Memorial Service for Bill Tanner

Memorial Service for Bill Tanner

Prelude (Violin)

Welcome & Introduction (David Buffaloe)

I’d like to start out by thanking the family of Bill Tanner for allowing me to be here today. I had the honor of officiating the memorial of Bill’s wife and your mother and grandmother, Lois Gertrude Potts Tanner on July 26, 2016. At that time they had been married 66 years. Bill lived on this earth without Gertrude for nearly 5 ½ years (5 years, 4 months, 6 days) before he rejoined her on December 2, 2021. I know there was shouting in glory when Bill and Gertrude reunited!

When Steve asked me to officiate this service, he sent me an autobiography that Bill wrote entitled “My Story”. As I read it, I thought it would be fitting to hear Bill’s words at his memorial. In a sense Bill – though now with Jesus – will help in officiating his own memorial. As the Scripture says (Hebrews 11:4), “he being dead yet speaketh”.

Bill lived a tough life. He went through the Great Depression, and as a boy helped pick cotton on the farm of Aunt Mae and Uncle Ernest in Red Hill, Tennessee. Bill’s mother worked in Lawrenceburg, and later Columbia, Tennessee. While living on Cemetery Avenue in Columbia, the family was listening to the radio Sunday, December 7, 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Bill fished in the Columbia Duck River, and being poor made his own fishing tackle out of straight pins. He attended Whitthorne Junior High (now a Middle School) in Columbia, graduating from the eighth grade in the spring of 1941. Entering the Army Medical Corp at 17 years old, he trained and was qualified as a Psychiatric Social Worker.

In our Church we sometimes have “Testimonial Services”. In Bill’s autobiography, hetestified” that as a young boy … these are his words:

“… I had never been to Church or attended any type of worship service. While in junior high school a friend invited me to visit his church one Sunday. I mentioned it to mother, but she seemed to think that I didn’t have proper clothing to wear. Since she never attended we didn’t discuss the matter further. I often wonder what a positive difference church attendance and faith in God would have had in our lives.

I’m afraid that often happens to people seeking the Lord. They don’t “go to Church” because their clothing is shabby, or their morals are off. So many people tell me “When I straighten out my life, I’ll come to Church”. They misunderstand. The Church is a body of people who are broken, and who need the Lord Jesus Christ. When I read this section in “My Story” my heart broke. I rejoiced later in reading where Bill spoke of meeting and marrying the love of his life, Gertrude Potts. He wrote:

I asked her to marry me and she agreed. This was undoubtedly one of the best decisions I ever made (the best one was when I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior several years later!).”

In 1956 Bill and his family moved to Judson Road in Wheaton, Maryland. Bill once more speaks:

During this time a friend at work who was a devout Christian … began to talk to me about becoming a Christian. This man’s name was Robert R. Hudson. He was the accountant for our small company. Bob was persistent. He told me what being a Christian had meant to him, and kept asking if Lois and I would like to visit his Church, First Baptist Church of Silver Spring, Maryland. … Lois had been baptized early in life while a member of the little Nazarene Church in Fly, Tennessee. We both accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and were baptized by Reverend Frank Brasington at First Baptist Church in Silver Spring, Maryland. We began attending on a regular basis and became involved in Sunday School. This was a turning point in our lives.”

Bill’s faith in Jesus was proved by his life. While in Anderson, South Carolina, Bill was ordained a Deacon, and was active in the North Anderson Baptist Church.

One thing that was evident in reading Bill’s autobiography was that his life was not easy.

Throughout his life on this earth Bill and his family changed residences many times.

When Bill retired, he and Gertrude moved to Sun City, a gated community near Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Toward the end of his autobiography, Bill again speaks …

Our social life centers around our Church (First Baptist Church of Bluffton) where we attend both morning and evening services on Sunday plus other activities during the week. We have many friends there and do enjoy the fellowship and worship experience.”

Bill made his final move December 2, 2021. He carried nothing of this earth with him, but moved into a prepared place, a place Jesus has promised to all who believe in Him. Jesus said:

John 14:2-3 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

This Promised Land is available to all who receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. I expect to see Bill and Lois one day, and get to know them personally in what is called that “sweet by and by”. May God the Holy Spirit draw every heart here today to Jesus, “the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to God the Father but through Jesus” (John 14:6).

Opening Prayer (David Buffaloe)

Music: It Is Well With My Soul (Violin)

Reflections: Steve Tanner

Message (David Buffaloe)

One of the greatest and most well known texts in this Bible is found in …

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

This verse is taught to children in Vacation Bible Schools. Most every person I meet has memorized the text. But this verse is part of a conversation that the Lord Jesus Christ had with a Rabbi named Nicodemus.

Nicodemus thought that he was in a good place with God. He was religious. He came to Jesus by night to commend the Lord. Nicodemus was a good man. But was he where he needed to be with God? No. Though he was good and moral, Jesus told Nicodemus:

You must be born again. Unless you are born again,
you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.

Heaven is God’s Kingdom. Heaven is God’s home.

I have in my hand an ancient lock that a dear friend gave me. I have taken this lock to various locksmiths who have said they cannot open it. Why? It needs a specific key that I do not have, and have no idea where it is. Heaven is a gated community, a locked community. Only those who are “born again” – not just born physically, but are born spiritually – can enter Heaven, God’s Home. I may never find the key to this lock, but I tell you – no – JESUS tells you – HE IS THE KEY TO HEAVEN. Jesus said:

John 3:14-15 .. the Son of Man must be lifted up. That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

God the Father sent God the Son to this earth – not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17). Jesus, speaking of Himself in the third Person, told Nicodemus and us …

John 3:18 He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the Only Begotten Son of God.

Though we are all born broken with sin (for there are none righteous, no, not one – Romans 3:10), and because of sin are separated from God spiritually, Jesus came to unite us with our Creator. Dying on the Cross of Calvary, Jesus made payment for our transgressions and sins. The Bible declares:

1 John 1:7 … the Blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin …

Jesus took the penalty of our brokenness on Himself, so that – if we believe on Him – His standing before the Father is placed on our Heavenly accounts. There are not many ways to God. There is but one way to God, and that way is through faith in Jesus. The Apostles preached:

Acts 4:12 (ESV) … there is salvation in no one else {but Jesus}, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved…

The Apostle Paul said in 1 Timothy 2:5, “there is ONE GOD, and there is ONE MEDIATOR between God and mankind, the Man Christ Jesus. Through Jesus God has reconciled to Himself all things, making peace by THE BLOOD OF CHRIST’S CROSS (Colossians 1:20).

You have had the privilege of hearing Bill’s testimony. Bill is not dead, but He is with Jesus this very day. Jesus has said I am the resurrection and the life. Whosoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. And everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26).

Jesus asks us all, “Do YOU believe this?”

Bill and Lois did. They are now in glory with the Lord, a place where all of God’s Children will go. If you have received Jesus as He is, both Christ and Lord, then you will see this beautiful couple again one day. The Kingdom of God is our present and eternal home.

What does this Kingdom look like? The Apostle John gives us a glimpse of Paradise:

Revelation 21:3-5 (ESV) … God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

Bill is not only my brother in Christ, but a fellow veteran. I now turn this service over to the America Legion:

Veteran Honors/ Tribute: American Legion

Music: How Great Thou Art (Violin)


Numbers 6:24-26 The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: 25 The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 26 The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

For Jesus’ glory and honor, amen and amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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