OBITUARY

Gary Reed Christman

January 18, 1949August 31, 2018
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A great man is always willing to be little." ~ Ralph Waldo Emmerson

We often measure the influence of men by stature, by wealth, by influence, by success, but none of these features are permanent or meaningful. The measure of a man, especially of a father by his son, is the core of his character, that foundation that tethers him to who he really is, especially when the world buckles and bends below him. Every man will see struggle and ailment, every man will have flaw and failure; in it all the purity of his center is revealed as unchanging. My dad lived through an abundance of hardship and restraint through an ailing body and clouded mind but in it all one thing always shined through, the heart of a man who cared for others over his self. A lesson of humility and heartfulness that went brilliantly unsaid and yet was undeniably told. A beautiful trait that felt hereditarily shared but that the clarity of age and life would reveal as a reflection of the nature of who my dad really was. A component of who I strive to be and what I hope honors the best of him.

Gary’s journey in life has several twists and turns, some known, some unknown. Born in Lehighton, PA and spending much of his very young life around his cousins and among the loving care and protective nurturing of his mother and grandparents, most notably his grandmother. The bond between my father and his grandmother was undeniable and I believe it was likely her nature and love that built many of his most positive and enduring traits. A reunion among our most loved that I’m sure gave much peace and joy to them both.

In his teenage years, then in Bridgewater-Raritan, NJ, my father grew into a young man of tough resolve and light-hearted ease. My father loved sports and played on countless teams. In the years of baseball and football, he was never noted for his stature or physical prowess, nevertheless his speed and tenacity earned him notice and the moniker “Flea”. One of the things that remains constant through my father’s life, in the good and bad, is that he could adapt comfortably to almost any group. Often the “odd man out” in crowds, and yet, he always earned the respect and acceptance of those around him simply by his nature. It was this feeling of “always willing to be little”; that he always approached others from a place of esteem and regard without judgement or bias. He had a manner that made you feel important and noticed. His yearbooks are filled with evidence of a young man who also had a lively humor and an effortlessness to making meaningful connections.

As my father grew into his adulthood and into his own family, much of that jovial extraversion turned inward. Gary always had a deep and careful thoughtfulness, a connection to figures and introspection. This nature was his greatest strength and sometimes his greatest enemy. Such was his care for thinking through his feelings, words, self-worth and affect that in his future hardships some of these things would well consume him. It wasn’t until much later that I understood this was because of my father’s great love and affection for others and not in spite of it. When you measure against the foundational heart of my father, as he grew, you can realize what a deeply loving man he was.

My father lived through the next years between Florida among his parents, brother and extended family in New Jersey where he attempted to make a life for himself. He never had much, but naturally found his way to show his care for others, from working as a crossing guard with local school children to supporting the businesses and offices of his local pastor. While unfortunately having to endure a body that was less than he deserved, and devoid of much possession, you see a pattern of his willingness to give whatever he had to another person in need without prompt or circumstance.

Gary had a knack for taking the little he had, in words or means, and making those around him feel respected and worthful. Whether he realize it or not at the time he was living out the definition of love God laid out in Philippians 2: 3- 4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” He thought others above himself and therefor held an air devoid of judgement. Even in the most difficult of situations and in the harshest of communities, he held those around him as meaningful and important sometimes being the only ear who would listen, offering respect to the rejected and value to the forgotten.

My dad, through his life, lived in some pretty difficult environments, ones that even the strongest of us would struggle with, and yet he endured and built connections and community with. In this manner his character was extraordinary. Don’t get me wrong, he had his edges, his dark days, and his frustrations, but as you survey his life you see that same tenacious yet humble spirit building bridges into people that were unexpected from his young days as the undersized football kid in high school. Its amazing how when you can finally step back and see the entirety of a life versus a single day, you get a clarity of vision to notice just how consistent the nature of someone’s character is. While it’s been difficult for me to face this task from the finality of my father’s earthly life, its also been a joyous discovery of how much of an incredible heart my father actually had. While I may have missed out on several years, as my father dealt through difficulties and disabilities, I really was incredibly grateful that God saw us fit to both end up in Tampa and to rebuild our bond.

