Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Remembering Phil Penner



Yesterday we received a very tragic phone call informing us that one of Rodney's best friends, Phil had passed away. He was living in Indonesia and had contracted Dengue Fever which ended his life. When we heard the news we were crushed. Phil and Rodney had been friends since high school and remained close until he passed. He left a wife and a 3 year-old daughter behind and we couldn't grieve more for their loss.

I met Phil even before Rodney and I started dating because he would come to visit him (and their other mutual good friend, Dave) at Greenville. I remember my first impressions of him were that he was a cute, funny, and incredibly nice guy. He turned out to be one of the most loving people I knew and Rodney keeps referring to him as a saint. The individual that he worked with in Indonesia told his parents back in Kansas that Phil was one of the most godly men he had ever met. What a loss. Rodney was torn up all day yesterday and even came home from work early. He regeretted having to return today, but decided that he would wait to hear when the memorial service would be held in Kansas so he could take time off for that. From what we know, they will be having the funeral in Chicago (where he lived and met Esther before moving to Indonesia) in the next few days and then a memorial service in McPherson, KS towards the end of the week.

We are very sad about this and are going to miss Phil so much. Rodney said he would miss being able to learn from Phil the most. He informed me that he loved being able to ask him questions and even though they may not always agree, Phil would always teach Rodney something. I think Phil's life was a great lesson in how to be a loving person and a catalyst for God's will in the world. We offer prayers for Esther and Anna and his family in Kansas.

We will miss you dearly, Phil.

(P.S. The picture above of Phil, Rodney and I was taken Chicago O'Hare Airport in 2003 right before we left the country for Paraguay. This is a special memory for me since he was the last person we saw before we moved out of the country.)

6 comments:

Ben Moore said...

Gina:

I wholeheartedly agree with yours and your husband's assessment of Phil as a Godly man and a saint. I am one of Phil's friends and floor-mates from Moody. I was shocked to learn the news from a fellow friend from Moody today, and decided to google Phil's name after reading his wife's blog. I found your blog and appreciated it immensely.

I have not had the pleasure of meeting his wife and child, but my heart hurts for them. I pray for them. Phil was an encouragement to me on so many occassions and I always respected his love for Christ, his love for the lost and his faithfulness to obey Christ no matter the cost. Phil and I mentored inner-city kids from Chicago together and we would often take our "little-brothers" out for pizza and other activities together. Those kids loved and respected Phil. I wish I kept in contact with them to let them know of Phil going to be with Jesus.

Phil made all of the guys on the Culby-10 (our dorm floor) laugh so much and had a heart that was genuine and sincere. I look forward to the day I can worship Christ face to face with Phil. God bless you both.

Ben Moore

BenjaminCMoore78@juno.com

Laura Jane said...

I echo what Ben and Gina said. Phil was by far one of my favorite people at Moody. He was constantly challenging me in my faith, and at the same time loved to have a good time.

Some of my favorite memories of Phil are of him dressing up as Butch the homeless man, or putting vaseline under the door handle and steering wheel of my car. But my all time favorite memory is when he got me to go to Brooks Brothers on Michigan Avenue with him. He put a small water balloon in his pocket. Then proceeded to pop it making all the sales people that were around think he had peed his pants. All the while he was yelling at me in a Scotish accent that I had kept him from finding a bathroom.

Phil loved people... whether it was his little brother from Cabrini, kids from his youth group, or his friends and family. I still remember when he found out that my plans for Thanksgiving had fallen through and he on-the-spot invited me to McPherson, KS to spend it with his family.

My prayers are with his parents and wife and daughter. I so hope that his little girl knows that her dad was a man after God's own heart. I feel so blessed to have been able to call him a friend.

Lizzie said...

The Nelsons are praying for Anna and Esther. And we love you all too...So sorry.

Sara Luke said...

I think I remember meeting him once back in college . . . I'm so sorry for your loss and I'm praying for you guys and his family tonight.

psdonnell said...

i knew phil through rodney. while my interactions with him were short and sporadic at best, i knew any friend of rodney's is a friend of mine. that is why i mourn with him and all the loved ones touched by this godly man. in college some other friends of mine and i would come to chicago for the weekend. on one of those occasions we were walking along LSD when we ran into phil and rodney rollerblading. as i now live in chicago and run along LSD nearly everyday, i naturally use this time to empty my thoughts and pray for my friends and family. penner's, know a prayer is being lifted up for you each time i run along LSD.

The Stark Family said...

Wow, what a tragedy. We will keep you guys and his family in our prayers.