A Life Unparalled
A Tribute to Edward F. Cross
On October 12, 2002, family, friends and former colleagues of Edward F. Cross gathered at the Walla Walla College Church to remember the remarkable man who founded the colleges School of Engineering. Both in his professional and personal life, he made a difference in the lives of many who had the privilege of knowing him.
TRANSCRIPT OF FUNERAL SERVICE
FOR EDWARD F. CROSS
Welcome and Invocation: Walt Meske
Life Sketch: Rod Heisler
Life Sketch: Carlton Cross
Part II: His Last Days.
Part III: Lessons learned.
Part IV: The Epilogue
Scripture: Robert Wood
Homily: Darold Bigger
Remembrances: Norman Karlow
Remembrances: Marvin Karlow
Remembrances: read by Tom Thompson and Helen Zolber
Benediction: Darold Bigger
and Invocation: Walt Meske
This sanctuary is filled today with people that have been influenced by the humility, the kindness, wisdom, and the Christian leadership of "Prof" Cross. And Im thankful to be one of those people. The family is grateful that you have come.
When I first came on campus, my very first encounter with a faculty member was Prof Cross. It happened to be a weekend I dropped in on his Sabbath School class. It was his genuine friendliness, and at that time, to me, that made me love him and care for him, and has nurtured a relationship between us through these years.
Weve all known him as a friend, as a mentor, husband, father, teacher, and a pioneer in education for 55 years, one half of the life of Walla Walla College. Whenever anyone would mention his accomplishments, he gave God the credit. He would say, "God led. It was the only way it could have happened."
Today, as we begin this service, let us pray. Father, we have gathered in this sanctuary to be in your presence, as we remember the life of Prof Cross. A life dedicated to your leading, resulting in great accomplishments, which he credited to your guidance, fulfilling the instruction of scripture when it said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Today as we get a glimpse of Profs life, may we too, direct our praise to you, oh God, for his accomplishments, and may each of us be determined to permit your spirit to lead us in our lives, that we too might bring glory to our father who is in heaven.
Father we now ask for your comfort for each of us. In a special way may Marilyn, and Carlton, and their families, sense your presence. May they have your comfort, and experience your peace, I pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.
Sketch: Rod Heisler
Edward Fulton Cross was born November 16, 1908 in Brooklyn, New York, to Margaretta Gobo Cross. His father Edward Fulton Cross, Sr., had died three months earlier. To support her family, Margaretta continued working at the fish store that she and her husband had run while Edwards teenage sister, Edna, cared for him. Several years later, Margaretta married Francis Berdet Williams, a tugboat captain in New York Harbor, who became a much-loved father to Edward.
Edward grew up in New York City, but spent childhood summers in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, his mothers family home near the Atlantic Ocean. His education started early in New York Citys public school system, and continued through graduation from a technical curriculum at Stuyvesant High School.
While in junior high, Edward was asked to tutor a classmate in math. The classmate, Charles Wicheby, learned algebra and became a lifelong friend. Charles younger sister, Helen, ultimately became Edwards beloved wife of almost 60 years.
When Edward applied for admission to Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey to study engineering, the dean offered the 15-year-old applicant this advice: "Son, the freshman year at Stevens is rigorous. I think you would be wiser to wait a year, find a job, and come back later after youve had that kind of experience."
And so he worked for Consolidated Edison of New York for a year and enrolled at Stevens in the fall of 1925. As a student at Stevens, Edward was inducted into the national engineering honors society, Tao Beta Pi. He graduated in June of 1929 with the degree mechanical engineer.
His response when offered the opportunity to become an assistant to a professor of civil engineering at Stevens was, "I wouldnt teach for $50 a day." Instead, Edward went to work as a cadet engineer with Columbia Gas and Electric in Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio. His salary was to be $125 a month for a period of three years.
While working in Ohio, Edward wrote daily letters to Helen. Much of the correspondence developed into an ongoing Bible study and focused on the differences between Edwards Baptist view of Daniel and Revelation, and Helens Adventist understanding of the books.
Edward refused to read the Adventist book, "The Great Controversy," which Helen sent to him, but he did find observations upon the prophesies of Daniel by Isaac Newton in the public library. With Newtons book and a Bible as his source materials, Edward carefully analyzed the first chapters of Daniel and then discovered that his conclusions agreed with those of early Adventists.
When Edward became convinced that Saturday was the Sabbath, he requested a work schedule that did not include Saturday, and consequently lost his job. It was late 1931 or early 1932 and the Great Depression was in progress, so Edward accepted his parents gracious invitation to return to their home in New York.
