The world has lost a good man as my old friend and mentor, Bob Centamore, was called home to the Lord on May 31st. He was 76. I’ve rarely seen Bob since he and his wife Margaret retired to North Carolina. Although he and I were linked on FacePalm™, we hadn’t had much interaction since he moved south. Yet I am deeply saddened by his passing, even while having every confidence in the sure hope of Bob’s eternal life with God in Christ. I am of course hardly unaware of the frailty and fleeting nature of our earthly existence, but it’s still hard to accept.
My father counted Bob among his good friends, long before I had that honor. He was loved by three generations of Gillises. It would be difficult for me to exaggerate Bob’s influence on me as a Christian man. From the time I was a teenager, Bob modeled for me “the real deal” of what it means to be a Christian man. He would reach out to me with genuine interest and concern about the matters that mattered most, those matters that most people avoid in conversation for the sake of not upsetting the apple cart, but which Bob rightly understood to be at the crux of a person’s own existential status. Bob’s intense and genuine interest in the condition of the deep reaches of my soul, and his unabashed piety and love for God, provided me a window into a serious, meaning-drenched reality that transcended the superficialities of the so-called civilized world I was chafing against in my adolescence. What could matter more, in the final analysis?
Some of the more endearing memories of Bob in my life are of evenings spent debating issues during – or often after – the Little Rock Bible Study sessions held at his house during the early 1990s, when I was in my early 30s, and newly returned to the bosom of the Church. I can say now that Bob was right the majority of the time when we disagreed during those sessions, and I regret never finding the opportunity to tell him that I’d come to realize that. In retrospect, what stands out to me is Bob’s unflinching charity in those encounters, and his trust both that the Holy Spirit would always keep the ship afloat, and that the truth would always prevail. His faithfulness rubbed off on me over time, because I, too, came to understand that faith, which is the fountain of hope, is predicated upon a deep and abiding trust in God. I owe that knowledge and the peace that flows from it, in part, to Bob.
Rest in the peace of Christ, my old friend. May he richly reward your faithfulness and good works.
[Photos taken from Bob’s FacePalm™ page.]