Of all the wonderful people in Port Hope, none were more important to me than Barney & Ann Schubring. Ann’s obituary beautifully captures her— https://www.ramseyfuneralhome.net/obituaries/Annabelle-Schubring/#!/Obituary —to which I add my remembrance.
Pastors have their first contact with their members at church. Mine with Barney & Ann began the day of my installation. And then every Sunday, because they were always in worship. And then every Wednesday, because they were always in Bible class.
After Barney died in 2009, Ann loved reminding me what Barney used to tell everyone. It was something my dad had told him on the day of my installation. Dad told Barney, “You’ll like Greg.” I loved my father for feeling that way, and Barney for sharing that all over the place and then going on about me, and Ann for uplifting me with it.
Ann’s faithfulness to the Lord was on display in her devotion to Barney after he suffered a stroke. That she plunged herself into serving Barney’s needs was no surprise. Ann’s faithfulness extended to all corners of her life.
In 2004, she phoned me. “Pastor, my brother had a stroke. He’s in serious condition. He’s never been baptized. I was wondering if you would visit him.” For the rest of that blessed story, click my retelling of it: My most unusual baptism.
Perhaps, Ann’s feistiness stems from her being one of fourteen children. If I recall correctly, she was the youngest of the bunch. Add to the Thrushman clan the nearby Heilig gang of twenty-one kids. No, there are no typos in this paragraph: on the same country mile were two families with a combined 35 children.
After Barney died, Ann had more time so, naturally, she took to Caribbean cruises and touring Europe. Nope. She poured herself into her house and yard. She developed the beautiful flower garden under their stand of trees, as seen in this photo. During the summer, I was a regular gawker.
What do folks typically do when the occupancy of their house goes from two to one? They add on! Ann told me, “People probably think I’m foolish for adding on to my house now that I’m all alone, but I’ve always wanted it and I can afford it.” She said that matter-of-factly. She finished with a bit of her feistiness: “If they don’t like it, tough.” She laughed. I joined her.
You ain’t heard feistiness yet. One time, Ann’s dog, Bob Barker (has there ever been a better-named dog?) had treed a raccoon. Bob was barking up a storm. Ann didn’t know what to do. Um, wait—she knew exactly what to do. I wonder if she said to herself, “Annie, get your gun,” because that’s what she did.
And the coon problem was taken care of.
How many times did Ann make cookies for Bible class? How many of her macaroons did I snarf down?
How did she have time to take care of Barney’s every need, make cookies and countless other recipes from scratch, and keep her house meticulously neat and clean?
Add to that list the mowing of their large yard.
And keeping herself always looking sharp. I think of her look as smart. Yeah, that word works—it nicely reflects her savvy.
If you knew her, you can add to this list. Have at it as I have a hankering to go whip up a batch of macaroons in Ann’s honor.
Julie and I twice enjoyed scrumptious homemade meals with Barney & Ann at their place. We were thankful for many in Port Hope with whom we enjoyed lovely friendships.
There was something extra with Barney & Ann and me. Over my thirteen years at St. John, I wonder how many times I stopped at their house.
This will sound odd, but I’m glad I was there when Barney fell. It was after Wednesday Bible class. They were moving through the doors of the narthex entrance. I was holding the next door open. Barney didn’t make it. I was pleased that I was there to help.
He admitted he wasn’t feeling well. This landed him in the hospital. He failed quickly.
These are the times a minister is especially pleased to know his people well. When I visited in Saginaw, the three of us enjoyed the intimacy of the love that had grown between us. My speaking God’s Word of grace in Christ to them was rich with His love shared among us. We lost Barney soon after that.
A couple of years later, Ann let me know of the untimely death of one of her brothers. I said, “I’ll come out.” “No, Pastor, I don’t feel like talking.”
Because of the depth of our relationship, I knew better. I grabbed my car keys and was there in five minutes.
After our hour in her living room, Ann smiled and admitted, “I guess I did feel like talking.”
Our chat didn’t solve anything, and yet it helped everything. And I was able to address Ann’s chief concerns.
This is what friends do. I did it with the Word of God. Ann did it with home-baked cookies and in a thousand different ways. We both did it in the love of our Lord Jesus.
And now she’s with Him. Alleluia! And so is Barney. Alleluia! And I can’t wait for the day when I too will see our Jesus and the friends I was blessed to serve in His name. Alleluia!