About this time, Helen accepted Edwards marriage proposal,
but they didnt set a wedding date because of his uncertain employment
In November 1932, Edward was baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist at the City Temple Church in New York where he and Helen led the junior missionary volunteer society. Edward worked for a time as a construction superintendent for a company owned by a Jewish man who respected his Sabbathkeeping.
But Helen was convinced Edward was a born teacher, and after a while she persuaded him to take the New York City teacher-in-training examination. Twelve hundred took the exam. Eight passed. Edward did so, with half a point to spare. In a second exam for prospective junior high school mathematics and science teachers, only 50 out of 450 passed. In spite of having had a migraine headache that impaired his vision, prevented concentration, and killed any impression of what questions had been asked, or how he might have answered them, Edward was one of the 50 who passed. He knew he had passed only because of Gods help and took that as a sign that there was a good reason for him to become a teacher.
When Edward passed the teacher-in-training exams and was granted a license to start teaching in September of 1935, he and Helen finally set a wedding date. On June 30, 1935, they were the first couple to be married in the City Temple church in five years. For several years, Edward taught junior high school math and science in the New York City public school system, where he participated in an excellent teacher-in-training program.
In 1940, he transferred to a technical high school in mid-town
Manhattan with about 3,500 students. Edward and Helen happily welcomed a daughter,
Marilyn Edna, into their family in January of 1941, but they also were struggling
to cope with the increasing tension and lifestyle
restrictions resulting from World War II.
Two war-related events particularly affected them. Edwards close friend, and Helens brother, Charles Wicheby and his wife and two daughters, who were serving as missionaries in China, were captured by the Japanese and interned in the Philippines.
In the spring of 1944, Edward received a notice from his draft
board to report for a pre-induction physical exam. Because of his severe migraine
headaches, he was classified 4-F which exempted him from active duty, but
his work load was increased by being asked to teach some evening mechanical
drafting classes at the YMCA to help train wartime personnel.
Carlton Edward filled the order for a blue-eyed, blond-haired, baby boy when he arrived in April of 1944, and the Cross family was complete. However, when Helen was admitted to the hospital for Carltons birth, and Marilyn was with Grandma Wicheby, Edward found himself at home alone and exhausted and he collapsed.
The cumulative effect of the stress hed been living with resulted in a nervous breakdown. It was Friday. By Monday, close family and church friends determined that no suitable medical care was available in New York City, so they arranged for him to be admitted to Washington Sanitarium and Hospital. They pooled their gas ration coupons and drove him to Washington, D.C.
After two months of the best therapy available at that time, Edward returned home. However, he was afraid to ride the subway, did not feel safe driving his car, and had many other anxieties. Physicians in Washington had advised digging in the dirt as therapy, and so church friends invited the Cross family to stay in a little cabin on their property on Long Island for the summer.
Edward learned how to tend the large garden there, and gradually the outdoor activity, quiet country environment and association with good friends contributed to improved health.
For about ten days that summer of 1944, Ernest Booth, a biology professor at Walla Walla College and his wife, needed a place to stay in New York City while Ernest did some research for his doctoral dissertation. Through a mutual friend, it was arranged for the Booths to stay at the Crosss unoccupied apartment in the city.
There was no plan for the two families to meet, but when Marilyn developed a 104-degree fever and no doctor on Long Island would agree to see her, Edward and Helen drove back to the city to take her to their regular pediatrician.
Marilyns fever broke almost as soon as the family got
back to their apartment, but the brief meeting between the Booths and
the Crosss that day was pivotal in their lives. Ernest Booth learned
that Edward Cross was a well-educated SDA engineer with teaching experience,
and Edward learned that President George Bowers and Dr. George Kretschmar,
chairman of the physics department at Walla Walla College, were thinking about
starting a professional engineering program.
At that time, Edward stated that he was not interested in teaching for the denomination. He felt that he could make a much greater contribution to the church by continuing his career in the New York City school system and leading out in the small church that he and Helen had helped to establish.
Nevertheless, periodic personal and written contacts continued to occur between representatives of Walla Walla College and the Crosss. In the spring of 1947, President Bowers sent a letter inviting Edward to join the faculty of the college for the purpose of starting an engineering program.
Together, Edward and Helen wrestled with numerous questions about the letter from Dr. Bowers, and their apprehension about leaving their extended family, and everything else that was familiar to them in New York. They wrote to respected friends across the country and waited for their response.
Finally, Edwards conviction that God was calling him to Walla Walla College became overpowering. On a Saturday night he telephoned Dr. Bowers and they discussed many questions. Before concluding the conversation Edward agreed to accept the call to WWC.
Unbeknown to the Crosss, long-distance telephone operators went on strike at midnight that Saturday, and soon, in one days mail, replies arrived from friends, whether the postmark was Washington, D.C. or California, each one encouraged them to go to Walla Walla College.
