Friday, November 22, 2013

The Passing of M.T.Hall

Exactly 50 years ago today was my parents 25th Anniversary.  Hard to forget since it was the also the day of the JFK assassination.  The party went on but they were glued to the television.  I was 13.  

Bare with me and please allow me to post my dad's obituary.  Mom passed nine months ago at 96 and dad two weeks ago at 97.  Dad was an Elder in WCG for a number of years after most of my family followed my sister and myself into WCG in the '70's.  Over the years our family grew to 3 full time pastors, 2 local elders , deacons and deaconesses and some pretty dedicated folk.  30+ in all counting the kids.  None are now in any of the splinter groups, that's not the Diehl way evidently,  and have found their way back to the churches or types of churches in the family before WCG.  Mom and Dad returned to their roots with the Memorial Orthodox Church just down the street from their home of 75 years.  They made a very large circle back to those pews that I sat in long before my feet could touch the floor.  Same pews.  The sanctuary, when at mom's memorial service, looked as it did when my parents first started there in the 1940's.  Exactly the same.  That's stability and something there would be precious little of in the WCG experience.  I am glad they went back to their roots.  

I wanted to honor dad somewhere for his life in WCG and this is the only place left to me.  Dad was the kind of gentle man who could stand up to the Dave Pack's of the Church.  He took Dave and other's ideas and "orders" under advisement" very often.  "Under advisement" meant , "Hell, no!"  LOL  That was dad.  

Emp T. Hall

Dad wrote Joe Tkach Sr. towards the end days for WCG to "thank" him for his reckless change and ridiculous "leadership."   The Rochester Church was falling apart and he signed it "M.T.Hall" because the church hall was mostly empty then.  Thus my occasional use of "M.T.Hall" here on Banned.  

I am not sure I have been or could be the man I perceived my dad to be but we had much different stories in life.  He lived two streets over as mom's paperboy from the house mom was born in.  They bought a home, ONCE, across the street as kids in their 20's and stayed put.  That was not my own story for sure.  Dad worked one job at Kodak for 45 years and lived to see Kodak thrive and die.  He worked 8-5 , five days a week with every weekend off and lots of vacation time for the Adirondacks.  I believe mom and dad's longevity was due the stability of staying put and one job for life that just got better and better.  Those days are gone.   Moving all over creation for the WCG , much less the endless WCG drama as it affected both ministry and member, took its toll on the family, the finances and the friendships.  The contrast growing up in a very stable and fun family with my own WCG experiences probably lead to the anxiety issues that came up later in life.  While many learn coping skills early in the game. I learned them later as a minister and in the transition from that to whatever more normal was or is.  Transitions can be messy and painful. The price has been high and regrets and feeling badly about outcomes aplenty at times. My former counselor told me "That was your story and this is yours.  Don't compare them."  That helped.

So here's to my dad.  Mr. M.T.Hall.  
I retire the moniker

Diehl, Frederick
William Jr.

Rochester: Our Dad, Frederick William Diehl, Jr., age 97, a dedicated servant of God, peacefully returned to his Heavenly Father on November 3, 2013, nine months after his loving wife of 75 years, left his arms. He exemplified Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” You always walked away from time spent with him believing you were smarter, stronger, better, and more capable than before.

He was predeceased by his son-in-law, Jim Rosenthal and his precious great-grandson, Matthew J. Frederick Gnage; best friends Neil Muller and John Peters.

He is survived by his loving children, Diane Rosenthal of Saratoga, Nolee and Ron Feiock of Rochester, Frederick III of Rochester, Dennis of Greenville, SC, and daughter-in-law Karen Diehl of Columbia, SC; his adoring grandchildren, Robyn Francis, Aimee (Warren) Lucas, Sarah (Mark) White, Jennifer Butler, David Rosenthal, Eric (Kimberly) Rosenthal, Jeffrey (Jennifer) Diehl and Christopher (Katherine) Diehl; his pride and joy, great-grandchildren Nicholas and Jacob Schell, Lindsey Gnage, Riley and Hunter Lucas, Max White, Zeia Rosenthal, Sheridan, Nicholas and Vivian Diehl, Magan, Lilly and Ryan Diehl; sister-in-law Thelma Peters and very special niece, Alice Geldof and her husband, Jerry, who gave so much time and love to his care.

We would like to thank the staff on 6 South at St. John’s Home for their dedicated care and most especially Dad’s aides who brought him so much laughter for the last and hardest nine months of his life.

To accommodate the family, a memorial service will be held December 28th at Memorial Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 650 Merchants Road, Rochester at 11:00 a.m.


Byker Bob said...

Obviously, Dennis, in addition to being wonderful personal influences on you in your journey, your parents were also some of the better exemplars of humanity. That entire generation had its own unique qualities and brought into our lives some influences which were a product of the times in which they lived their lives, specific and unique influences which may never be seen again. Such is Zeitgeist.

In a way, your experience becomes our experience as you share it. Part of the "iron sharpens iron" equation here, is that we often get to utilize one anothers' experiences as frames of reference, Armstrongism having been the powerful modifier that we have acknowledged it to be.

