She was a Carlton College graduate and he was Chief Justice of the North Dakota Supreme Court. Alvin C. Strutz and his wife, Vee, were members of the Calvary E. U. B. Church (Evangelical United Brethren) in Bismarck, North Dakota where my family attended when I was a young boy. I knew the pew in which they sat every Sunday. I loved Mrs. Strutz because she was always extremely gentle and kind to me, even knowing I was the unholy terror of the church. They were friends to my parents and my memories of them rest fondly.

Their son, Bill Strutz taught Pam’s and my Sunday School class when I was the Director of Youth at what had become First United Methodist Church (This when the Methodists merged with the EUB denomination). My father and his brother built this new church. Bill was a well-known attorney defending doctors in malpractice cases. Both he and his lovely wife Marilyn are avid readers and a two story library is the centerpiece of their home. Marilyn is a mentor and caring friend to many, and when our Sarah was born, the first home she came to after her own, was Bill and Marilyn’s. When I was attending high school, she was a substitute teacher for me from time to time.

The next generation was Bill and Marilyn‘s daughter, Heidi, with brothers Nat Paul and Colin. Heidi was one of my kids in the youth group at our church. She married a fine man, Brad Mitchell, who is a pastor. They have a ministry called Build Your Marriage.

Finally, Heidi and Brad’s daughter, Rachael, came to Nashville to find work in the music business. That was when our lives intersected. She found a good job and married her husband, Cole Hession soon after attending a course in music industry studies. I played piano and my cello at their wedding. We proudly are considered their Nashville grandparents.

It is a lifetime of rich family kinship we share. Every time we are in North Dakota, we stay with Bill and Marilyn. From invigorating evening conversations of faith and life to morning prayer and scripture on their back porch…or what I call “Mornings with Marilyn”…our time together is beyond description. I have no deeper ties than with this family, reaching back generations.

The most beautiful things are not associated with money; they are memories and moments. If you don’t celebrate those, they can pass you by. (Alek Wek)


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