Known for his kindness and quiet demeanor, Cecil Rash was a dedicated family man with an impeccable work ethic and calm presence.
That’s the way we wrapped the biography section of my father-in-law’s obituary in late January.
During the graveside service, we also shared about his longtime and ever-growing relationship with Christ and years of faithful service to his church — First Baptist Church, Cairo, Georgia, for the past 25-plus years and Sheridan Hills Baptist Church, Hollywood, Florida, for more than 20 years prior to that.
Cecil and Sue Rash’s commitment to Christ and involvement in church for their entire married life rubbed off on their three children — and eventually served as a model for me too.
Sheridan Hills Baptist Church is where I met Jason during my two-year missions term serving the Caribbean through the International Mission Board.
When I met Jason in the mid-1990s, his parents had already made the move to south Georgia, but Jason always had stories to share. So when I did meet them, I felt as if I had always known them.
In telling me about his dad during those early days, Jason always described him simply as a great dad.
And in delivering the eulogy for his dad a few days ago, Jason said, “I wish you could see the exclamation points I put on my paper after this sentence: He was a GREAT dad.”
A somewhat generic term in many cases, but Jason’s emotional emphasis of “great” for his dad revealed layers and layers of reasons and experiences — something we all deeply understood without needing extra words.
And while his presence is piercingly absent in the family home, Cecil also will be missed by many in the city of Cairo. He loved Cairo — which happened to be where he spent his formative years prior to college, as well as where he retired — and worked hard to keep it moving forward.
The 85-year-old, single-screen Zebulon theater in town was one of Cecil’s favorite projects, so it only seemed fitting that the marquee pay tribute to him the same day immediate family gathered at the graveside.
And just like all of you have most likely experienced at some point in your journey, the church family stepped in to do what it does best during times of grief — provided prayer, food, phone calls, notes, flowers, plants and listening ears.
COVID-19 restrictions prevented visits from friends like we were used to in the past, but our combined church families from four states surrounded and embraced the family.
The Rash family’s current pastor and former pastor in Cairo, both dear friends, also ministered to the family consistently — and continue to do so — even while balancing so many other needs in their church families.
As we work on all that comes following the death of a family member, I am reminded of the various gifts and skill sets each family member brings and am encouraged to watch us work together as a team.
Cecil would undoubtedly love the group effort taking place. And while he likely wouldn’t actually say much out loud, he would be proud of Sue and his children and grandchildren. He would think they were all pretty great themselves.