On April 7, 2017, we lost a dear man and good friend, Eric Landoll. The day of his memorial service contained some irony. On the one hand, it is not common, and certainly not fun, to reflect on a life that ended too soon. 48 years old is young by most standards. I’m sure you agree. On the other hand, nearly 300 guests gathered at his service to remember a young man who was loved and who loved many. It was a blessing to have known this quiet soul who would be the first to say hello; the first to ask how you were doing; and the first to greet you with a smile.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 states, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven– A time to give birth, and a time to die… .” These words might give you the impression that death is something natural, just because it is expected. After all, the Scripture attributes a time for “…everything under heaven.” There is a certain inevitability associated with death. But it is never to be thought of natural in the purest sense.
Death entered our world for a reason. That reason is due to the presence of sin. Humankind was the crown of God’s creation; made in God’s image with a mind, will and emotions. And yet, he fell. Our first parents disobeyed God and offended Him. Their rebellion against God brought a sentence of death for everyone (Romans 5:12). All people die because all sin. We are told in Hebrews 9:27 that it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment…. Every human being has an appointment to appear before the sovereign God of the universe and give an account for his/her life. Although created by God and for God, you and I have offended God through our thoughts and our actions.
But as alarming as this situation may sound, it was for this reason that Jesus Christ came to this earth as God incarnate so many years ago. Christ died and rose again to abolish death for those who trust in Him. Note Christ’s words in John 11:25, I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Jesus makes the invitation to anyone: “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The rest that Jesus provides is soul rest, that comes from knowing Him, trusting Him and following Him.
The Christian possesses the sweet knowledge and anticipation of life after death, because Jesus arose from the dead. The Christian lives in this world knowing that his real home is not of this world. Rather God has prepared a place for him. Death is a transition from one state of life to another. Jesus said in John 14:1:
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
And, Paul wrote that when we are absent from the body, we are …at home with the Lord. This is good news for the Christian, especially when he finds himself in a world where there is so much death. So there is urgency for all to repent of their sins and place their trust in Jesus Christ, in order to possess heaven as their home.”
So how can you become a Christian and access this life that Jesus spoke so regularly of? There are two things necessary: repentance and faith. At the outset of His ministry, Jesus preached: “The time is fulfilled; the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.
Repentance means to change. It is implied in the act of confession, where a person comes before the Lord in prayer, and asks for forgiveness and turns from their wrongful deeds.
The other act is faith- which goes beyond believing that there is a God. But means embracing God, following Jesus Christ. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24: “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.” Such is the clear path to an eternity with God.
Regarding our good friend, Eric, I wish I could have had one more conversation with him. Wish I could have hugged his neck one more time; and told him how much he meant to me. But that did not happen to our choosing. We must resign ourselves to God’s will in these matters. As it says in the book of Job: “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed by the name of the Lord.”
What can we say about Eric? Lots of things like sharp, scholarly, classy, funny, handsome, winsome, kind, helpful and good. Other words are loving, caring, witty, ornery and humble.
My earliest recollection of him was his part time job on the square. Eric was hired by Lyle Catron to represent Shanks and Sterrett Clothing Store. That was Nevada’s classy store. Eric was the perfect person for the job because he was classy. His temperament and dress made him a great choice for the job.
A member of the speech and debate squad in Nevada’s glory years of that sport, Eric thrived at Extemporaneous Speaking. Under the direction of Tim Gore, Eric fined tuned his speaking skills, which gave him a head start compared to some of his fellow law school students. Eric was an excellent public speaker. He spoke on foreign and domestic subjects. He kept files of current events. Anything from the US Supreme Court to what was going on in Sri Lanka. Eric was good at what he did. He was a critical thinker. I remember going round and round with him about creation vs. evolution.
With Landoll there was always a lot of joking and kidding around. If you were privileged to know him, he may razz you about your personality defects. Beneath it, there was a definite sense of kindness.
E loved the outdoors. He liked to fish and hunt and he loved to camp. On one of those camping trips where high school boys are up to absolutely no good, Eric, Chuck Thomas, Suresh Dalai, John Garton and some others were gathered near everyone’s vacation spot, the Marmaton River. After a few hours of actually lying on the tents as they lay flat against the earth, it was decided that camp must be set up. The problem was that it was getting dark. And it was discovered that the wrong pegs were brought, or maybe no pegs at all. Eric then asked: “Have you guys ever been camping before!?”
Post High School
You could describe Eric as smart, a sharp young man. He was well liked by many older, peers and younger. My friendship with him ramped-up in 1988. I had known Eric and we had experienced some good times together. Coming home from Christmas break and needing to make a change in schools, I enrolled at Missouri Southern. I attended a basketball game that evening at the High School. Eric was there and welcomed me to my new school, assuring me of a good experience and a good time.
That spring, Eric, Tom Weakley, Pat Wood, Brian Schneider and I spent a lot of time together. Those were happy times. As roommates, we would cook, lift weights at the YMCA; listen to “Guns and Roses” blaring in his navy blue 66 Mustang with cherry interior went down the road.
Eric was very smart. He was determined to get a good education and do well. After graduating from Missouri Southern with his business degree, he attended Mizzou law school. Eric saw himself as a helper to others. In this way he was incredibly selfless.
Dylan Murray was attending Mizzou at the time and was thinking of applying to law school. This is what he posted: “He was always a friend to me in Nevada, and also at MU, where I recall him giving me some great advice about the LSAT Law School entrance test and about what to expect in Law School. I will always recall him very fondly.”