For over the last decade I’ve seen my dad in the highs and lows, struggling with ailments physical and mental, but at the same time I’ve got to see the true him shine through as well. A man who loved to spend time retelling the best memories of his life, who had an amazing talent for remembering people and numbers, who was abundantly and wonderfully honest about his feelings and himself and who made it a point to share the most encouraging of words at his best. Some of my most cherished mementoes from him aren’t items, but his words. My father had a brilliant way with taking the simplest of words and making great impact. He would randomly write me letters of love and encouragement. It’s incredible that even to a 40-year-old man how impactful the simple phrase “I’m proud of you” can be and he was abundant with that in a way I could never thank him enough for. I just hope he knows how much that mattered to me and to the others he leant his words of praise.

One of the most difficult things to see, was not just the restraints of life that my father’s mental and physical health had on his ability to live a fulfilled life but was guilt that he professed to carry over the affect those ailments had on others. His life sacrificed much to these difficulties, but he also carried much of it as a weight that restricted the best of him from pushing forward. The capacity of his heart would often make it difficult for him to forgive himself of his life’s past. I just want him to know, as our lives continue there is no blame or fault only hope for him is to be able to rest in the forgiveness of a loving God that renews us each day. I’m incredibly thankful that he connected closely to that same loving God and found strength in faith in his final years. He was a greater example of God’s love in my life and others than he likely knew.

While I cannot express how I’ll miss him, I am abundantly thankful that in these last 6 years, he was able to build a relationship with my daughter and she could experience his love and encouragement. I was also able to share with him, in these last days before the Lord brought him home, a new pregnancy and another Christman on the way. A message that I believe helped him recover through his last hospital stay. A for us to share together before he felt ready to leave this diminished body behind for a heavenly one of glory.

My father’s legacy may not as overt as worldly treasures of stature and worth written into history books or memories, but they are powerful and lasting and a legacy of heart that I hope honors him within myself and my own family, one of love and encouragement without bias or judgement, of placing others above yourself, of being open and honest with our feelings, of having a clarity of judgement for our affect on others, and for showing care regardless of how little we feel we have. The selfless willingness to be “little”.

Dad, I love you always and miss you. Thank you for allowing us to know the heart of the real you and for imprinting on me many of those wonderful qualities. I hope to honor you with my life going forward. You will always have a place of honor at our new home and remain as a reminder to always give to others. God bless, and may you have peace, joy and the ability to run through the fields of Heaven as you’ve always dreamed of doing here again.

A great man is always willing to be little." ~ Ralph Waldo Emmerson

  • FAMILY

  • Adam Lengyel, Father
  • Gloria Christman, Mother
  • Jason (Tina) Christman, Son
  • Evelyna Christman, Granddaughter

Services

  • Celebration of Life Service Saturday, September 15, 2018
REMEMBERING

Gary Reed Christman

have a memory or condolence to add?

ADD A MEMORY
Lynn Brelsford Swallow

September 13, 2018

Dear Gary,

As your cousin, I remember when you lived in New Jersey and you joined the church of your choice. You had so many Christian brothers and sisters in Christ. I remember the phone calls and how excited you were to share all the things you learned. I love you and will miss you, but the great news is Matthew 11:28, "come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest". The Lord knew that you were weary and took you home with Him. Absent from body, present with the Lord. I am celebrating your life and look forward to seeing you again.

Love in Christ
Lynn Brelsford Swallow

Mary Parsons

September 12, 2018

Gary, I am sending all my love to you. Thinking back when you were a toddler living with your Grandparent's, Sarah and Abraham Christman. The love you had for each other was endless. As time passed, we grew up, but always kept in touch when ever you wanted information regarding a family member, I would receive a call and help you.

