Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Vision (5/20/10): In Memoriam: R. William LaGrange (1936-2010)

On Wednesday afternoon, May 19, 2010, our brother Bill LaGrange went to be with the Lord. Bill was born in Endicott, New York and worked for over 35 years with IBM. While a student at Rider University Bill met and married Judi. The Lord blessed their union with three daughters and twelve grandchildren.

The biggest event in Bill’s life happened when he was 38 years old. At the time, the LaGranges were living in Northern Virginia. Some friends at Bill’s workplace kept bugging him about going to their church. He finally went and was converted under the preaching of the gospel. A month and a half later, Judi was also converted. Bill’s life began to change dramatically. Before his conversion he was a self-confessed “golf bum” with an overly competitive spirit. The only reading he did was Golf Digest and Sports Illustrated. After he was converted he gave up golf completely. He developed a passion for reading and studying the Bible. That led to reading other Christian books, especially the works of Reformed writers like D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and R. C. Sproul.

After Bill retired from IBM he threw his life into Christian service. He and Judi became founding members of a church plant in Burlington, Vermont that was meeting in a classroom at a local university. Bill became an Elder there while Judi became the church secretary. That little plant, Christ Memorial Church, eventually became a thriving congregation and the mother church for numerous church plants across New England.

Just a couple of years ago, Bill and Judi decided to retire and move to Charlottesville. Bill had suffered with a blood disease, and he wanted to escape the harsh New England winters. Soon after moving to Virginia, however, Bill’s health began to decline. Most troublesome was the development of an aggressive skin cancer on his arm. Last November, Bill was told that the skin cancer was beyond treatment and that he would soon die. Bill’s prayer was that he would be able to “to finish well.”

Though told he had mere weeks to live, the Lord had other purposes and Bill’s life was graciously extended for more than six months. During that time, he and Judi became founding participants at another church plant, Christ Reformed Baptist Church. Bill was there on the very first Lord’s Day when we met in January and missed only one Lord’s Day gathering up until four weeks ago. Over the last few months I often sought Bill’s valued counsel as we moved forward with our church.

We will miss Bill greatly. We grieve alongside Judi and her family but not as men who have no hope. We find great comfort in knowing that Bill has finished his course and is now engaged full time in the very thing he enjoyed most while here on earth, worshipping his Lord.

There will be a service of worship to offer thanks to God for Bill’s life at 11:00 am on Monday, May 24th at the Hill and Wood Funeral Home in Charlottesville. A graveside service will follow at Riverview Cemetery. There will also be a reception following the graveside service at 1410 Incarnation Drive (Suite 202-B) hosted by CRBC.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Stephanie and I have been deeply encouraged by Bill and Judy's faith, inspite of his illness. Not doubting Gods goodness or wisdom, even in the midst of suffering. Both Bill and Judy did infact finish well.

"Well done, good and faithful servant".

Brian O.