Dicky Willingham

– In Memoriam –
James W. ’Dicky’ Willingham
October 18, 1956 –
March 12, 2019

James W. “Dicky” Willingham was born October 18, 1956 and passed from this life March 12, 2019 at 62 years of age. Dicky was preceded in death by his parents, Mr. James W. ‘Dick’ Willingham and Mrs. Ollie Sue Chandler Willingham. He is survived by his wife, Jan Berch Willingham of McComb; sisters, Kathy Givens (Galen) of Cleveland, Margaret Dobbs (John) of Monroe, LA, and Carol Moore (Johnny) of Cleveland. He also survived by many nieces and nephews. Dicky was loved by all who knew him. Funeral services conducted by John Dobbs of Monroe, Louisiana and Ronnie Lofton of Brookhaven, Mississippi. Pall bearers are Malcolm Berch, Chad Givens, Galen Givens, Austin Green, Harvey Green, and Mike Story. Honorary Pall bearers are Glynn Berch, Lynn Berch, Randy Clark, Howard McCoy, and Johnny Moore. Internment at New Zion Cemetery, Crystal Springs, Mississippi. 

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us…. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

– Romans 8:35, 37-39

Eulogy for Dicky Willingham

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!   O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning,  more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love,  and with him is plentiful redemption.

Psalm 130:1-7

The Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature (Genesis 2:7). From the beginning of Scripture the Bible affirms that Human Life is valuable, a gift of God, and a blessing to be shared with other human beings. Eve was created and in the beautiful setting of Eden we do not know how long our human parents lived without pain or hardship in a brand new world. If our story only ended in Eden! What a different world we would experience. 

But that is not our story. Adam and Eve’s failure introduced a cataclysmic change in the ecosystem of God’s Good Planet. The ideal setting which they enjoyed would be no longer. Pain, sweat, fear, separation, and death were introduced into their existence. The first parents of the Bible suffered the death of the first son. Cain would live the rest of his life in fear. Six chapters into Genesis and God was grieved with the depths of sin he saw in his world. 

This sounds more like the world in which we live. 

After his great losses Job contemplated his grief. In chapter 3 he says, “…My sighing comes instead of my bread,and my groanings are poured out like water. For the thing that I fear comes upon me,and what I dread befalls me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet;I have no rest, but trouble comes.” Later he writes that, “Man who is born of a womanis few of days and full of trouble.”(Job 14:1). 

I bring to mind these difficult beginnings because sometimes we think that the world ought to be a happy place for those who serve the Lord. And there are so many blessings to count and so many good things that the Lord gives us. Yet there is pain.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!  O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

Our beloved Dicky brought so much joy into our lives. I was his brother in law for 31 years, and he always treated me like a true brother from the beginning. Many of you knew him longer than that and can testify of the compassion he had for others, his contagious sense of humor, and his strong work ethic. 

He loved his family. This was evident by the way he was continually involved in projects for his mom and dad at their home when they were alive. They bragged about his excellent work and you could see the pride they took in him as a son. 

He loved Jan. They walked through this world together for 40 years. I’ve always been impressed with their relationship and the closeness that I could see there. 

Kathy, Carol, Maggy, Dicky

When I became a part of the Willingham family I immediately saw the beautiful connections present throughout every relationship and I know Dicky was thankful for his family, his sisters, his wife, his friends, and his church.

He was a  man who loved God and desired to help every lost person come to know the saving power of Jesus Christ. Dicky wanted to live his life by the teachings of the Bible and often talked to me about things he was studying. 

Yes, there were so many blessings in Dicky’s life. But I don’t want to say today that Dicky lived in Eden. 

He lived with Chronic Pain for so long, and had so little hope of it ever being relieved. He struggled with all he had against the bi-polar disorder that gave him such emotional highs and lows that the fight was constant. Even with support from family and friends, prayers and hopes, he faced a giant struggle. So we do not judge him, nor blame him. We only miss him. 

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!  O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

Today we think about Dicky’s life and what he meant to each one of us individually. I am certain that we will revisit those memories for as long as we live. None of us here today will ever forget Dicky Willingham. Our love for him lives on.

For a while we will walk the journey of grief. It is a painful walk and one that reminds us daily of the man we are missing in our lives. But it is also a progressive walk, because in the days to come the memories we have of Dicky will provoke more smiles than tears. Healing will take place. The darkness we experience today will not always be here. 

Dicky is with the Lord. Long ago he acted in faith and was baptized into Christ. The blood of Jesus continually cleansed him over the years. He is not with the Lord because he was perfect or even because he was strong. But he is with the Lord as Scripture promises, Jesus “…is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). If you give your life to Christ He is powerful enough and able to save you and pray for you as well. 

I don’t know for sure what Dicky would say to us from his new experience in heaven, but I do learn some great things from Dicky’s life:

*When you work, put your whole heart into it, and do it right.

*Watch for ways to speak the gospel into the lives of others.

*Love the people you are around.

*Laugh when you can.

*Always love Jesus. 

*Listen to good music.

Those are the qualities I observed in the life of Dicky Willingham. 

None of us live in Eden today, but we have faith that Dicky has received relief from his pain and burdens. There are no tears in heaven. He is reunited with those who have gone before. Now we should live in such a way as to enjoy a great reunion day with Him one day.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!    O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning,  more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.

Psalm 130:1-7

Prayer: Father from the depths of our broken hearts, please hear our cry for mercy. Our unanswered questions and unresolved feelings weigh heavy on us, but we cast all our cares upon you. You care for us. You’ve promised to walk with us through the darkest valley, the valley of death. Here we will fear no evil because you are with us. Help us remember that. Especially be present with Jan and with Dicky’s sisters … and all who loved him. Your word says you come near to the downhearted. So we trust you are near right now. Comfort us … surround us … give us courage for the days ahead. We trust You. We Believe You. In the powerful name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

6 Comments

  1. Jan I will always remember the good times we shared. You could see the way Dicky looked at you that he loved you so much. I can’t imagine your pain right now, but I love you and will keep you in my prayers. Love and prayers for all of Dicky’s family and friends. God Bless you and keep you. 💚🙏💚

  2. Dear John and Maggy,
    Loss of a loved one is always difficult. I lost my sweet mom one year ago and miss her dearly. Knowing she is in a much better place for eternity brings joy and peace to my heart After reading your eulogy for Dicky I can feel the peace you have for your brother. I know it takes a long time to grieve and I am praying for both of you and your family as yo
    u continue in that process. May God continue to bless you and comfort you.
    Love,
    Linda

  3. A beautiful and grateful message. My sincere condolences to the family. God is Good and is a Forgiving God. I pray comfort and peace for Dickey’s wife and his sisters.

  4. Thanks for the affirmation that we are to love one another and for the blessing of loving and being loved by Dicky.

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