Pastor Paul Strand has met a lot of people in his life.
But in the 35 years he has served as a clergyman, the Trinity Lutheran Church pastor said Monday to people who knew Bruce Scheidegger that he doesn’t often meet kind people.
Scheidegger, on the other hand, was more than just kind.
“All I have heard in the past week, and overheard, is he was such a kind man,” Strand continued. “He was such a generous man. He was such a helpful man. The greatest compliment Bruce ever received is that.”
Scheidegger, 54, died between Feb. 9 and 10 in Carroll County in a car accident. A memorial service was held in his honor at Trinity on Monday, following a tribute to the beloved Carl Sandburg High School athletic director at the school on Sunday.
Similar to the several speakers at Sandburg’s tribute, Strand knew Scheidegger well, noting frequently throughout his eulogy the exact seat he and his wife Deb Scheidegger would sit every Sunday.
Strand also shared the struggles he faced when his son Jonathan died of a brain tumor at age 24. With the aid of scripture passages, he described how a deceased loved one stays with those who remember him or her.
“A morning at a time, an afternoon at a time,” Strand said. “An evening at a time.”
Strand also described the impact Scheidegger had, given both the nature of his work as an athletic director, but also his unique approach to the job.
“You touch hundreds, maybe thousands of lives,” Strand said about educators and others in similar professions. “That’s what Bruce did.”
Sherry Haijenga, Scheidegger’s sister, described her memories of growing up with Bruce in Chadwick, Ill., a town of about 550 people in Carroll County.
“He was younger than me, but he always seemed like my older brother,” Haijenga said. “He was always there for me and I appreciate that.”
Bruce’s and Sherry’s father Charles built a pitching mound in their backyard to help teach Bruce how to pitch, serving as catcher as he learned the game. Bruce enjoyed getting Ron Santo pizza during visits to Wrigley Field for games, and was a fan of the Three Stooges while growing up, Haijenga said.
Early on, Bruce was eager to help others, such as a time when their grandmother fell down a few basement steps and he ran to the top of the stairs to check on her, she said.
“My grandmother told that story for years because she was so impressed that he was concerned about her, and a little guy that he was, he thought he could help her,” Haijenga said.
The tremendous outpouring of support to Scheideggger’s family from the many different people he affected heightened her already high opinion of her brother, Haijenga said.
“The love, respect and honor shown from Bruce’s friends, his peers, his co-workers and the communities that he touched, the students he taught, have made me even more proud of him than I ever thought was possible," Haijenga said.
Read our recent articles about Scheidegger.
- Bruce's Dash: Celebrating Scheidegger's Enthusiasm and Compassion (Video)
- Remembering Bruce Scheidegger
- Watch: Moment of Silence for Bruce Scheidegger
- UPDATED: Sandburg Athletic Director Bruce Scheidegger Dies in Car Accident
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