We got word tonight that one of our supporters and very good friends has gone to be with his Savior and Lord. Donald Rapson was like a grandfather to our kids when we visited the Rapsons in Parkersburg, WV. He leaves behind a wonderful and sweet wife, Madelon. Pray for Madelon and the Rapson family, would you?
Don had been developing Alzheimer’s for several years now. He used to greet us and tell us the same story every time we visited them…about how he first met my in-laws as they were leaving for the mission field. We always had to smile and thank God for the impression the Hanna family obviously left on his failing memory.
He and Madelon owned (and still do own) a Christian supply center that was packed with many more books and Bibles than trinkets and used their profits to generously support missionaries around the world…including the Hannas and more recently our family too.
Don was so happy to give us his Mercury Grand Marquis when we were raising support. It was a beautiful car and he had taken meticulous care of it as he always did with his cars. It served us well into Mexico. He and his son, Paul, generously offered to help me buy our first laptop that we used from 2001 all the way to 2008. It is now being used by a Mexican couple for their office work as they try to start a Christian bookstore in Querétaro.
The past couple years Don could no longer work in the office. He still loved driving and always drove Madelon to the store and puttered around a bit and I suppose most days he’d come back home. He spent a lot of time sitting in his chair and he napped quite a bit as you might expect. He had a little plastic box with Scriptures in it. He always pulled one out at meal time and read it and then prayed. He always read his Bible and spent many hours in prayer during the day. He loved to do crossword puzzles. He chuckled a lot. I’m not sure he always understood what was going on these past couple years but he almost always carried a smile and a gentle laugh.
This past Tuesday morning he and Madelon were at their store, and he went out to get something from the van but ended up driving away wearing his light jacket, cap and gloves in the cold weather. No one knows why he left or what he was thinking. Perhaps with the bitter cold he thought he was back home in Michigan. I read a newspaper online quoting his son, Ernie, who thought maybe Don was heading home…to Michigan. He talked a lot about their Michigan days.
Apparently, he drove up Highway 2 along the Ohio River and after many miles, turned down a country road there in the mountains that line the river. I’m not sure how it happened but the van ended up wrecked down an embankment. Much later about 6:30 p.m. his vehicle was discovered. No gas. Battery dead. Key in the ignition. But no Don. A search was started but it was dark and bitterly cold and too cold to safely search for him. The search resumed Wednesday during daylight hours…and again on Thursday…finally called off on Friday…but someone did find Don on Friday evening. He was lying in the woods not too far from the van.
We’re heartbroken to hear how he left us and especially how he left Madelon. He joins his Lord for which we rejoice. May God grant comfort and peace to the Rapson family. We love you. We grieve and cry with you. I’m so sorry we can’t be there to say good-bye to Don and to hug the family. Our God loves you.