I lost a friend last week.
I hadn’t seen or spoken with Paul Monroe Young in over 25 years, yet news of his death deeply saddened me. Beyond the realization that I, too, am at an age when such a thing can happen out of nowhere, upon reading the news of Paul’s death I was rushed back to the mid 80s when PMY and I met.
We were, and are, both members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. We both pledged as upperclassmen, and both graduated early, thus shortening our time as active brothers.
Paul pledged a year ahead of me, and graduated a year ahead of me. Therefore, my pledge semester was his final semester. Neither of us were, I came to learn, stereotypical frat members. For me, this was because I had entered college a fundamentalist, and was still, as a junior, far from a party animal.
But this was not a stereotypical fraternity chapter, either. It was a collection of men who were committed to being, and learning to be better, brothers to one another.
Paul took me under his wing without actually taking me under his wing. We shared some time, though not a lot, talking about brotherhood and life and especially life beyond Southwestern. He was, I believe, already engaged to Wanda, and knew fairly clearly what direction his life would take.
I was fairly clear only on being called to ministry. I had no idea what direction my life would take.
Paul was an English major. I took the minimum required 3 hours of Comp and got out of the department. Yet I learned from Paul that semester a deep appreciation for thought and message and direction.
While it would not be fair to say that Paul and I were really close, I learned from him and his wisdom. He was one who has influenced my understanding of people and relationships, and thus the work I do in ministry.
Thank you, Paul.