Bob Grebe (pronounced "GREE-bee") fell asleep in Christ on Wednesday afternoon, June 5 at his home in Parrish. He was 85.
Family and friends are gathering for a memorial service for Bob this morning at our church in Lakewood Ranch.
If you know Bob, it may be from the wholesale nursery his family runs, off Golf Course Road.
Bob was instrumental in buying the land and getting our church started 12 years ago, but since then had weakened physically-- not spiritually.
Bob's obituary appeared yesterday in this newspaper. You can find it online, too, but obituaries cannot describe a life in full. There is not enough space her to tell about Bob's volunteer missionary trips to Russia and Thailand, and the multinational Christian volunteer organization he got going.
On Wednesday, Bob just fell asleep in his bed, watching TV. Jeff, the home health care nurse, noticed that Bob wasn't changing channels like he usually did. Then Jeff realized Bob's color did not look good.
When Rhoda, Bob's wife, got the news, characteristically she was at one of our church's ladies' Bible study groups. Bob had not had the best night, and he had needed a pain pill earlier, but nothing had looked unusual when Rhoda had left for the Bible study.
Several friends drove Rhoda back home. At first on the way it was hard for her even to say the news to one of them: Bob was unresponsive. Paramedics were on their way.
Bob and Rhoda had been married 62 years.
Several children and grandchildren were at the house when I got there, along with a sheriff's deputy.
In the bed lay the man who more than anyone else was responsible for leading a mission board to ask my family and me to come to this area from Chicago exactly 12 years ago.
What an energetic guy he had been. What a kid he could be. A perfect man? Hardly. But a baptized man.
Children, are you reading this? Grandchildren and great-granchildren, will you cut this out and save this?
A man who loved you, but more, was Bob: A man who trusted that Jesus, the Lamb of God, had taken away his sin and the sin of the whole world, and wanted the world to know.
Bob had reaffirmed it all just eight days before, when my youngest sons and I had stopped by and I talked with Bob about Jesus, his Savior. I gave Bob and Rhoda holy communion.
Last Tuesday, after praying with Bob, I did what I just about always do. I took his hand, and he looked at me directly.
I said, "The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord look on you with favor, and [tracing a cross on his chest] give you peace. Amen."
Bob said "Amen." As he usually did, he told me he was at peace.
Rest in Jesus' peace, Bob. Rise in his glory.
The Rev. Daniel A. Witte, pastor of Risen Savior Lutheran Church, can be reached at 747-5564. For more information, see www.rsavior.com. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday's Herald, written by local clergy members.