Community turns out for final tribute to former beloved mayor

Authored by Jim Langham on May 10, 2010

Former Berne Mayor Richard Lehman might have been a tad uncomfortable with all of the recognition given at his memorial service at First Mennonite Church on Friday morning.
Lehman, described by many as a quiet, behind-the-scenes, humble, but confident person, took the forefront at Friday’s service as friends, clergy, and family members, sought to pay tribute to a beloved government leader, friend, and family member.
“He was an businessman known for honesty and fair value,” said Pastor Jerry Flueckiger, in paying tribute to Lehman’s legacy.
“He was a community leader, good friend, and an encourager in so many ways,” continued Flueckiger. “His family was his priority, whether he was taking his grandchildren on a ride or simply being present to listen.”
The large crowd of those attending the funeral had a good chuckle when Flueckiger referred to a comment made by Lehman’s wife, Colleen, at visitation on Thursday.
“When I spoke to her about being married to Dick for 64 years, she replied, ‘We were young, dumb, and in love, and that was enough.’”
Prior to Flueckiger’s message, a service laden with music, poetry, and family reflections presented tributes to Lehman with the same kindness and balance with which he lived his life.
“Oh seek that beautiful’s waters so free, are fully for thee,” sang musicians Byron Fox and Fred Stauffer, reminding many of Lehman’s love for music through the Mennonite music programs.
Grandchildren listed attributes they admired in their grandfather and Rio DeSanto listed numerous of Lehman’s favorite verses of wisdom from the Book of Proverbs.
Brandon Steury read a poem entitled, “Grandpa’s Poem,” and daughters Linda, Janice, and Dawn, stood arm in arm to share a special tribute to their beloved father.
Lehman, who was born on May 2, 1926, passed one day before his 84th birthday.
“Richard gave his life to the Lord and accepted Him as Savior at an early age and his desire was to serve the Lord to the end,” stated a tribute written on the memorial bulletin.
A statement signed by Lehman noted, “Grandpa loved all of them dearly (grandchildren and family), and his desire and wish is that the entire family know Christ and accept him as Savior.” The statement was followed by a personal signature from Lehman.
Flueckiger referred to the fact that Lehman had been stricken with polio as a young man and had suffered various physical maladies as perhaps an unusual testimony to God’s ultimate healing in his life.
In referring to Matthew 9:1-8, the story of Jesus’ healing of a man sick with palsy, Flueckiger noted several types of possible healing scenarios, including the body’s ability for spontaneous healing, healing assisted by physician’s care, and healing that many would refer to as miraculous healing.
“Dick experienced enough healing to live to one day short of 84 years of age,” said Flueckiger. “Nothing in God’s creation, including man, lives forever. How often we forget that those people who Jesus healed in His ministry on earth eventually died.”
Flueckiger emphasized that there is more to the Biblical text than the fact that Jesus said, “rise up and walk.”
“He said, ‘your sins are forgiven,’” continued Flueckiger. “Physical healing is not the only kind of healing God does for us. He also does spiritual healing.
“The Babe in the manger and the gifts of the wise men are not the real story,” Flueckiger said. “That tiny babe grew up to teach, heal, and to die for all of our sins. Jesus didn’t do funerals, he did resurrections. He died to defeat death and bring Heaven to us.”
Flueckiger said that physical healing leads to extended time on earth, but spiritual healing leads to endless time with God. Physical healing is temporary, but spiritual healing is forever.
“The word salvation comes from the word, ‘salve,’ which means that salvation is God’s healing ointment for us,” emphasized Flueckiger. “Salvation comes to us through Christ’s death and resurrection. At the time of a funeral, we gather to celebrate God’s healing from sin through our Lord Jesus Christ.
“The ultimate question at this point is, ‘what will I do with Christ in my life,’” said Flueckiger.


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