This was the beginning of a literal journey of faith. For people who had not traveled further west than Ohio or the mountains of West Virginia, traversing the Rocky Mountains, was nothing short of terrifying. And their vision of living near evergreen forests and snowcapped mountains faded rapidly as they drove west and south from Coeur dAlene.
It was the middle of August. Recently harvested wheat fields were dry and dusty, and they didnt know that Adventist college campuses turn into deserted villages at noon on Friday. But Edward had accepted a call from the Lord. Not a job. And so the family began adjusting to a completely new way of life.
Classes began September 25, with Edward Cross and Vernon Von Pollie as the engineering faculty and 26 students, many of whom were World War II veterans with families, declared engineering to be their major. By 1952, the department had 13 alumni.
For 27 years, from 1947 until 1974, Prof Cross chaired the Department of Engineering. Between 1947 and the mid-60s, along with other faculty, other engineering faculty, and students, he participated in the design, remodel, and/or expansion of 13 campus buildings.
The year 1971 marked the achievement of a long term personal and professional goal, when the Engineers Council for Professional Development (ECPD), now the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (or ABET), granted the department accreditation.
Prof stepped down from administration in 1974, and taught full-time until 1979. Thereafter, he did some part time teaching and lecturing. In 1974, the Department of Engineering became a school and he was designated "Dean Emeritus" and the college awarded him an honorary doctorate. In 1991, WWC named the School of Engineering in his honor.
Prof was a registered professional engineer in Washington and Oregon. In 1995, the Washington Society of Professional Engineers, recognized his contributions to the state by giving him the Columbia Award, the organizations most prestigious honor.
Involvement in the local community included serving College Place as city engineer and city councilman, being a member of the Walla Walla Valley Transit Board, leading the Community Chest (now United Way Campaign for College Place), and membership in the College Place Kiwanis Club for as long as it existed. He was a charter member of the Walla Walla College Seventh-day Adventist Church, where he served as elder and board member for many years, and attended faithfully until just the last couple of months.
Daughter Marilyn, who wrote this life sketch, concludes with a personal story. As communication with my father became more and more limited, he could still understand when I told him I loved him, and frequently our telephone conversations would end by his saying, "Good night. Sleep Tight. And wake up happy in the morning. A little girl used to say that to me." I know hell be happy when he wakes up on resurrection morning, and mother will be by his side.
Sketch: Carlton Cross
My Father has set an example of old age that I hope to copy. Although he often said, "Old age is not kind," he never became stubborn or resistant to the changes that had to be accepted. He gave me complete access to all of his affairs, and legal authority for everything that could possibly need to be done. Long ago, everything was in order. I am honored to have learned from the gracefulness of his example.
Many of you have expressed great respect and admiration for my father, but he would tell you, "Give glory to God." All he did was to do what God showed him to do.
He would tell you that others did more than he did. He would name the names of the first students who came to an engineering program that did not yet have a reputation. He was grateful for their hard work, the work of each student that they did to make the program a success. And I can tell you that he considered all of the engineering graduates to be the reason for his success. He was honored that you came, and it was a privilege for him to be your teacher.
He would also tell you that Gods plans were much bigger than his own imagination. I think he was quite right.
How do we understand this man, and what he has done? The life sketch is full of facts, but what is behind the facts?
I have never been able to explain my father without thinking about my mother. In fact my sister and I could never conceive that he would live these seven years alone.
Although he did not decline as we expected, he did withdraw. Mother was the one who stirred up his thinking, the one who convinced him to take a risk. She found the house on fourth street and persuaded him to buy it. She initiated the social contacts and the political connections, eventually convincing him to run for a city council position. Shes the one who kept the house lively with ideas, both practical and wacky.
Father was not a self-starter. He was often unsure of what he could do, or should do. He suffered from the lingering effects of his nervous breakdown, which we would now describe as a panic attack.
It was the thick of World War II. He was overworking. His wife was pregnant. One night he hyper-ventilated, collapsed, and feared that he might die. The traumatic experience, rattled his self-confidence, left him prone to anxiety.
He really was an unlikely person to boldly come west to a place unknown, to an unknown task. But there is a holy irony promised in the scripture: "All things work together for good to them that love the Lord, to them who are called according to His purpose."
The irony is, that at the same time that he became more anxious
about little things, he also learned to better trust God for the big things.
We sometimes saw amazing examples of this ironic behavior. At one time, when he was ready to leave for important engineering meetings, he got to the door and couldnt keep going. Mother boosted his confidence a bit, and pushed him physically on his way.
It got easier after that, but when he faced a lung surgery with no more than a 50-50 chance of survival, his confidence was solid as he went into surgery calmly, and mother used to be exasperated by that.
