Howard Edmund Wile: The Man Who Showed Me How to Live

My dad on a cruise ship, where he loved to feel the rolling deck under his feet.

My dad on a cruise ship, where he loved to feel the rolling deck under his feet.

What does it mean to be a father? When my wife and I adopted our only child, I thought a lot about that question. I came up with various answers, none of which were really satisfactory. However, something happened on Tuesday night that put it all into focus for me: my own father passed into the arms of his Savior. The event wasn’t a surprise. From the time I was in high school, my dad had severe health issues. However, over the past year and a half, his health deteriorated severely. More than a week ago, he stopped getting out of bed. A few days ago, he stopped eating. We all had time to prepare for the inevitable.

Of course, when the inevitable actually occurs, you find you aren’t prepared for it at all. The reality is that even when a person is bedridden and hardly able to muster the energy to speak with you, he is still there. When he dies, he is no longer there. He is simply gone, and there is no way to prepare oneself for that. Because of this gaping hole left in your world, you are forced to think about things differently. As a result, I think I have finally come up with the answer to my question.

While writing his obituary, I was forced to think about who my dad was. He was a sailor, having defended freedom in World War II and the Korean War. He was a part of the criminal justice system. He was a tireless volunteer for the Republican party, his church, and many community organizations. But of course, to me, he was much more than that. He was my dad. And he was really, really good at it.

What made him good at it? I thought about that question for a long, long time, and suddenly, a quote popped into my head. It was from a book on parenting I had read while we were in the process of adopting our daughter. The book itself was so unremarkable that I don’t remember its title. Perhaps because it was in such an unremarkable book, the quote meant little to me at the time. However, in the light of thinking about my own father’s life, its profound truth struck me. With a little help from Google, I got the actual quote as well as its source. When speaking of his own father, Clarence Budington Kelland said:

He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.

In a nutshell, that’s why my dad was such a good father. He showed me, on a daily basis, how a Christian man should live. He demonstrated to me how a man cares for his family, how a man prioritizes his life, and how a man deals with those who are less fortunate than himself.

Howard Edmund Wile showed me how to live. When I see him in heaven, the first thing I am going to do is thank him for that.

13 Comments

  1. Sj says:

    Please accept my sympathies, Dr. Wile–my thanks go to your father for his influence on your life, and by extension, on the lives of all of us who have benefited from your work.

  2. PJ says:

    Thank you for this. My grandpa recently passed away, and while I don’t think he was saved, he taught me so much too. I just want you to know that this post touched me.

  3. Cara Paasch says:

    Prayers for comfort for you and all those who loved your dad. Praise God for such a wonderful dad and for the certainty of seeing him again in heaven!

  4. Haven says:

    I am so sorry for your loss Dr.Wile. My grandfather recently went to be with the Lord as well (: It’s always hard to lose someone you love.

  5. Sarah Knowles says:

    Your dad is, was, and will be forever proud of you and the man you’ve become. Your dad touched so many lives in so many ways. Blessed is an understatement to those who were fortunate to know Howard. I know Mom and Dad thought so much of him. I hope he sees Mom. They will be great friends and wait for JoAnn and Dad. You and your family are in my heartfelt prayers. Your tribute is one that truly shows the love, admiration, respect, and Godly ways your father displayed. Much love, huge hugs, and many blessings to you and your family.

  6. GRJean says:

    Dr. Wile, I would like to offer my condolences on the death of your father; he seems like a remarkable man. After my father’s death in August, I spent a long time reflecting on how complex and compelling even a simple man’s life can be—all the things he liked and loved, all his interactions, all the things he was involved and did, etc. It’s wonderful that your father left you such a legacy.
    May the God of all comfort, comfort your heart at this time.

  7. John D. says:

    His life continues to bless others through you Dr. Wile. How proud he must be.

  8. Becca says:

    I am sorry for the loss of your dad, Dr. Wile. We all have reason to be thankful for his life. He, through you, has affected the lives of countless parents and students through your books.

  9. Anthea says:

    My condolences to you an your family. How wonderful that your father left you a worthy heritage and precious memories.

  10. Bill McClymonds says:

    Please accept my condolences for your loss Dr. Jay. I am a person who also was raised by a good Christian father. After hearing stories like your daughter’s, and talking with so many others who did not have the opportunity to be raised by a good father, I feel extremely blessed that God allowed me that experience.

    Because your father was a Christian, you also have the comfort of knowing where you both will spend eternity. As a person who is currently going through the grief process after the death of my wife in June, I know great comfort comes from knowing the eternal destiny of a loved one when that destiny is with the Lord.

    May God Bless you and your family.

  11. Jonathan Sarfati says:

    Very sorry to hear that 🙁

  12. Joe Todd says:

    Thank you for posting about your dad. Our Lord chooses to reveal Himself through the Bible and through the lives of those who walk faithfully with Him. I’m glad that your dad was a good example of a loving father, and, by extension, a good reflection of our faithful Savior.

    That hope of seeing your dad again is clearly bringing you comfort at this time (1 Thes 4:13-17).

    “Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright; for there is a future for the man of peace.” –Ps 37:37

  13. Hapeebizeebeez says:

    Gosh, Dr. Wile!!! You are the best teacher in the world! I’m 15 and I did your Advanced Physics, Advanced Chemistry, Human Body, Biology, General Science, Physical Science, Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Exploring Creation with Physics….. OWO!!!
    I can SERIOUSLY say that those were the BEST textbooks I have ever done in my entire life and I just wanna say thanks and God BLESS YOU!!! Jesus has helped me with my studies and I think you are a instrument of God sent to help homeschooling students! Your textbooks really made a BIG difference in my life. (>^_^)><(^_^<)
    <3<3<3<3 :3:3:3 You are the BEST, and I thank God for sending a miracle teacher like U! ^_^