Fare thee well brother Don

December 15, 2007 from Skip | The Whole Story| 7 Comments | ««Previous - Next»»

Some 800-900 friends and family laughed, cried, and reminisced together at the memorial service on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2007 at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle. Don’s life was celebrated in music, pictures, anecdotes, and a memorable homily from Darrell Johnson.

It was Darrell’s sermon on December 20, 1992 that God used to grab Don’s heart and begin the remaking of the man. So it was fitting that Darrell led us in remembering Don, and in reminding us, Don is gone. But Don is not dead.

We will have a text copy of Darrell’s homily posted on this blog in the next few days. We are also working on getting either the video of the entire service, or segments of the service, on the blog. Stay with us.

Heather and I have discussed where we go with this blog. Our thought right now is to keep it going for a little while longer, and then bring it to a close some time. We are exploring the best way to print the entire blog when we do shut it down, and to present it to Heather, Johnny & Bo. Don had always wanted to write a book that put into printed words all that a father would want to say to his sons. Through this blog, he did exactly that.

The blog also made possible the addition of an entirely different and wonderfully rich dimension which I don’t think Don fully anticipated the posted responses from all of you, coming from all parts of the country, and even from abroad. Most of you posted messages of encouragement and affection to Don. As Don slipped away, some of you began to write to Heather and the boys as well.

We now invite all of you to post messages, poetry, songs, quotations to Heather, Johnny and Bo before we bring the blog to a close. Your posts will be the epilogue of Don’s book.

To those of you who might need assistance with posting on the blog, James Snook, Don’s long time friend who designed and created the blog site stands ready to help you. Either send an email to James at james@voyage.com or CDL@elmlaw.com and we’ll get your messages posted.

Skip, for Heather, Johnny, Bo

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7 Comments so far

  1. Emily Wilson on December 15, 2007 6:12 pm

    OH, WHAT a touching tribute to a man who lived life to the fullest, and even beyond! A commemorative Blog/Web site Book-in bound copy-yet another nice way to honor his presence both past and future! Heather, Bo and Johnny + the “Brothers” – you are really the spiritual caretakers of his “living” memory. Thank you for the wonderful memorial you all put together-it resonated oh, so true!
    Sincerely EMily M Wilson

  2. Polly Urquhart on December 15, 2007 8:46 pm

    Skip and Heather, I am so excited to know I will get to participate in Don’s memorial after all. I was so sad that we missed it by 5 days. We arrive in Seattle Dec. 18th. To have it on this blog will be so wonderful. And I am so grateful that it will be here for awhile because I want to go back to the beginning and treasusre the time. Thank you so much for the time given to this for all of us to remain a part as we process, too. Heather, Bo and Johnny and all who were so close to Don….I ache with and for you as we wait for the pain to lessen.

    With love,

  3. Mich on December 16, 2007 11:31 am

    I’ve been reading Don’s blog since late August and, though I am a complete stranger, have been deeply impacted and encouraged by his words. Wow. What an incredible legacy he has left you, having focused on those unseen things that count the most. I am saddened to hear of his passing.

    My prayers continue to be with you, his family and friends, as they have been since August. The phrase Dancing on the Edge of Heaven is one that brings such hope and lightness, an absolutely beautiful image that, in my mind, is forever linked to the name Don Valencia.

    God bless,

  4. allisonmarquez on December 16, 2007 4:23 pm

    I never knew Don, I didn’t even get the chance to go to his memorial service.

    How am I involved, you ask?

    Well, myself and a few friends went on a mission’s trip to Mexico this past summer. We are all older than Johnny and Bo but, by the end of our short week we each grew a spot in our hearts for them. After the trip was over and my friends and I were discussing the highlights, Johnny and Bo were one of the first topics. Personally, I was simply astounded by these amazing teenagers. When I was their age, I was no where near where they are now. Johnny and Bo are, even at their young age, men of God, incredible servants, intelligent, hilarious, talented, genuine, and all around amazing. One morning Johnny was doing his devotions and, I remember, he asked me a question that was so theologically advanced I felt inadequate to answer. The whole trip Bo was up for anything, including Uno, with this undeniable joy.

