OBITUARY: REV WILLIAM DENVER STONE (Dec 11, 1926 – May 8, 2004)
THE Rev William Denver Stone who passed away on May 8, 2004 at a nursing home in Greensboro, North Carolina at the age of 77, was a Methodist missionary for 32 years in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore before he retired in 1990. Something of the spirit of self-effacing giving can be seen
when he and his wife, Jean, quietly and generously pledged assets to Trinity Theological College (TTC) for the development of pastoral education and training. His wife, Jean, preceded him in death in 1996 when the bequest was named “The Jean Nixon Stone Memorial Fund”, to which gifts may be made through TTC.
A Memorial Service in the United States was held at James-town United Methodist Church, Jamestown, North Carolina on May 16.
A Memorial Service was also held at Pentecost Methodist Church (PMC) on May 22. This was followed by a Service of the Interment of Ashes at the Garden of Remembrance Christian Columbarium the following day. Mrs Sheila Polinsky and Mrs Ramona Magid, daughters of the late Rev Stone, came to Singa-pore for the Memorial Service and the Service of the Interment of Ashes.
In accordance with their late father’s wish, Mrs Polinsky and Mrs Magid had brought his remains to Singapore to be treasured at the Garden of Remembrance.
The half-hour Interment Service was attended by some 150 members from various local churches. A choir from Bukit Panjang Methodist Church rendered “Where the Roses Never Fade”, a song sung by the Rev Stone while he was serving at the church.
As the congregation sang the closing hymn, “Sing with All the Saints of Glory”, Bishop Dr Robert Solomon, the Rev Dr Isaac Lim, President of Trinity Annual Conference, ministers and the Rev Stone’s daughters proceeded to the Hall of Remem-brance to inter the ashes.
The Rev Stone’s missionary appoint-ments were served at Wesley Church, Medan, and Tamil Church, Kuala Lumpur. In Singapore, he served as Pastor of Pente-cost Methodist Church from 1965 to 1971 and from 1984 to 1987; Toa Payoh Methodist Church (1975-1977) and Bedok Methodist Church (1987-1988). In addition, he was pioneer pastor of three Methodist churches – Sungei Way-Subang, Clementi (now known as Aldersgate Methodist) and the English-speaking congregation of Bukit Panjang Methodist Church.
At the PMC Memorial Service, the Rev Dr Kang Ho Soon eulogisd his early mentor and pastor, the Rev Stone, recount-ing his active involvement in lay and ministerial training. He directed Local Preachers’ Training Courses and the Member-on-Trial Programme for probationer ministers. He also served as lecturer in Homiletics and Practical Theology while acting as Methodist chaplain and Director of Continuing Education at TTC.
His contribution to the marginalised people of Singapore involved working with the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association as volunteer speaker, and as Counsellor and Voluntary Aftercare Officer with the Drug Rehabilitation Centres for more than 12 years. He also taught and counselled at Changi Prison for six years. Coming from a modest miner’s home in West Virginia, he had a special place for all charities.
He and his wife had a special passion in training young people for ministry in the Church. He himself exemplified the kind of pastoral care that the ministry demands. A man of few words, he assidu-ously avoided the limelight, strenuously working against the human tendency to cultivate a celebrity image. But he is fondly remembered by members of the churches which he served who express deep appreciation for his regular visitations and counselling.
We can understand why he indicated his wish to die in Singapore, partially fulfilled when his ashes were brought here by his daughters.
The Stones had three children: Sheila, Ramona and Stephen, with their children – Whitney, Gerrick, Richard, Karen, Kasey, Andrea and Anthony — who mourn his passing, but rejoice that he is now with his Lord, “lost in wonder, love and praise”.
KEVIN ANG of Pentecost Methodist Church (PMC) reports:
At the Memorial Service held at PMC on May 22, it was clear that the Rev Stone was well-loved as a pastor, a teacher and a friend.
Mr Ang Tock Seng, in his eulogy to the Rev Stone, recalled many aspects of his late pastor’s care and concern for the congregation at PMC. For instance, the Rev Stone would make an effort to visit the home of every member during his term as pastor of the church. He was thus able to build the bonds of relationship that existed between him and many members of PMC, who fondly remember him as a pastor who cared for them, shepherded them, and ate with them in the manner of a true Singaporean, whose delights included durian and fish head curry.
In his meditation, the Rev Dr Isaac Lim reminded everyone to celebrate the life of the Rev Stone because his life with Christ was truly just beginning. “Even though the Rev Stone has passed away, it can encourage us to look at the life beyond life and the glorious eternity that awaits us when we return to our Father in Heaven,” he said.