Chippewa Herald * July 26, 2009     Hit Counter by Digits

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Stan Williams used his music to help others

by Tom Arneberg, Community Columnist

It's been said that the true measure of a man is the number of people who attend his funeral. You've all heard stories of rich and powerful men who had everything money could buy...except friends.

Well, the music-filled funeral Wednesday for Stan Williams was the biggest and best funeral I have ever been to. The church was packed to the brim, with overflow seating and standing room only. There had to be at least 500 people. It is a testimony of how many lives he touched.

Most readers will know Stan as a charismatic soccer coach: He's had great seasons leading both the boys' and girls' teams at Chi-Hi, along with several Strikers teams, and even the UW-Eau Claire Bluegolds. His soccer players served as pall bearers.

He was also a consummate golfer, as evidenced by all the stories told during the open mike time at the visitation Tuesday night.

But in our church, he was most known as a singer. Stan had a powerful voice and was not afraid to use it. His goal was always to reach someone with his music.

The Sunday before his untimely death, he was doing just that. One of his soccer players, Zach Lato, tragically lost his life in a diving accident in June. Always the comforter, Stan spent a lot of time with Zach's family in the days and weeks following.

In fact, Stan was golfing with Pete Lato, Zach's dad, last Saturday when he drove himself to St. Joseph's with chest pains. Pete had only known Stan for seven weeks, but he told me that it seemed like they had known each other their whole lives, and he can't imagine not having gotten to know Stan.

On Sunday, July 12, Stan had a special song that he wanted to sing in church specifically for the Lato family. They weren't even members of our church, but that didn't stop Stan. He invited them and sang the following song for them:


"Cry Out To Jesus" by Third Day

To everyone who's lost someone they love
Long before it was their time,
You feel like the days you had were not enough
when you said goodbye.

And to all of the people with burdens and pains
Keeping you back from your life,
You believe that there's nothing and there is no one
Who can make it right.

There is hope for the helpless,
Rest for the weary,
Love for the broken heart.

There is grace and forgiveness,
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are.
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus.

For the marriage that's struggling just to hang on,
They lost all of their faith in love.
And they've done all they can to make it right again;
Still it's not enough.

For the ones who can't break the addictions and chains,
You try to give up but you come back again,
Just remember that you're not alone in your shame
And your suffering.

When you're lonely
And it feels like the whole world is falling on you, You just reach out, you just cry out to Jesus.
Cry to Jesus.

To the widow who suffers from being alone,
Wiping the tears from her eyes.
For the children around the world without a home
Say a prayer tonight.

Needless to say, it was an emotion-packed moment. Stan was always looking for ways he could minister to others. This same song took on new meaning a week later, as it was sung at Stan's funeral.

That was a new song in Stan's repertoire, but there are other songs he is well known for. The song that most often comes to mind when you picture Stan singing is "I Can Only Imagine," by a group called Mercy Me, that talks about the first moments after your earthly life is over:


"I Can Only Imagine" by Mercy Me

I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk
By your side

I can only imagine
What my eyes will see When your face
Is before me
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When that day comes
And I find myself
Standing in the Son

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever
Forever worship You
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

This song, too, was sung at Stan's funeral -- and it gives comfort to all of us to know that Stan is now in God's presence. We are hoping that his dancing has improved a bit, since it looked pretty wacky here on earth.

Stan, we are going to miss you.

See photos and other memories of Stan online:

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