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‘So we added pie’

by Melinda Lantz | Mar 29, 2019

Posted March 29 - One of the joys of serving my alma mater as president is that I already know so many of our alumni, faculty, staff and friends. Some were my classmates at Manchester and some my teachers and mentors. Having grown up in North Manchester, I knew many from church and the community as well. It is a joy.

On some days, though, when we lose friends and colleagues, those tight connections compound grief. Just this week, I received news that Lisa Harshbarger passed away. She was a high school classmate and the daughter of Richard and Jane Harshbarger. Dick taught economics here for many years and was my academic advisor at Manchester. Hers was a loss close to home. Also this week, Cathy Mishler Gillam passed away. She was a college classmate and sang in the A Capella Choir with Renée. She was also the sister of Rick Mishler, a current trustee who has become a friend during his service on the board. Both battled illness and died far too young.

I was reminded during Cathy’s memorial service that the connections that compound grief also help us carry it. Chris Gillam, Cathy’s husband and also a graduate, spoke of the community that surrounded his family during her illness. “We can’t repay the kindness you’ve shown us,” he said. “I know that the ham sandwiches we’ll be serving after the service won’t be enough.” He paused. “So we’ve added pie.” It brought a church full of tears to laughter.

Pie is what we gain from community, from family. The Manchester family extends far beyond northeast Indiana. When any one of us loses someone, when we individually or collectively are struggling, when we long together for a more just and peaceful world, we are community. We hold one another close and we bring pie.