"HOW SHALL WE THEN LIVE?" Francis Schaeffer

Monday, May 14, 2012

In honor of Edwin Heppner

My freshman year at a small Christian college did not go well.  I was invited to NOT RETURN by the Dean of Men predicated by my "D" plus average and my really sucky attitude.
The one bright spot of the year was being a part of the Chorale.  We sang some great music and we also performed at various churches all dressed up in our Tuxs etc.  I was a very average baritone.  Average was my specialty.
The director was Mr. Heppner, a small dapper guy with a great tenor voice and a very nice wife. I did think, and do think many years later, he was an excellent chorale director.  Periodically I tried to track him down but with no success.  Then last week I was thinking of the chorale and decided to use the internet - specifically whitepages.com.  There were 3 people listed with his specific name and two of them were too young, according to the WhitePages.  So I decided to take a chance, spend a dime and call the one who lived in Arizona.  BINGO, I got him.  His wife answered the phone, I asked if this was the Heppner residence and if Mr. Heppner ever lead a college choral group.  She said, "Yes indeed, let me put you on."
I spoke with Mr. Heppner for about 5 minutes.  I knew he had left the college but didn't know why.  It turned out he had a very bad back and was increasingly unable to stand and lead choirs so he retired from that profession and became a driving instructor.  He said he had a seat especially made for him and it had worked out fine.  ( He ended up having a couple of different back surgeries and was never the same. )

I told him who I was and that he would not remember me ( again, I was a very non-descript baritone).  He wanted to remember me but he couldn't. I told him how much I appreciated and enjoyed my year in his chorale.  He seemed both touched and appreciative.  He again asked what my name was and I told him.
He is now very old and sounded very frail but delighted to hear from an old student.
 I'm glad I called him; I'm glad I could find him thru the wonders of the internet.

I did not tell him that of the 40 members of the chorale, 39 got "As" each semester and one non-descript baritone received a "B."  I didn't tell him A) because I have gotten so much humorous mileage out of that true story and  B) I was afraid he might feel badly about it.  That would have been thoughtless on my part. [Back in the day, the professor posted your grades next to your name on his door for all the world to see.  That's how I knew I had the only Bs. ]

So Mr. Heppner, you were a good man, an excellent tenor and a fine choral director.  Kudos to you and may God bless your remaining years.

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