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Paul Sotherland Eulogy

Paul Sotherland Eulogy

(Excerpt from the eulogy read by Paul Sotherland, Associate Professor of Biology, Kalamazoo College, at the memorial service for Lillian B. Anderson held on 24 August, 2001).

Stewardship. That word, and its various connotations centered on responsible management of something entrusted to one's care, has been on my mind for some time now. Last week, when Dr. Jimmy Jones, President of Kalamazoo College, asked me to speak at this memorial service today on his behalf, and on behalf of everyone in the Kalamazoo College community, one of the reasons for those recurring thoughts immediately became clear. Lillian Anderson lived a life of stewardship. In addition, through stewardship of her gardens, her libraries, her land, and her many, many friends Lillian lived a life that, in my opinion, embodied the Kalamazoo College motto "Lux Esto" - be light.

Unlike many of you, I knew Lillian for a relatively short time, but during that time my family and I became friends with Lillian, and we, like many of you, frequently enjoyed Lillian's company while dining together, while discussing how her garden would be changed by "adding these geraniums" or "by removing those pesky weeds," and while walking, walking, walking. "I walk three miles a day," she reminded us. Lillian loved to walk. I first met Lillian four years ago when Nella Langeland brought her to have lunch with Jim Langeland and me to talk about Lillian's gift of land, her family's former farm in Oshtemo Township, to Kalamazoo College. Her land, of which we at the College are stewards - presently, and for generations to come - is now known as Lillian Anderson Arboretum and has many trails along which you can, as Emma Pitcher once wrote, "just walk for the joy of walking - to clear your head and find your soul on a bright morning or to relax on a quiet evening as dusk settles down."

Lillian was an inspiration without trying to be one; she simply was. The other day I saw a bumper sticker that read, "Be Green," entreating us to lead environmentally-aware lives. We are given no directions, no list of do's and don'ts; rather, all we see is a two-word motto by which to live. That bumper sticker reminded me of Lux Esto, and it reminded me of Lillian. There is apparently no record of what the authors of "Lux Esto" were thinking back in 1895 when they placed that motto beneath the emblem of a hand-held torch and created Kalamazoo College's seal. Lacking any historical record, we are free to surmise that the authors may have created their own "bumper sticker" of sorts, imploring those who read it, especially members of the Kalamazoo College community, to lead light-filled lives. Furthermore, given the time of the motto's origin, and given Kalamazoo College's then-strong ties to the American Baptist Church, it is not too difficult to extend our surmising to what the authors of "Lux Esto" probably considered the source of that light to be. Though present-day interpretations of that motto may have to be broadened to include more diverse perspectives on our relationships with the Divine, back then, the light, symbolized by the flame in the College's seal, was probably thought of as the light of the Holy Spirit. And so, Lux Esto simply told people to lead lives through which that light could shine. It was that life - a life filled with love of people, books, flowers, and land - that Lillian Anderson lived. Let us pray that we too may lead such lives and carry on where Lillian left off.