Eric became good friends with Mike McCaffree. On another adventure in the great outdoors, Mike and Eric went on a float trip to the Elk River near Noel, Missouri. McCaffree had a broken arm, thus making E do all of the paddling on a river that barely has any current. Clearly, this was a well thought out plan, by McCaffree! Eric reminded him often.
Eric was caring and fun, but he also knew tragedy. Eric had lost his beloved older brother Russ to a tragic car accident. Others had experienced loss; one of our friends lost his dad tragically. At a party, I stepped outside and found Eric and our friend shedding some tears, encouraging each other over who they had lost. Eric was someone you could talk to. Eric lost his mother to cancer and his Gerald, to whom he was especially close, in 2007.
Eric practiced law in Nevada for 20 years. He was an exceptional lawyer and enjoyed having to think quickly and communicate clearly with a line of reasoning. He developed an excitement for the preparation and the opportunity to be judged for his efforts.
He was not “cut-throat,” but cared about the individual. He fielded his fair share of divorce cases. The first two or three, he got the couples to reconcile. This did not help his bank account, but gave him satisfaction. The toughest part about the job was seeing homes divided and kids displaced. Eric was sensitive and surprisingly patient. He had a deep sense of the good. He was anchored morally and had a sense of what was right.
In 1996, Eric married the love of his life, Angie. Eric was a catch and so was Angie. They were a handsome couple. Angie had moved to our area from Iowa. She was a student at Iowa State. Eric and Angie’s love was so strong that it endured a long distance relationship, before the inventions of texting, email and unlimited long distance. They waited until 11 p.m. to talk on the phone, so as to have cheaper phone bills. Angie and Eric were married for 21 years. From this union were born three beautiful children: Abbey, Clay and Carter.
This is what Eric said in a text conversation I had with him just a month ago. We were bragging about our kids, or complaining about the challenges of life. Here’s what he said:
“Dave. I promise you, I’m fine. I know you married me to the best woman in the world, and for that I thank you. I’m happy to break bread with you but please don’t fret over my welfare.
I’m absolutely fine. Clay missed state by two points this year. David Dade was the ref. He does a great job refereeing.
Abbie got a big scholarship when she graduated. She’s doing good things with it at MU. Has a 3.8+ gpa in the honors journalism program.
I don’t go around bragging to anyone else, but Clay has 3.9+ gpa, action-class, Varsity cross country, varsity wrestling, stucco, junior class vp., drum major. Angie and I are very fortunate. …. went to Missouri Scholars Academy at Mizzou last summer for three weeks, is going to Boys State this year, but I still want to pinch his head off for being such a jerk to his brother.
And he was quite fond of Carter. Even just recently, he bought Carter a cantaloupe because Carter liked cantaloupe. “Here you go buddy. Here’s your cantaloupe.” Carter participated in the 5th grade spelling bee and won third place. But even more important than his finish was the fact that he would “high-five,” his classmates, upon their successful attempts at difficult words. This blessed Eric and made him proud.
This is what Andy Remington posted:
On Friday this world lost another good man. I met Eric Landoll in high school, where we both participated in speech and debate. “E” was a top dog in the class and I used to love to watch him in action. After graduation and college, we both ended back in Nevada, where he began to practice law. Again, I was always in “awe” of his talents. Periodically we’d work together and I remember going to his office and telling him when Donetta was pregnant with Taylor Remington, and we talked about how some day our kids would know each other. We had always kept in touch and over the past few years had been in a group chat room where we spoke several times a day about everything from, politics, cooking, health issues, bragging about our kids, and many “unmentionable” topics as many of you can imagine! Those conversations helped me keep my sanity a lot of days. One thing I’m positive about “E” is that he loved his wife and kids more than anything. Those kids are the most polite, well mannered, and smartest children you’d ever meet. I know a lot of people are going to miss “E”, especially myself and “The Knights of the Golden Hog.” Take care buddy and hope to see you again some day.
I believe that Eric would have liked to be remembered as a hardworking, kind, and helpful soul who loved his family and loved his friends. We were better for having known him. And we can thank God that we had the privilege.
It is easy to let such an event pass with the pain, but with little to no spiritual effect. What would God tell you today? And as we grieve in the days, months and years ahead, may you be reminded that God has given you life and so life must be lived with Jesus at its center. May God bless you and hold you in the palm of His hand. Amen.
The following is a letter that Eric’s seventeen-year-old son, Clay, wrote to his dad on June 22, 2016:
In PSD (Personal and Social Dynamics), we were told to think of who we admire/look up to most in our lives. It was a hard question, because I love you and Mom equally, but when it comes to who has taught me more about how to be a man someday, you took the cake. Now that I have an image of you eating pineapple upside-down cake, I can thank you for the unmeasurable amount of effort you have put into being such a gigantic part of my life.
I can’t even remember a time when I questioned your love for me or my love for you. Of course there were times when we couldn’t stand each other, but I feel each time made us a little bit closer. I also appreciate how you’ve always encouraged me to follow my dreams and to work hard so that I am the best me I can be. You taught me to be caring, passionate, trustworthy, and to be a gentleman. You’ve given me a set of tools with which I can carve a life of my own someday. A gift in which I will be forever grateful and appreciative of. I simply would not be anywhere near who I am today without your guidance and involvement in my life.
I know I don’t say it enough, Dad, but I love you. And I thank you. You are an amazing dad, and you’ve shown me how to be a good partner by how you treat Mom. You’ve raised an ever grateful family. So again, thank you.