So it was that they worked together. Mother built up his confidence, and produced more than her share of the ideas. Father brooded over what might be done while he sorted through the ideas. Finally, her persistent enthusiasm would get him to settle on at least one good idea.
We often enjoyed the benefits of my fathers common judgment, occasionally it came in handy even at the supper table. You see, mother was a Depression-era, German homemaker. That meant you never threw out anything that was perfectly good food.
I remember a few times when we would protest that something tasted funny, and mother would say quickly, "Its perfectly good. Go ahead and eat it." And we would fuss more, and ask father for his opinion. He would take a small taste, and, at least a few times, occasionally, he said, "Helen, I think we better find something else."
II: His Last Days.
Most of us think of death as an event. That was my mothers experience. She left the house giving instructions about what she wanted at the hospital, but ten minutes later, she could not talk as she got to the emergency room, her heart stopped and she died in a hurry, just as she was born and lived. Those of you who knew her are probably not surprised.
My fathers death has been a process of many months. Each month he walked more slowly, and bent a little further. Then he walked only with assistance. Then he was confined to a wheelchair or a bed, and finally, he was confined only to the bed.
In the last few weeks, his vital organs kept working, like a
well-engineered system. Not one was ready to give up. I could almost hear
the kidneys saying, "Keep going, keep going. Im not
going to quit."
His approach to death has been just as methodical as his life. Those of you who knew him well, are probably not surprised.
I cant tell you when he died. Was it when I started handling
all of his medications, when he could no longer pay his bills, when I first
pushed him in a wheelchair, or lifted him out of bed, or when I first fed
him at the table, or was it just two weeks ago, when he stopped breathing?
What I can tell you is that he died at peace with God and with himself. The most important part of his life work has been the work that God gave him to do. As he put it: "This was not a job. It was a call from the Lord."
His calling to teach never weakened, even as his body failed. At one point when he was exasperated with some of the necessary bed care procedures he reprimanded one of his caregivers as follows: "You are dismissed from my classroom."
First, when God shows you a work that needs to be done, and you know that youre qualified to do it, there is nothing better than choosing to do it. As the scripture says, "Whatever your hand findeth to do, do it with your might."
This was very clear in his life. When my father first agreed to join the college faculty, President Bowers asked about making an exploratory visit. The answer was simple, "No, it wouldnt make any difference. We have decided to come."
Second, when God shows you that something is possible, you should not assume that it will be easy. My parents moved from the highly developed city of New York to a town with few sidewalks, and considerable mud. The school buildings were army barracks, full of dust and spiders, with almost no teaching equipment. The job began with tears and hard work.
Finally, I think he might say to us, that we should never allow any human authority to stand between ourselves and our God. He was fully Protestant. As I have watched my father during these last few months, I have seen the great peace and satisfaction that have come to him because he chose to do what God called him to do. He enjoyed every bit of the hard work, and he was content that he had done what he could do.
IV: The Epilogue
The last time I was able to understand what my father was saying, he talked about being tired. Im quite sure he meant that he was tired of trying to keep going, but the words were not clear, so I asked, "Do you mean that youre just tired of trying?"
Whatever he might have meant at first, there was now another thought on his mind. With a tone of voice that showed that showed a little frustration with my slowness, the answer came very clearly: "No, I am not tired of teaching."
September 17, 2002.
Abide with Me, introduction by Fred Bennett
To most of you on this side [gesturing to the seated engineering alumni] Prof was very special. I didnt learn how special, until one evening a couple of months ago. I went over, as was our custom, Dr. Masden and I would often go over and help him put a puzzle together or something. This one night we were putting a puzzle together that had a lot of sky in it. It was very difficult to find the right pieces. And he had already had his stroke, and it was difficult for him to speak. And he was frustrated and I could tell that, so I would hold the piece and turn it around a little bit and hed shake his head, and Id put it down. But as he watched the sky and the trees as they came into being, instead of his garbled grunts that were difficult to understand, in a strong voice he said, "Theyre still trying to prove evolution. Theyll never do it." He was always a man of profound statements. He depended upon a savior. He loved this song, number 50 in your hymn book, "Abide with Me." I would like to have the congregation sing stanzas 1 and 4, and I would like only engineers group over here to sing stanzas number 3 with emphasis on the "I" for yourself.
Psalm 1, one of Profs favorite passages: "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the council of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree, planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Not so, the wicked. They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous, for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked, will perish."
Prof Crosss life sketch has reminded us that he was an exceptional man. The founder of a major segment of this college, he became a contributing member of the church and community too.
