In November, I visited my college buddy, Ray Lokey. Ray was the owner and publisher of the Capitol-Democrat Newspaper in Tishomingo, Oklahoma. When we visited, he had only days to live and asked me to preach his funeral. Thirty-seven years of friendship wasn’t long enough with a buddy like Ray. In addition to being a Christ follower, he defied labels that tend to be used (too often to exclude) these days. Below is just one paragraph from the eulogy I delivered a couple weeks after my last visit with Ray:
Ray was a wonderful friend who defied modern labels. Trying to describe someone like Ray to a person in our society today is a little difficult. How do you describe a political progressive who is also a conservative Christian? A hard-nosed journalist who is among the most sensitive and caring people I’ve ever known? He was an environmentalist who was also a businessman and unashamed supporter of capitalism. He was a bit of a hippie and yet a Staff Sergeant in the U. S. Army who was a proud veteran and urged others to serve in the military. He was a bell-bottomed teenager with long hair who was also a proud Eagle Scout. Ray was a prominent man in the community, and yet he was one of the most humble servants I have ever known—always ready and willing to serve behind the scenes; he never really sought the limelight. He represented the best part of a full spectrum of views, and I loved him for it. He met those who held opposing views with a huge smile and the offer of a cup of coffee.
Ray was never disagreeable even when he disagreed with someone. He would debate with passion but he was always compassionate. Ray could be on the opposite side of a given issue but he was always kind. When Ray and I differed, we never let that get in the way of our friendship. We never let an opinion get in the way of our love for each other. As we both aged and matured in our faith, we found ourselves closer and closer on most issues, drawn there more by conviction than driven by politics. But that’s another story...
I’m thinking of my friend a lot during these hyper-partisan days and wishing there were more like him. I miss Ray.