Last Saturday, Linda and I were challenged and inspired at the memorial service for Arnold Heron.
Born in 1928, the seventh of eight children, Arnold lived a full and fulling life. He was married to his sweetheart, Ruth, for over 70 years. He and Ruth raised two exceptional children–Tim and Brenda. Arnold creatively combined the names of his kids to form the name of the business he started (Timbren).
I was introduced to Arnold and Ruth shortly after I started serving at Heritage. Over the past decade, I’ve had the joy of numerous visits, phone calls, and lunches with Arnold. I’ve rarely met a more gracious and generous man. “Oh Rick,” he’d say when I’d call, “how wonderful to hear from you. You’ve made my day.” At the funeral I spoke with other Christian leaders who all received the same reception when they called. Arnold treated every visitor as an honoured guest.
I remember the day Arnold gave Linda and me a tour around the manufacturing section of Timbren. I was impressed by their process of producing rubber springs and suspension systems. I was more impressed by the way Arnold, the founder of the company, stopped to greet each worker by name. It was apparent he knew the people who worked for him and cared about them as individuals. No wonder they held him in such high regard!
Back in his office, we noticed a large world map above his desk. I remember seeing brightly-coloured pins stuck in various countries. Each pin indicated a missionary or Christians institution he and Ruth supported. The pins were especially dense in Quebec, a place close to his heart. Arnold’s brothers, Murray and Lorne, had been missionaries in Quebec (even serving jail time for preaching the gospel in the 1940s). Arnold stayed in Ontario and funded their efforts through the profits made from his business. He and Ruth also gave generously to many other Christian ministries, including Heritage College and Seminary.
As a young man, Arnold heard the good news that Jesus had died to forgive his sins and give him eternal life. Having received the gift of life through faith in Christ, he spent the rest of his life seeking to help that message of hope get to others. He leveraged his determined spirit and business acumen to build a successful business that supported God’s work in Canada and around the world. We could use more Christian business leaders like him!
Every time I called or visited Arnold and Ruth, I came away encouraged and inspired. That was true once again last Saturday at his memorial service.