We just got the sad news that the former president of Anderson University passed away this past Saturday evening. Dr. Robert Reardon was the president of AU when Brian and I went there. I remember well how intimidated I was by him. He had that scholarly look about him and carried himself like a real gentleman. Each time I would see him on campus I would feel really, really small and wanted to hide somewhere. It was nothing he did, but all of my own insecurity in the face of "authority".
A few years past, Brian and I married and moved to Lake Charles, LA. We were newly weds and we were poor. We lived in a rented house that was scheduled to be torn down so no repairs or improvements had been made to it for quite a while.
One day Brian came home and announced that Dr. Robert Reardon was going to be visiting our church and that he had invited him over to our house for dinner.
The prospect of entertaining the much revered Dr. Reardon scared the snot out of my immature domestic skills. But come to dinner he did. I served him hamburgers. And I was nervous beyond belief. After I kept calling him Dr. Reardon, he corrected me and told me to call him Uncle Bob. It felt strange calling this man I feared so much by such a familiar name but that was the cool thing about him. He was just an everyday, good guy who loved people and wanted them to be comfortable around him. Before long I felt very much at ease in his presence and by the time he left he was definitely "Uncle Bob" to me and I've always remembered as such.
I've not seen him in years but I know that he will be sorely missed and I feel a loss even though years have separated us.