Youve heard the titles and roles he played, city engineer, city councilman, Transportation Board, United Way, Kiwanis Club charter member, Sabbath School teacher, elder, head elder. His stamp is on our buildings and streets, curbs and sidewalks, our minds and our hearts. Many of us live our lives differently because of him.
He modeled the balanced engineer for several generations of students. Sound education, commitment to professional excellence, community involvement, personal devotion, church leadership, family pride and loyalty. In many ways it seems to me that he authored the description of the stereotypical engineer.
Speaking of family loyalty, his investment has been returned. All his family have been proud of him for years, and especially so in recent years. All of you family have been loyal to him to. Even those of you who live far away. But especially recently, and especially those who lived closest, Carlton and Nancy, have acted out what it means to honor a father. Hours spent with him at home, taking care of his affairs, his medical and personal needs, while not always visible to the rest of us, were always present, nevertheless.
And hundreds and hundreds of us saw you, Nancy, Sabbath after Sabbath, walking more and more slowly from week to week, into Sabbath School class with him, and then to church. You have endeared yourself to us, by your attentive and gracious love for him.
He was visionary, purposeful, and disciplined. He reached his goals with unhurried purpose and tenacious determination, more than frenetic activity. While not flamboyant, he was passionate about his beliefs and intentions. He carried himself with an aura of untroubled adequacy and quiet competence.
And while perhaps not a great risk taker himself, in combination with Mrs. Cross, he did become a potent force. His straightforward directness and unpretentious affirmation, confronted and/or encouraged many of us.
I remember our visit with his church board, when we were considering pastoring here. Troubled that no one on the board raised any objections to a list of interests and suggestions I had, which I assumed would be troublesome, I asked why no one had commented on them. And after a quiet pause, he stood and said, "Youve been going down the list of criteria we formulated for the one we wished to come." Affirmation.
Several months later, he and Mrs. Cross were in California visiting Marilyn and Ed, Norman and Marvin, when we were packing up the family to move them to Walla Walla. Several days before the moving van was to come, everything fell apart. The girls caught the flu. Barbara and I were deluged at work, and Prof and Mrs. Cross came to our house, and started packing boxes.
Two days before the moving van was scheduled to arrive, the driver showed up, and went to the garage where Prof and Mrs. Cross were packing things up, and began loading things into the van, packed or not. Prof got frustrated and finally said to the driver, "Leave, and come back when youre scheduled to be here." I think Carlton, that was the lay equivalent of, "You are dismissed from my classroom." When he told us that story, he had a twinkle in his eye too. Confrontation.
Someone which Bob Wood read, describes well this rock-solid, life-long, unflinching attachment to God. Prof Cross typifies that Psalm for many of us. Raised on solid Bible-Baptist study, his life-long commitment to sound, reasoned, scripture-based faith, never wavered. Convinced of Adventist truth, he withstood pressure and became an Adventist.
This kind of action, based on conscience, could be illustrated by all sorts of other decisions in his life too. He was a man of principle, one who based his life on careful thought, who expressed himself deliberately, and acted resolutely in harmony with his convictions. Initially skeptical of a church with such, apparently strange, ideas, once convinced, he dedicated his life to supporting this institution. Through pleasant and difficult times, he maintained his focus on his convictions, and remained stalwart. That resolute and unwavering focus, challenges me, and models for us how to live proudly and substantially in an imperfect world.
Sabbath mornings were extremely important to him. This spring, he so keenly wanted to be at the "divine service," as he called it, that he came even when he was very weak. His last Sabbath at church, Nancy remembers him praying three times: on the way out of his house, getting ready to come into the church, and leaving the church. All three times, he prayed for strength, strength to be in this place, strength to demonstrate his commitment to being part of Gods people.
Graduation weekend, Carlton and Nancy had so many assignments they could not take him to church that day. When she stopped at his house on her way back from church, he had fallen asleep in his chair, but he was dressed in his suit, and the radio was on. He had worshipped over KGTS.
Now to a Biblical message of comfort for those whose lives, keenly feel the loss. The Lord is gracious and righteous. Our God is full of compassion. Precious in the sight of the Lord, is the death of his saints. I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip. He who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber or sleep. The Lord watches over you. The Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm. He will watch over your life. The Lord will watch over your coming and going, both now, and ever more. Amen.
In our family, grandma was the one who always enjoyed reading humor or telling funny stories. As in: Only in America are there handicapped parking places in front of a skating rink. Only in America do we have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering. Only in America do we leave cars worth thousand of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.
Well in grandpa and grandmas family, the car went into the garage, and useless junk, if it existed, I didnt know about it. Everything had a place in their family, in their home. Everything had a value.
Of course, grandpa, being the teacher, had many lessons to teach, and one of them, was how to appreciate humor, which grandma would consistently regale us with. Example. The seven ages of man (and woman) are: spills, drills, thrills, bills, ills, pills, and wills.
Well, whatever stage of life grandpa was at, my formative years were at the "thrills" age. It was thrilling to be with grandpa. Hed always have some sort of new lesson to teach, some moral point, or a game to play.
One game was, Othello. Some people know it as Reversi. Theres a picture that my dad has, I am not certain where the picture is, but grandpa is sitting on one side, I am sitting on the other. Grandpa has this frustrated look on his face. I have a smile. In between the two of us is this game, Othello. Apparently I had just won, because all of the squares on the board were full.
But games were not the only thing that grandpa did with grandkids. He also told stories. Stories of thrilling events in his life. For example, living in NYC, while growing up, he used to go to the "automat". I dont know if you know what an automat is, but hed tell stories about it. Youd walk into this automat, and for a small amount, you could get a fairly reasonable meal to eat. What you did was this. Youd take out a dollar, or maybe two, give it to the person at the counter, and he was amazed, there was this huge bin of nickels, and the person would put their hand into this bin of nickels, and no matter how much money youd given the person at the counter, they could always put their hand in and come out with just the right number of nickels. Every single time. And not matter how many times you counted, you always had just the right number. And for grandpa this was one thrilling event about growing up because it was a constant source of amazement.
Of course, grandpa grew up in New York City, and we knew that he was a real New Yorker. How do you know? You say "the city" and expect everyone to know that this means Manhattan. Or? You can get into a four-hour argument about how to get from Columbus Circle to Battery Park at 3:30 on the Friday before a long weekend, but you cant find Wisconsin on a map. Or? Going to Brookland is considered a road trip.
Well, grandpa went places in New York City. As a young person, he used to walk to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. In fact, the New York Yankees were his favorite team. And his eyes would light up, whenever he would talk about the Yankees. And youd ask him, especially if your favorite team might have been the Dodgers (theyre my favorite team), youd ask him, "Grandpa, what do you think is the best team, ever."
Momentary pause, followed by a very quick answer: "The 1927 Yankees". Of course. They had the best winning percentage, of any major league team, that is so far as I know of won the World Series. 1927 they won a hundred and ten games, lost forty-four. That was before the baseball season changed from 154 game schedule to 162. And even with the extra games, the Yankees still have the best record of a team that also won the World Series.
And of course grandpa would talk about some of the players he watched play on the Yankees, and what a thrill it was to hear him talk. He saw Babe Ruth play, including some games during the 27th season when Ruth hit 60 home runs. Or Joe DiMaggio play. Lou Gehrig for example.
Lou Gehrig we remember because of Lou Gehrigs disease. Well, Lou Gehrigs last game that he played, grandpa was in the stadium, grandpa saw that game. And when the game was over, and Gehrig left the field for the final time as a player, he waved to the crowd, and you knew that grandpa had seen an amazing event, just by the way he would tell it. What a thrill to listen.
And of course, he enjoyed singing. You know some hymns for senior
citizens: "Precious Lord, Take My Hand
And Help Me Get Up,"
Considering My Age," or "Guide Me Oh
Thou Great Jehovah
Ive Forgotten Where I Parked."
Well, grandpa, the constant teacher, had many lessons, many stories, and a lot of humor, but forget? No, never.
My names Marvin. I was the first of the Crosss grandchildren, chronologically. I havent actually managed to read this myself, without crying, Im sorry theres not a whole lot of humor in it, but as my uncle said, it was difficult to separate my grandmother from my grandfather, but this is really written about him, not that it doesnt apply to her, but this is about him.
Perhaps you knew him as Professor Edward F. Cross, engineer and teacher. Some of you knew him as Edward Cross, Sabbath School teacher or elder. Some of you just knew him as Edward, friend.
In whatever capacity, almost certainly, youre the better for it. I know I am. I knew him as grandpa. Grandpa, who always had time to play a game (today I know he let me win), or read a story (grandpa did special effects, long before there was a Spielberg), or answer questions (I had thousands or millions), or say a prayer. And then there was the grandpa who loved me just the way I was. Simple things, seemingly insignificant, but formative, and oh, so important to a child.
And I was a child when I had the greatest opportunity to spend time with my grandpa, we were just up the road here in Pullman. Dad was finishing up his PhD, I was starting mine (I got it 26 years later). We talked on the phone, we visited on weekends, and we lived with them some, when mom was pregnant. And little by little, who he was formed part of who I would become.
And so, even today, there are things I know because grandpa taught me, things I can do, because grandpa showed me, and thoughts that I think, because he asked me questions. And after we moved back east, opportunities to see grandpa were fewer. Though we still talked on the phone every week, and every conversation ended the same way, "Marvin, I love you, and I pray for you everyday." Such simple things, seemingly insignificant, but fundamental, and oh, so important to a child.
