I've been thinking about Frank Verley for the past few days, and for good reason.
Frank died almost two years ago from COVID 19. I imagine that he was more than ready to go, eager to be reunited with his beloved wife, Diane.
Although Frank has been gone now for 22 months, we've yet to hold his memorial service. God willing, this is about to change. Frank's son, Peter, is scheduled to return to Minnesota this month after living and working overseas. If things go according to plan, a memorial service for Peter and Julie's dad will be held in mid-August. (I'll keep you posted once the date and time have been finalized.)
Like all of us to one degree or another, Frank's life was a mixture of good, bad, and ugly. He survived a very, very difficult childhood. Frank once told me how, when he was quite young, his father died in excruciating pain after being injured in a horrific workplace accident. (He was scalded to death, if my memory is correct.)
Afterwards, things didn't get any better for Frank or his brother, George. They went from bad to worse. I'll let Pioneer Press reporter Frederick Melo tell this part of the Verley boys' story.
By the time that I met Frank, he was retired. He had worked for the State of Minnesota for many years as Vocational Rehabilitation counselor. As a side business, Frank and Diane also ran a photography studio out of their home; the kids later joining in to assist.
Frank was a proud Marine. (When he came to church, he almost always had a USMC ballcap and jacket on.) Frank was very intelligent, as the jarheads quickly discovered. After acing some tests, he was assigned to a special unit. With only a high school education at the time, Frank found himself working with men who had graduate degrees.
Following his days serving Uncle Sam, Frank enrolled at the University of Minnesota. In subsequent years, Frank married and became a father. Being a dad led to a turning point for the entire family. Frank went looking for a private school for his son, Peter. It was this search that led him to Our Saviour's.
Frank shared all of these details with me over a few meals that we enjoyed together. In his soft-spoken, matter-of-fact way, Frank told me how he had lost his faith, becoming an atheist at one point. But the Hound of Heaven was soon on the trail, tracking him down.
Later, Frank discovered Francis Thompson's stirring poem. It fit him to a T.
Frank loved The Hound of Heaven so much that he gave me a copy, writing a brief inscription inside: "BRIAN, THIS IS MY FAVORITE POEM."
In closing, I'd like to share it with you, as well as a fantastic video about Francis Thompson, the author: