At the Graveside Service of Thanksgiving for the Life of Jim Hubbard, the warmth for his well-lived life was as prevalent as the late October sunshine. The cemetery staff wheeled a portable shade structure next to his grave to give the 100 or so in attendance some shade before the service got underway.
Pastor Don Wilson, recently retired from Heights Cumberland Presbyterian Church, where Jim was a member for a number of years, opened the service saying, “It fascinates me how many connections one life leads to. So many of you here today is an act of God that shows the connections throughout Jim’s life and your lives.”
The service started with a reading of Gospel 1st John 4:7-16 and the 23rd Psalm.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God.
He who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, for God is love.
By this was God’s love revealed in us, that God has sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Beloved, if God loved us in this way, we also ought to love one another.
No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God remains in us, and his love has been perfected in us.
By this we know that we remain in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world.
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him, and he in God.
We know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and he who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.
Jim Hubbard’s sons Bill and Jim both shared some warm thoughts about their dad.
The pastor read Bill’s words. In addition to being loving, caring, honorable and truthful, he was blunt, ornery, hard-headed, and stubborn. But mostly, he was “there.” He was there to take people to the hospital, such as when brother Jim stuffed a radish up his nose. He took his sons camping, played catch, supported the baseball leagues his sons played in, and was there for Bill and his wife after they were married.
And now he is not “there” in person, but his love, honor integrity, support and care are still here. Those qualities that he instilled in his family remain and live on.
Brother Jim said in regard to that radish story, he hopes he gets to speak at his brother’s funeral. He commented that many descriptions of the deceased at a funeral are sugarcoated to the point that those in attendance might not know who’s being talked about.
“My dad had no halo. He was often direct,” he said. “If you were the recipient of his directness, I offer my apology. I’ve been on the receiving end numerous times.”
He went on to describe a man of honor, service, integrity, and duty. He never knew his dad to tell a lie, he was always “top-drawer.” He was faithful to his wife for 68 years. “Top that,” became the theme he repeated throughout his comments.
He was a man who played basketball but learned baseball because that’s what his two sons played. He and his wife were always there in the stands, supporting them with their baseball leagues. “Top that.”
He took his sons fishing at Blue Water Lake and Red River. Mom got a vacation while the three of them were gone. He never doubted he was one of the three most important people in his dad’s life, and he still provided a positive influence in such a wide circle of family and friends. “Top that.”
His dad slept through plenty of sermons, but he was more of a “go out there and live it kind of guy.” He was a long term member of Gideon’s International, distributing Bibles to many individuals and locations. He also was a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, an Emeritus Member of the governing body of the Order of DeMolay, and he served as Master of Albuquerque Lodge #60 AF and AM.
“Jesus didn’t go to seminary, he walked by the Sea of Galilee and called ordinary guys to do ordinary things that matter for eternity,” he said. “Dad was no saint by the standards of the world, but he accomplished things that mattered. Top that.”
Pastor Don spoke a homily based on Luke 13:18-21, about the Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast, and Romans 10:4-13, on the word being in your mouth and in your heart, and believing you will be saved. “Jim Hubbard was a man of the Greatest Generation who believed in Jesus. When asked if he was going to go to heaven, he said ‘I sure hope so.’ He is in heaven because of his belief.”
A few verses of “Amazing Grace” were sung a capella. Pastor Don said that this would be a place of memorial. “When you come to visit, remember it’s because of God that Jim’s life matters so much.”
After a benediction, the funeral director presented Jim’s wife Lorraine with a folded American flag in recognition of Jim’s World War II service as a pilot and instructor in the Army Air Corps. Flags for the U.S. Army and the United States were displayed on stands next to the grave.
Memorial donations may be made to Gideon’s International, 111 3rd Street NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102.
The next time you find a Gideon’s Bible in a hotel room, think of Jim Hubbard. May he bask in the warmth of eternal sunshine.