I received the sad news this week of the passing of my favorite uncle, Jan S. Doward, on February 8th, 2016. Jan was a minister, and for many years the Youth Director for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, in Washington D.C., as well as teacher, a film maker, author, and photographer.
His life and ministry were all about serving others and making people laugh. He loved young people and for me he was one of the best influences of my childhood. He treated me like a daughter after the passing of my step-father, Richard, and paid my senior year through high school at Gem State Academy, in Idaho. He invited me to come live with him and Aunt Loneva in Dickerson, Maryland, and offered to pay my way through Southern Missionary College if I did. I turned him down, because at the time, I was too worried about being that far away from home. I wonder where I would be today if I had accepted?!
During that visit, I remember a group of us, decided to go hike to Snoqualmie Falls. As we hiked along Uncle Jan kept us in stitches with his stories. At one point in the hike, he came up beside Gregg and put his arm around his shoulder, leaned in close and said, "Son I think there is some advice I can give you about marriage." Then he paused and said, "By the way how old are you?" Gregg said, "twenty eight!" Jan removed his arm dramatically and with a voice of shock said something like, "I guess that's not needed after all!" Which caused all of us to crack up laughing. I guess he must have thought Gregg was my same age, which was twenty. I still laugh today just remembering it.
When I think back on all the good times I had with dads family, Jan & Loneva Doward, Whitey & Maxine Mace, Max & Memory Thomas, and Donna & Gil Thompson, I get tears in my eyes, for those were such good times, such happy times, and now they are only cherished memories. Who can forget those family get-together's out at Grandpa Thomas' where Uncle Jan and Uncle Whitey tried to outdo one another with their funny stories?! Jan and Whitey loved an audience and they could bring down the house. Of course they both were rather famous Adventists, with Jan in the, "GC", and Whitey as the father of the, "Mace Brothers of Heritage Singer fame", but when they were with family all that need to be dignified just flew out the window, and they were just two of the funniest guys you could ever meet. Jan was all non-mechanically minded minister, and Whitey was all rugged bull raising cowboy, and together they were an absolute riot.
So today I take this opportunity to remember a wonderful man, whose passing from this world has made it a sadder place. Thanks Uncle Jan for all of the love, kindness, and wonderful memories. You are not someone I will ever soon forget.