49 years ago in May 1970, Norma Jean and I moved to Hillsboro, Ohio, where I began preaching full time on a located basis. It was there we would meet and become life long friends with Dave and Nancy Wyckoff.
This past Wednesday we drove back to Hillsboro to be with Dave and share in his sorrow on Nancy’s passing, and join with him and the family to celebrate her life. On Thursday evening we gathered at the Northside Church of Christ where she has been a member almost all of her adult life for an incredible celebration.
Nancy did not want a sad funeral service, but a celebration of life, that focused on her eternal hope and honored God. In addition to a beginning and ending prayer, and a short message by long-time friend and former preacher at Hillsboro, Bill Pierce, the service included congregational singing featuring 8 of Nancy’s favorite hymns. Included was the song, “Sing and Be Happy, which you rarely, if ever, hear at a funeral service.
The service was a testimony to Nancy’s deep faith and love for the Lord. Bill’s eulogy referenced the passage in Psalm 116:15. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”
Nancy was a saint. But not in the way the world often incorrectly views the word. Biblically, a saint is one who is called by the gospel (1 Cor. 1:1). Who is a member of the family of God (Eph. 2:19). Who is sanctified, and set apart to the Lord, separate from the carnality of the world, and walks in the light of Jesus, living a life befitting and complimenting the Gospel (Eph. 4:17-5:17). A saint looks forward to their eternal inheritance promised by God to those who are faithful to him (Col. 1:12; Rev. 2:10). Nancy lived and died a saint.
Nancy was not perfect, but she was pardoned. She was not sinless, but she was sanctified. And she was not flawless, but she was forgiven. Nancy was a Christian. And she fervently desired that her friends and family also be faithful followers of the Lord as well.
In reading her 238-word obituary, it does not begin to tell the story of Nancy’s life. As I looked at the dates of her life and death, April 24, 1943-July 20, 2019, I thought of the poem by Linda Ellis that reminds us what matters most is the “dash between those years.” That dash spoke of the impact and influence of Nancy’s life on so many people.
For me and Norma Jean that dash represents 49 years of friendship. Fond memories. Late nights. Laughter. Tears. Places we’ve traveled. Meals we’ve eaten together. Secrets we’ve shared. Successes and failures. Hopes and dreams. And the many times we’ve worshiped together and shared our mutual faith.
I think of Nancy as a composite of so many wonderful women of the Bible. She was like the worthy woman of Proverbs 31 who earned the respect, trust, and admiration of her husband, children, and friends. She was Phoebe, a faithful helper in the church who served the saints (Rom. 16:1). And Nancy was like the businesswoman Lydia who placed her priority in spiritual matters, worshiped devoutly, and joyfully extended hospitality to ministers of the Gospel (Acts 16-15).
Norma Jean and I are not alone in our love and appreciation for our Nancy Wyckoff. Thursday night in just over two hours, 700 people paid their respects to the family. When the service began the building was packed. Nancy reminds us that one does not have to be well known nationally or internationally to make a difference and impact people in our little corner of the world.
As we pay tribute to our dear friend, we offer to her husband, Dave, her daughters Cheryln and Tammy, and son Jason, as well their spouses, children, and grandchildren, our heartfelt sympathy. We feel your hurt and loss. But we also share your hope. And we “sorrow not even as others which have no hope.”
Nancy’s faithful life, the confident way in which she faced death with no worries, and the celebration of her life, should be an inspiration to all who knew her.
Nancy was able to say along with the apostle Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 5:7-8).
May it be so with each of us as we come to the end of life’s journey.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman