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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

In Loving Memory of Uncle Dana


Proverbs 10:7  The memory of the just is blessed…

My mom’s uncle, Dana Mathna, went to be with the Lord on January 19th at 92 years of age.  He was born April 2, 1921.  Unbeknownst to me, we shared a birthday, which is why I chose today to post my memorial of him.  He was married to Aunt Helen (my grandfather’s sister) for 67 years and was a member of the Shippensburg First Church of God for 69 years!  Those are amazing numbers in this day and age!  Uncle Dana was on the Church Council and also a custodian for his church for many years.

This is pretty much how I remember Uncle Dana.  We visited in their home several times, but the ones I remember were when I was in my teens.  I don’t remember him from when I was small.  They also paid a  visit later to my Gramma in Michigan and we saw them then as well.

I may not have all the details on these things exactly correct, but here are some things I recall.  (Maybe if any of the family read this they can help me out where I might be off.)

Uncle Dana was a bit of legend in our family.  He was known for the strong, strong coffee he liked.  My dad always said Uncle Dana would have a cup in the morning and then the pot sat on the back of the stove all day and got as thick as mud before he got home from work, at which time he drank some more.  I don’t how he slept, unless it was decaffeinated!  That looks like it could be a cup of that famous coffee at this elbow in this old photo! :-)

Uncle Dana was an only child and he told us that he didn’t want his own children to be as lonely as he was growing up so he thought when he got married he’d have 12 kids.  (An obvious solution to the problem, right?)   Aunt Helen was not that ambitious in the kids department so they compromised for 6, which God did grant them.  Only Randall died as a baby, but despite some serious handicaps he lived some months longer than the doctor expected.  It was attributed to the great love that was showered on him by the whole family (extant at that time).

My mom and her brother were in their wedding, pictured above.  My Gramma was also (right of bride), and possibly my Grandpa (second from left).  Aunt Helen was wearing my Gramma’s wedding dress. :-)

Great-grandma Hoover was already a widow at the time that Uncle Dana and Aunt Helen married.  She lived with them for several years in the old family home and then moved to an inexpensive apartment that their church had for widows. 

Uncle Dana and Aunt Helen with their two oldest kids.

The three youngsters that came along later.  (I don’t know where Randall fit in.)

Uncle Dana loved kids.  I remember him as always being interested in us and what we were doing.  He talked to us like he really cared, and that’s something kids don’t forget.  He was known for handing out candy to kids of all ages at church on Sundays. :-)

Another great story from his life is about his smoking habit.  He smoked for years I guess.  It got so bad that he was smoking a pack a day, if I remember correctly.  At some point he just came to grips with what he was doing to his health and the money he was wasting.  I suppose he was thinking about how he might be shortening his time here on earth with Aunt Helen.  At that point he determined that he was going to stop smoking and set aside that money (a pack a day!) to take his wife on trips, and he did.  They took quite a few bus tours with groups from their church.  I think he also sent Aunt Helen to England and Prince Edward Island (with their daughter) so that she could see those places in which she had a special interest.

Of course, the greatest story of Uncle Dana’s life is that he was born again and loved the Lord – and that he acted upon that love in so many ways throughout his life.  I am sure that many lives have been touched by his kindness and helpfulness.  Whether we live a long or relatively short life, these are the things that count.  Our efforts will always be imperfect, but the question is, will people remember us for our faithfulness in following the Lord and pointing others toward Him?

Hebrews 13:7  Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

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