HEY, how about Green Bay and that quarterback, Aaron Rodgers ! What a team...….GO PACKERS ! We sure enjoyed football together.

As you are now in God's perfect peace, rejoice with Aunt Betty, Uncle Cam, Grammy, Daddy Abe and your Mom and Dad for such is the Kingdom of Heaven.

My darling cousin you will remain in my heart forever.


Karen Romaine Brelsford

Mary Parsons

September 12, 2018

Gary, I always loved you and will miss you so much. You were always a fun part of our family. Also, a smile on your face when you saw one of us ! I know you are with Our Lord in His Loving Arms, holding you close to Him. You are at peace forever. My tears are running down my face because I will miss you so much. Love you dearly and you will always be in my heart. Love you, Cuz.

Mary Brelsford Parsons
Troy Toth (second cousin)

Barb Cordle

September 7, 2018

now I'm crying. Just looking at all these wonderful pictures. May our loving father just scramble the family up in his arms and give them peace.

Barb Cordle

September 3, 2018

he was the first new friend I made when I moved into his nursing home. He made me feel welcome and we became Fast Friends he was so intelligent we could discuss anything I'll always remember how he loved Google we would look up all kinds of things together on Google and he would laugh we miss you here Gary but we know you are in a better place and you are well know that you were loved

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Biography

A great man is always willing to be little." ~ Ralph Waldo Emmerson

We often measure the influence of men by stature, by wealth, by influence, by success, but none of these features are permanent or meaningful. The measure of a man, especially of a father by his son, is the core of his character, that foundation that tethers him to who he really is, especially when the world buckles and bends below him. Every man will see struggle and ailment, every man will have flaw and failure; in it all the purity of his center is revealed as unchanging. My dad lived through an abundance of hardship and restraint through an ailing body and clouded mind but in it all one thing always shined through, the heart of a man who cared for others over his self. A lesson of humility and heartfulness that went brilliantly unsaid and yet was undeniably told. A beautiful trait that felt hereditarily shared but that the clarity of age and life would reveal as a reflection of the nature of who my dad really was. A component of who I strive to be and what I hope honors the best of him.

Gary’s journey in life has several twists and turns, some known, some unknown. Born in Lehighton, PA and spending much of his very young life around his cousins and among the loving care and protective nurturing of his mother and grandparents, most notably his grandmother. The bond between my father and his grandmother was undeniable and I believe it was likely her nature and love that built many of his most positive and enduring traits. A reunion among our most loved that I’m sure gave much peace and joy to them both.

In his teenage years, then in Bridgewater-Raritan, NJ, my father grew into a young man of tough resolve and light-hearted ease. My father loved sports and played on countless teams. In the years of baseball and football, he was never noted for his stature or physical prowess, nevertheless his speed and tenacity earned him notice and the moniker “Flea”. One of the things that remains constant through my father’s life, in the good and bad, is that he could adapt comfortably to almost any group. Often the “odd man out” in crowds, and yet, he always earned the respect and acceptance of those around him simply by his nature. It was this feeling of “always willing to be little”; that he always approached others from a place of esteem and regard without judgement or bias. He had a manner that made you feel important and noticed. His yearbooks are filled with evidence of a young man who also had a lively humor and an effortlessness to making meaningful connections.

As my father grew into his adulthood and into his own family, much of that jovial extraversion turned inward. Gary always had a deep and careful thoughtfulness, a connection to figures and introspection. This nature was his greatest strength and sometimes his greatest enemy. Such was his care for thinking through his feelings, words, self-worth and affect that in his future hardships some of these things would well consume him. It wasn’t until much later that I understood this was because of my father’s great love and affection for others and not in spite of it. When you measure against the foundational heart of my father, as he grew, you can realize what a deeply loving man he was.

My father lived through the next years between Florida among his parents, brother and extended family in New Jersey where he attempted to make a life for himself. He never had much, but naturally found his way to show his care for others, from working as a crossing guard with local school children to supporting the businesses and offices of his local pastor. While unfortunately having to endure a body that was less than he deserved, and devoid of much possession, you see a pattern of his willingness to give whatever he had to another person in need without prompt or circumstance.

