Sometimes a life is measured in years, other times in experiences, but what Buck Gruber taught me is that life is measured in relationships. His name wasn't Buck Gruber, of course, (my apologies to any real Buck Grubers out there), his name was Don Schweingruber and he touched my life in a way that few have. Don was the dean of students at my college, but to me, and many like me, he was much more than that. He and his wife Nancy hosted a Christian students group at their home and taught us how to really laugh and love and build relationships. In fact, the name Buck Gruber, if I remember right, (Don't laugh Holly and Kerry about my bad memory of college events!) came from one of those meetings. Don loved questions and he loved nothing more than to sit around the blue sectional couch and build relationships with students by getting to know them in the answers that they gave to those questions. We asked Don about what he wished he could be during one of those question sessions and he jokingly said that he wanted to be a big strong guy with a strong sounding name like Buck Gruber. We laughed, and the name stuck. We didn't always call him Buck, but just about everyone who spent time with Don and Nancy had some kind of inside joke and ours was Buck Gruber. What was no joke though, is that we all loved Buck.
Don's battle with multiple myeloma over the last 15 years changed very little about how he lived. He continued to love and build relationships throughout the entirety of his struggle and in doing so showed hope and love to so many around him. Even being on a different continent didn't keep Don from showing his love to us. He and Nancy, along with two other friends from Bluffton College, even came to visit us, here in Shell, in 2006. The memories we made during that trip have been bitter sweet as I've mourned Don's passing. You see, Don made everyone feel that they were his favorite and the truth is, we all were, because with each encounter with Don you were his favorite person. In that moment, whether you were sitting around the table laughing out loud or crying through a difficult time, Don gave you his all and made you feel loved. There was never a rushed goodbye or a distracted glance at the watch. You always knew where you stood with Don and that's because he always showed the kind of love that Jesus did and that love was unconditional. He loved us all in such a way that each one of us knew, down deep, that we really were his favorite. I want to love like that.
|Don and Nancy 2006 in Baños Ecuador|
|2008- me, Nancy, Don, Kerry, and Holly|
|2008 reunion of the Ecuador "FIESTA" group|
|Don, me, Kerry, and Nancy|
|Don and Nancy took their first selfie with Josiah's selfie stick when we visited in July.|