    All of this to say, people like Johnny and Bo do not turn out like they are from thin air. People have poured into them, people have prayed and cried over them, people like Don and Heather have obviously done an incredible job raising their children.

    I wish I had known Don. So many people love him, and if Johnny and Bo are a reflection of their father, I can only imagine how great Don must have been.

    My prayers are with you always.

    Allison Marquez

  5. Gary on December 16, 2007 10:47 pm

    A Note to My Brother in Heaven

    I still see your smile,
    your fingers paused
    on your beloved Mac
    as you look up from your bed.
    Yellow eyes shine,
    delighted, but distracted,
    your videoblog not quite complete.

    I sit and watch and wait.
    Staff and visitors
    enter your room,
    each greeted by that smile,
    genuine and giving,
    which clearly shines
    from your heart.

    A special moment surprises
    when the man in the white coat
    suggests we surround you and pray.
    Holding hands around your bed
    a gentle man utters humble words
    as we go together before the throne
    to seek His goodness, healing, and grace.

    Visitors and staff are gone
    and now we can share some time.
    I hear the news of the battle,
    the radiation, chemo, and more.
    Then as we chat I notice
    how deftly you shift the focus
    from the trials of treatment and tubes
    to talk of my life, my family, and work.

    This is the Don I know,
    who would give your heart away
    through whom the Spirit soared.
    Lives touched, hearts changed.
    Life lessons lived out,
    the fruit of failure
    and the evidence of epiphanies.

    And if we could sit and talk and laugh
    about life, love, and Lord,
    I would ask you now, how you found
    the courage, strength, and grace
    to close the posts upon your blog
    with these simple, troubling words:
    God is good, all the time. God is good.

    You are missed by so many, Don.
    Until we meet again, my friend.

  6. Mike Yukevich on December 17, 2007 1:48 am

    Dear Heather, Johnny and Bo,

    It was truly a wonderful memorial service. While we knew Don made an impact on so many lives – it was amazing to experience the overwhelming love and affection within that church. Ever since that first trip to Guatemala in 1998 with Don, Skip & Mike – I knew Don was a great man. He will continue to influence so many of us on into the future.

    Your family is in our prayers!

    Mike & Kelly Yukevich

  7. karen johnson on December 20, 2007 10:47 am

    Dear Heather, Johnny and Bo,

    I have been incredibly blessed by Don’s service, and by his transparency in this blog over the last year. I think of you often, and pray for God’s amazing peace to filter into every aspect of your days, even as you grieve.

    lI continue to have this wonderful moment
    “freeze framed” in my mind- that of you Heather, and Don, dancing at the Washington Weekend in Oct. of 2006. I remember standing there realizing what a precious moment that was…and so as I often do, I snapped a picture. And then another one when you collapsed in his lap, laughing. I smile as I remember that, and as I continue to picture Don, laughing…and dancing.

    But my heart aches for you- for the hole that is left in your lives, even though you have the wonderful confidence of his dancing in heaven and the knowledge that you will do that with him there one day.

    I know that God
    is always faithful,
    always good.

    I pray He fills your hearts,
    with peace,
    with joy,
    with comfort.

    Peace beyond understanding,
    Joy of infinate depth,
    Comfort which only His arms can bring.

    For now we see but in a mirror dimly,
    but then we shall see face to face.
    Now we know in part,
    but then we shall understand fully,
    even as we are understood.

    Isn’t it good to knwo that HE knows us better than we know ourselves? He knows your greif,a nd understands every bit of it- all the questions, the mixed emotions…

    He knows and understand it all.

    I pray He sustains and encourages you in the days and weeks ahead, in miraculous ways…

    and my love and prayers are with you,

    Karen Johnson

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