Gary had a knack for taking the little he had, in words or means, and making those around him feel respected and worthful. Whether he realize it or not at the time he was living out the definition of love God laid out in Philippians 2: 3- 4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” He thought others above himself and therefor held an air devoid of judgement. Even in the most difficult of situations and in the harshest of communities, he held those around him as meaningful and important sometimes being the only ear who would listen, offering respect to the rejected and value to the forgotten.

My dad, through his life, lived in some pretty difficult environments, ones that even the strongest of us would struggle with, and yet he endured and built connections and community with. In this manner his character was extraordinary. Don’t get me wrong, he had his edges, his dark days, and his frustrations, but as you survey his life you see that same tenacious yet humble spirit building bridges into people that were unexpected from his young days as the undersized football kid in high school.
Its amazing how when you can finally step back and see the entirety of a life versus a single day, you get a clarity of vision to notice just how consistent the nature of someone’s character is. While it’s been difficult for me to face this task from the finality of my father’s earthly life, its also been a joyous discovery of how much of an incredible heart my father actually had. While I may have missed out on several years, as my father dealt through difficulties and disabilities, I really was incredibly grateful that God saw us fit to both end up in Tampa and to rebuild our bond.

For over the last decade I’ve seen my dad in the highs and lows, struggling with ailments physical and mental, but at the same time I’ve got to see the true him shine through as well. A man who loved to spend time retelling the best memories of his life, who had an amazing talent for remembering people and numbers, who was abundantly and wonderfully honest about his feelings and himself and who made it a point to share the most encouraging of words at his best.
Some of my most cherished mementoes from him aren’t items, but his words. My father had a brilliant way with taking the simplest of words and making great impact. He would randomly write me letters of love and encouragement. It’s incredible that even to a 40-year-old man how impactful the simple phrase “I’m proud of you” can be and he was abundant with that in a way I could never thank him enough for. I just hope he knows how much that mattered to me and to the others he leant his words of praise.

One of the most difficult things to see, was not just the restraints of life that my father’s mental and physical health had on his ability to live a fulfilled life but was guilt that he professed to carry over the affect those ailments had on others. His life sacrificed much to these difficulties, but he also carried much of it as a weight that restricted the best of him from pushing forward. The capacity of his heart would often make it difficult for him to forgive himself of his life’s past. I just want him to know, as our lives continue there is no blame or fault only hope for him is to be able to rest in the forgiveness of a loving God that renews us each day. I’m incredibly thankful that he connected closely to that same loving God and found strength in faith in his final years. He was a greater example of God’s love in my life and others than he likely knew.

While I cannot express how I’ll miss him, I am abundantly thankful that in these last 6 years, he was able to build a relationship with my daughter and she could experience his love and encouragement. I was also able to share with him, in these last days before the Lord brought him home, a new pregnancy and another Christman on the way. A message that I believe helped him recover through his last hospital stay. A for us to share together before he felt ready to leave this diminished body behind for a heavenly one of glory.

My father’s legacy may not as overt as worldly treasures of stature and worth written into history books or memories, but they are powerful and lasting and a legacy of heart that I hope honors him within myself and my own family, one of love and encouragement without bias or judgement, of placing others above yourself, of being open and honest with our feelings, of having a clarity of judgement for our affect on others, and for showing care regardless of how little we feel we have. The selfless willingness to be “little”.

Dad, I love you always and miss you. Thank you for allowing us to know the heart of the real you and for imprinting on me many of those wonderful qualities. I hope to honor you with my life going forward. You will always have a place of honor at our new home and remain as a reminder to always give to others. God bless, and may you have peace, joy and the ability to run through the fields of Heaven as you’ve always dreamed of doing here again.

A great man is always willing to be little." ~ Ralph Waldo Emmerson