Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

Bonnie Wiggins Memorial Service

December 6:

Memorial Sermon - Bonnie Miller Wiggins
DOB: 8/16/1941    DOD: 12/3/2013 DOMS: 12/6/2013

Did you hear the one
about the guy who walked into a piano bar?

That     sounds like the first line of a joke.

But it isn't.

For as much as I believe that chuckles and laughter
can help us deal with the pain, grief, and loss
that so powerfully bring us together this afternoon
it just wouldn't seem right to begin with a joke.

And so,
The one about the guy who walked into a piano bar
   Marks not the beginning of a joke
   But rather the beginning of a partnership

The partnership that began when the guy walked into the piano bar
lasted nearly a half century
It was a partnership built on love, admiration, and respect

And it was a partnership in which the partners not only enriched the lives of each other
   But together enriched the lives of those around them
      - Their friends and colleagues, of course -
      But also people whom they did not even know.

The man who walked into that Los Angeles piano bar
   Was Tom Wiggins, a young engineer, who grew up in Herkimer County, NY

And the woman he met and somehow began to sing with
   Was Bonnie Miller
      A Los Angeles native
         With two degrees in math from UCLA
         A member of MENSA
         Daughter of the man who built
the stair case for "The Sound of Music"
         And the only woman whom he ever met
whose birth was announced to the world
by Louella Parsons in her nationally known gossip column

[It wasn't that Bonnie's birth was gossip.
   It was simply that her mother
was Ms. Parsons' personal secretary)

When the two of them started to sing together that night
neither had any idea
that their lives would have an impact
on the lives of many people in a community
some 3,000 geographic miles from Los Angeles
and even more miles away
in terms of lifestyle and weather

But they did recognize the spark between them.
And they knew that meant that something special was about to happen.

As they got to know each other, Tom began to understand
What Bonnie's boss at a high tech California company meant
   When he described her

[the only woman among his otherwise all male employees]

When he described her
   [and here in the pulpit, I need to be somewhat sensitive in my paraphrase of his exact words)

When he described her
as:   the only one in the company who had any
   "a plural item of anatomy with which women are not biologically gifted."

No one who got to know
our outspoken, direct, and at times, sharp tongued Bonnie
during her 23 years in the North Country
needs to have that explained or interpreted.

But, speaking of anatomy, he could also have added
   That she had a big, big heart.
That heart was big because it was filled with love
   And with compassion for those less fortunate than she.

Her first winter in St. Lawrence County
   The temperature virtually never got above freezing
   And more than once she asked Tom,
      "Where   have you brought me?"

But it didn't take long
for her to adapt to  and to adopt   her new community.

She became a Kiwanian
She began to work with the Holiday fund
   (which, if I am correct, was at that time, a part of the Neighborhood Center)

For the first few years the Wiggins were here
   His work hours and her community involvement
made Tom think
that he had acquired a new 14 letter last name
   Because so often people called him
      "Tom Bonnieshusband"

In this church,
   She helped with summer services
      At least once persuading others to take on the role of Biblical women
   She edited the newsletter and the 1995 church cookbook
   She directed the Turkey Dinner

And she served even on short notice
   Like that morning when Sam Davis, then pastor of the church, called her at 4:00 AM
      And talked her into making breakfast for a dozen college students whose apartment building had caught on fire during the night.

Jesus Christ told us that we are to love God and that to do so, we have to love our neighbor as ourselves.

And he described judgment day as a day of separating the sheep from the goats,
       He did so in this passage from Matthew's gospel: [25: 31-40]

One only needs to look at her work with the Potsdam Holiday Fund
   To know that Bonnie Wiggins was a sheep
      Who provided for Christ By providing for others.

In the decade and a half between 1994 and 2009 she and Tom
were the "first"
among the many dedicated and caring persons
who gave of themselves to this remarkable ministry
and did their best to see that Christmas would come to every child
During their stewardship
   The ministry grew several fold
It was their life
It was their family.

I was talking with a parishioner the other evening
   And she gave me a lasting image of this woman whose death
      But even more so, whose life
   Has brought us together today.

She told me that the very first time she laid eyes on her,
   Bonnie was carrying     a Christmas gift for a child.
After six and a half years of knowing her,
I was not at all surprised

But Bonnie - again with Tom - has given us
Another image that will remain with us long after today

It is the image of a couple who together showed us
That a marriage built on love and respect
can be a wonderful thing
   Even when two people are from very different backgrounds

One of the ways that God has been good to us
   Is by placing us where
      We got to know and observe Bonnie Wiggins
      And we got to share her life and call her our friend.

That gift makes us smile - even in our pain, grief, and loss

And that gift makes us aware
That Nelson Mandela is not the only reason
   That Heaven got even more interesting this week.