to turn off his hearing aids and read the puritan tome he had downloaded to his PDA. His PDA was ever present in his shirt pocket in case he needed a Bible verse or reference or the relative magnitude of a star. Once, on a trip, he figured out where we were by the angle and position of the sun. You see even the smallest detail reveals so much about Gerry because nothing was left to accident.
Take the PDA, he only wore shirts that had a front pocket for his pda. We were given the opportunity to order shirts with our Church name on it. Gerry raised his hand and asked if the shirt had a front pocket. The answer was 'no' and so Gerry didn't order a shirt - it was a simple matter of boolean logic for him. If the pocket = 0, then 'the placement of the order' is a null set. That is how Gerry thought. He knew what he liked and what he didn't like and it was all algebra and calculus. Gerry was a geek's geek. His passwords were uncrackable yet memorized - he knew pi to around 20 places.
Consider a previous post of his as an example of what I'm speaking of:
or his very last post on the PB in which he quoted from The Journal of Irreproducible Results, vol. 20, #3, March 1974, pages 22-23. Where did he find that and why?And God said:
∇ • E = ρ / εo
∇ • B = 0
∇ x E = - ∂B/∂t
∇ x B = μoJ + μoεo∂E/∂t
And it was so.
Rev 21:23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.
Rev 21:24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it,
Rev 21:25 and its gates will never be shut by day--and there will be no night there.
He didn't view the world as most of us see it.
Gerry didn't hear the world as most of us hear it either. Gerry was deaf. With super powered hearing aids he was able to hear certain frequencies and with his ability to read lips he could follow a conversation extremely well. He worked incredibly hard on pronouncing words. If he encountered a word he was unsure of he would ask someone to repeat it and he would watch their lips closely, then he would repeat it and ask for feedback until he spoke the word perfectly. Most folks would never guess he couldn't hear. The amazing thing is, in spite of what should have made conversation a struggle, Gerry could and did start up a conversation with anyone. Even though his years as a youth were filled with ridicule because of his disability, he made strangers feel accepted and cared about.
He was a sprout farmer. There was always a crop of sprouts growing in his front window. Everyday he would take a sprout sandwich with him to General Motors where he worked as an electrician. Yesterday, as Deb and the boys were trying to decide on a floral arrangement to go on top of the casket, poor exhausted Deb said, "Bob, what do you think?" I had to laugh as I looked at the pictures of pretty flowers. "I've been wracking my brain trying to remember any conversations about flowers that we might have had," I answered, "Gerry fought the norm, he would have wanted SPROUTS on his casket." He was into health. He exercised and ate whole grains. (Deb makes all their breads.) He wouldn't take an aspirin, he drank pure water, he avoided sunlight and always put safety first. When I heard that speed was a factor in the car crash I knew a few things were certain - that Gerry would have had his seat belt on, was fully attentive to his driving and well under the speed limit. We knew that if speed was a factor then it was the other guy who was reckless. The coroner confirmed by investigation what we all knew through intimacy with our practical Gerry.
Needless to say, it's impossible to capture a lifetime in these few lines. I just wanted to reveal some of the things that made Gerry unique and special as a friend. His most important attribute came up yesterday as we were trying to select a verse to sit opposite his obituary on the program for the funeral. The booklet of samples had about 75 trite, sentimental and generic verses about memories of our dear friend and love is like a dove and whatever. Mutual friend and pastor, David King, said that he could come up with much better verses if Deb would like. Again Deb turned to me and asked if I had an opinion. I told her that Gerry would not like any of these, nor would he like words that said how wonderful he was. "If it's not Christ honoring, then Gerry wouldn't like it." Pastor David opened his Bible and read the passages that will be listed in the program.
So this is the legacy Gerry leaves us: know what you like and what you don't like but in both of these choices, honor God and his Son Jesus Christ. If Gerry could speak now, those who knew and love Gerry can easily imagine that his words would mirror the sentiments of the Apostle Paul when he said -1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1Corinthians 15:20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7-11
Gerald E. Winebrenner 1952-2007