We moved again, this time to California. Visits to grandpas house were easier. We still talked on the phone every week. I was growing up though, and somehow school, and girls, and cars (not always in that order), seemed more exciting than grandpa. But still in my heart I knew that he believed in me, and that he loved me, and that he prayed for me. No matter what I said or did, whether he agreed with me or not, without condition. Such simple things, seemingly insignificant, but unconditional, and oh, so important to a child.
And then I strayed, not a misstep, not a detour, a 20-year sojourn in the wilderness. I dont know what he knew, enough Im sure, and the talks and the visits got fewer and further between, but each one ended the same, "I love you, and I pray for you every day." Such simple things, seemingly insignificant, but faithful, and oh, so important to a child.
Two years, 10 months, 6 days ago, I came back. Not yet to College Place, but to the Lord. And I knew there were some things I needed to say. So two Christmass ago, I came here, and I said them. I told him I was sorry. I thanked him. He smiled. And in a moment of lucidity, the conversation ended the same. He told me that he loved me and that he still prayed from me every day. Such simple things, seemingly insignificant, but forgiving, and oh, so important to a child.
And now he sleeps. The next face hell see will be the smiling face of his Lord Jesus, the Lord he loved, the Lord he served his entire life. And I know hell hear these words: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." How do I know? How do I justify being so bold? Because every conversation ended the same: "Marvin, I love you, and I pray for you every night."
Well done, grandpa. You were faithful to the end. Well done. Such a simple thing, not the least bit insignificant, and oh, so important to a child. Thank you.
read by Tom Thompson and Helen Zolber
(Thompson) An note from Ed Larsen, the first graduate of the School of Engineering, who mentions that he was both at the top and the bottom of his class, possibly because he was the only one in his class:
"I pay tribute to Prof Cross. I believe that was the title he deservedly came by early in his career at WWC. From the first, it was obvious that he was indeed a fully dedicated and prepared teacher. I had completed two years of engineering at Multnomah College in Portland, and planned for Oregon State in the fall of 1947. When I saw an ad in the Gleaner, that WWC was starting a school of engineering, I prayed about it, and with some misgivings, I made the decision to transfer. The facilities were not great, second-hand, macabre army barracks buildings, but the teaching was superb. It was the best decision I could have made, both professionally and socially.
At times the class session bells did not ring, but that was no problem. Prof was in the classroom, with his best pocket watch, right on time, lecture notes open at the table. At the end of the period, whether the bell rang or not, Prof would close his notebook without so much as looking at his watch, and we wondered how could he always time his lectures so that closely.
A few years later, in front of my own students, I tried to emulate Profs well-prepared presentations. With the passing years, I realize more fully what a devoted man he really was, and respected his dedication, all the more. As Carlton reported, its been a very good 93 years, and Im pleased that for the last 55 years, he has been "Prof" to me. How blessed we have been that for all those years, he was right here at our beloved WWC.
(Zolber) Allen Chellis writes:
"Prof was one of a kind, and will always be remembered by all his engineers, for his understanding and kindness. Like when I went deer hunting with two friends, and things conspired that we didnt get back to the campus, until 3 a.m. on a Monday, with an exam scheduled for 7:30 a.m. He gave me only a small bit of advice, when I deserved a real reprimand. All his students will remember him as a wonderful person."
(Thompson) From Len Harms:
"There are pauses and time delays between words and sentences, as fragments of history are recollected. Ed Cross was God-gifted to teach and model and mentor as he did to so many. It was an honor and distinct privilege to have been one of his students, and its a rare event when I dont remember his influence and lessons when I put my professional seal on a set of plans. Its hard to accept the reality of his absence at WWC."
(Zolber) Doug Clark:
"Although we all expected the news of Prof Crosss death to come some time soon, it is still profoundly sad to hear. Profound, because of the man he was, the career he achieved, the faith he lived and modeled. We do have this hope, but we will still miss the steady, confident, optimistic presence of a saint widely respected and deeply respected. He meant a lot of us. Still does."
(Thompson) Antonette Larondelle:
"I was honored to be a part of Profs life. For the last few years I have been Profs service coordinator. In reality, he taught me the true meaning of service in his gracious and sincere way. He also taught me how to play the game of Othello. Many evenings we would play this strategy board game. He always won. I would say, You won again, Prof. And with a chuckle, he would reply, Were just playing for fun, but it sure is fun to win.
To my friends, Carlton, Nancy, Marilyn, and Ed: I have never worked for a family so caring. I salute you for your love and dedication to your dad, and I appreciated your support and affirmation to my staff and me. Today Im reminded of the frequent times Andre and I would get Prof ready for bed, and we would bid him good night. So with the promise of reuniting, I would like to say, Good night, Prof. See you in the morning."
