Reflecting on the life of a great man

It was the fall of 1977 and I was a green college freshman on the campus of Murray State University in Murray, KY.  My attendance at MSU was not part of the original plan, but God had a different plan and I ended up at Murray that fall studying Engineering Physics.   Murray was a quiet community nestled in Western Kentucky and social life on the campus was pretty limited unless you joined a fraternity.  Murray was primarily a “suitcase college” where many attended class during the week and then headed home each weekend. I visited several houses and received bids from Kappa Alpha and Sigma Chi, but I decided to wait and pledge later.

In the fall of 1978 I hit the rush scene once again and accepted a bid from Sigma Chi.  Our pledge class was 11 strong and I learned many things from my pledge brothers and the actives who nurtured us.  One of those actives I got to know well was Dan Stallings, a large, friendly, fun loving guy from Rockport, Indiana.  Dan and I had many things in common and he was one of the actives who didn’t treat pledges too badly.  Life dealt Dan an unfortunate blow with the death of a parent and he headed home for a semester to take care of the family, leaving me his role as Quaestor (treasurer) of the fraternity.  I did my best to not mess up his work while he was gone.

Time went by and we all graduated, going our separate ways.  Dan married and he and his family ventured to several parts of the country, ending up just north of Louisville, KY.  Even as the years progressed, Dan’s spirit never lessened and his sharp wit was always apparent.  In addition, his deep love for his family never waned.

Earlier this year we all received the news that Dan was dealt another tough blow, being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  From the date of his diagnosis, Dan displayed a positive demeanor and never gave any indication that he would let cancer defeat him.  Having had an older brother who encountered pancreatic cancer four years ago, I had many memories of what Dan might be dealing with, but I kept the prayers coming, just as all of us did from days gone by.

I received news on Monday that Dan had passed on to the chapter eternal, leaving behind his wife, children and many sad friends who will miss his upbeat humor and constant harassment of Kentucky basketball, (he was a proud IU fan).  While we will not encounter Dan again in this world, my faith gives me complete confidence that we will be reunited again in a better place where we will talk not only about the times we spent together, but also about the opportunities we receive each day to enhance the lives of those around us.

Each of us have choices we make each day.  Our choices can be influenced either in a positive or negative manner, but we have the ultimate opportunity to take what some may see as a bad opportunity and make it into something that improves the lives of others.

Dan Stallings was one of those people that others liked to be around.  He might be a little direct  in needling you, but you never doubted where his heart really was.

Godspeed Brother Stallings!

The White Cross has gained new luster by your life.