(Zolber) Mel Lang:
"I have had the privilege of working and interacting with Prof Cross over the past 30-plus years. When I came to Walla Walla College, I fortunately had an office close to his, and we had many long conversations. We also served on numerous committees together.
His words of wisdom, and his ability to comprehend situations and find solutions in a fair, Christian way, always impressed me. He became my role model. I wanted to emulate his many qualities, especially his problem solving ability. When he was head elder of this church I worked with him, and later, when our roles reversed, I tried to pattern my leadership after his. Even in his retirement years, he continued his exemplary role.
Prof Cross gave to countless faculty, staff, students, and to the community, a model of what it means to be truly led by God, and to dedicate all ones abilities to His cause. This is what made him one of the greats and one who will always be remembered as a man of God, chosen for a special mission, here at Walla Walla College."(Thompson) On a personal note. During the last two years of my college experience, Mom and Prof Cross put up with me as a boarder in their home. While there in Mama Cross school for husbands, I learned to keep my door shut if my room was not picked up, and to take the garbage out, cheerfully. Soon after graduation, I changed career directions completely, heading for a life I had not even remotely imagined. Shortly after making that transition, I stopped in College Place to visit Prof Cross and to tell him of my decision. His response was very quiet: "I knew you would." I responded with a (not so quiet), "Well why didnt you tell me?" He replied, "You had to find out for yourself." Ive never forgotten those words.
(Zolber) Charles Bell, who succeeded Professor Cross as the
dean of the School of Engineering:
"The British filmmaker John Bowman, asked, "What is passion?" then answered, "It is surely the becoming of a person. Are we not for most of our lives, marking time?" The more extreme and the more express that passion is, the more unbearable does life seem without it.
From the first time that I met Prof Cross, over 40 years ago, I sensed in him a deep passion for his family, his students, and his profession.
When I first began to teach with him in 1960, one would only need to glance at the crude, reconstituted, military barracks, that housed his small faculty, and observe the painful absence of some essential laboratory equipment, to conclude that this program had little chance for survival.
However, after one became more familiar with the man, his wife, Helen, and their passion, that opinion would be revised. In fact, Im convinced, that their contribution was so critical, that had Dr. and Mrs. Cross left Walla Walla College during the first 15 or 20 years of their service, there would not be a Kretschmar Hall, a Chan Shun Pavilion, or a School of Engineering at Walla Walla College today. An even greater tragedy, would have been the loss of hundreds of engineering alumni who have greatly distinguished themselves all over the world, by using their engineering skills, to bring Jesus comforting benefits of health, safety, and convenience, to thousands of his people.
Bowmans question, "Are we not for most of our lives, marking time?" may for most of us merit the answer: yes. That answer though, does not properly describe Prof. On second thought alert for the proper time to move ahead. That does describe Prof. He was always sensitive to the overall needs and objectives of the college. Not insisting upon special favors, but waiting patiently for the perfect opportunity to make the next improvement.
Bowman said that passion is surely the becoming of a person.
While Prof was good for Walla Walla College, the college was good for him.
He was always growing, especially by learning new technology and by developing
better ways to teach within the drastically changing student culture. Yes,
he even tried to give up his faithful slide-rule for an electronic calculator.
Prof grew old with grace and elegance. After he served 27 years as dean of the engineering faculty, I know it must have been painful for him to give up his office to the new Physics teacher down the hall. If he had had such feelings, he never did or said anything that would confirm them. He was absolutely extraordinary in his blessing to me, as I had my first and only experience in heading a department.
A comment by the late Charles Kuralt gives me encouragement whenever I feel surrounded by unsavory people in todays difficult world. He said, "It does no harm, just once in a while, to acknowledge that there are people in the country besides criminals."
Kuralt was talking about Edward Cross. The dedication, love,
perseverance, and passion, of this wonderful mentor of mine, help make up
for the discouragement cause by the evil in this world. I thank God for his
life, and that our paths crossed in such a splendid way.
And so, dean of deans, we bid you adieu for now. What you have left behind will sustain us, until we can work by your side in the new earth. May God continue to nurture the Edward F. Cross School of Engineering, its staff, its students, and its alumni.
After the benediction, will you please remain quietly in reflection during the violin farewell, and then you will be ushered out. Let us pray:
Lord, God. We now leave this place in the sure and present hope that we will be safe in the arms of Jesus, safe on his gentle breast, here by his love oer shadowed, sweetly my soul doth rest. Here let me wait with patience, wait til the night is oer. Wait til I see the morning break on the golden shore. Until that day, may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.