The stability of your family is impressive. The fact that so much of your family ended up in WCG following your own entry into the same is a testimony to your own example and influences upon them. This is one area in which your experience and mine are at marked divergence. I did not come into WCG as a result of my own independent thinking processes, or of my own volition. I had no choice in the matter, as a child, but to yield to the influences of my parents. They dragged myself and my sibs into Armstrongism. Basically, far from bringing significant numbers of my family into the cult, my parents' cruel "Philadelphian" application of the child rearing doctrine totally shocked and alienated the majority of our family. You might say that us kids' suffering actually prevented most of our family from even considring Armstrongism as any type of "Christian" alternative. I'm thankful for that.

Amongst our immediate family, we too have had ministers, college or church employees, AC grads, and elders. I, of course, have remained a rebel and a separatist, even from the family members who never drank the Kool Aid, because all they ever want to do is discuss the abuse we suffered half a century ago, and frankly, I've moved on.

Changes of life cannot impact or diminish our past. They do impact our present, and future. At one point or another, we end up needing to soldier on, sometimes ourselves becoming the go-to people who are thought to have all the answers. It is always encouraging to know that somehow, against all odds, a family has somehow survived Armstrongism intact, as opposed to producing a collection of people who thrive on being separatists. One day, hopefully, families will be able to be reunited in unity, with all the bogus factors which tend to cause the differences which play on all of our human emotions having been resolved and corrected. Until then, all we can do is to be thankful for whatever positives (and all living people do have at least some positives) have been part of our experiences.


Ken Webster said...

Dennis -
Your dad was a very special man.
I recognize the picture of Niagara Falls feast site.
I remember being in a restaurant there at a Feast one time. I couldn't figure out who was throwing ice cubes at me...until I saw your Dad sitting there laughing while you were doing your best to look innocent.
He was that rare person...a person who stands for something and remains kind and gentle.

DennisCDiehl said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience BB. It's why I say, "we all have a story but we are not our story." That too me years to come to see. My boys "had no choice" when young, but I do have to say I never thought they had to follow in my footsteps with the church or AC. About the right time in their lives I came to probably absolutely forbid it! lol

My youngest is more like me but seems to be getting religion and my oldest is Catholic. I think he needs and appreciates the formality. Catholics don't meet in Masonic halls and the story both the outward one and the deeper one is told in the stained glass.

Hi Ken, Oh that's hilarious. Yep, that was dad. The quiet Imp. I was just on the phone with someone in Pasadena chatting and started to tell the story of my call to dad when I found out I was going into the ministry and to Minneapolis. Then I choked for the first time since he died. When I told him I was going into the ministry he got real quiet and I asked him if he was ok. He said, "I'll write you a letter" Long story short, he said when my brother was born handicapped, deaf, blind and can not speak, he promised God, "If you give me a normal son, (no wisecracks please!) you can have him." No pressure there. I was evidently the answer to my dad's prayer and when I said I was in ministry he remembered his promise.

No pressure there! It is one of the reasons I stayed too long most likely.

James said...

A WCG story with a happy ending. Your whole family got out, minds intact. Good for you Dennis!

UNFORTUNATELY, Tkach is a man who values money over people. People such as yourself and other decent ministers I knew got the shaft. Such is a corporation. Goes to show you that these cults are OF the world. Corporate soulless.

Anonymous said...


I'm sorry to hear of the death of your dad, but thankful that he lived a long, productive, and faithful-to-God life. Hugs and prayers for you and your family going forward.

I've lost both of my parents...the road without them is lonely. You have my empathy, my compassion, and my love.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful tribute to your dad Dennis. All the best. J

Jace said...

I'm sorry to hear of your loss Dennis. It sounds like your father was a wonderful man. I'd say he did a fantastic job with you and it sounds like you have a lot of good memories to treasure and life lessons to continue to learn from.

Stay strong my friend.

whatmeworry said...

Dear Dennis, so very sorry to hear about another loss to you and your family. I hope you will all give yourselves time to grieve, something the WCG never gave us the permission to do. I'll be remembering you in my prayers. Peace.

John said...

Dennis, I don't know you personally except by way of your contributions to this blog. And I don't always agree with your views either. But, may I say what you wrote about your father was truly touching. Honestly that era you described in which your parents grew up and raised a family in was very much idyllic! How I'd loved to time travel sometimes and live through the roaring 20s to the warring 40s and fabulous 50s! What a time to have been alive in the USA! I definitely would've loved to have grown up and lived in such a time! Far more stable and predictable than ours! And that epitaph: "You always walked away from time spent with him believing you were smarter, stronger, better, and more capable than before" says it all doesn't it?! That's really what you want your own dad to be like and the kind of dad you want to be when you have children of your own! Such timeless wisdom! I pray your parents rest in the peace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and may He give those who loved them dearly the comfort, strength and guidance in this difficult time.

Secular-Humanist Buddhist(?) said...

I wish my "Armstrongite" family members had gotten out before one of them killed himself. Some are still in a splinter. I can't "forgive or forget" that Nazi-like group even though I never got close to it myself.

Byker Bob said...

Hey, John, me too. In one way, I'd like to have been born earlier. Have you seen on ebay or Craig's list the prices of 1930's cars??? I would love for my next rod to be a '36 Ford coupe, but you can't touch one for under $40-$60,000!


John said...

LOL BB! Yeah they don't make cars like they used too...Come to think of it they don't make anything like they used to anymore! ;-) Yeah the cars, fashion, houses, music etc--all of it exuded a timeless elegance imo that hopeless nostalgics like me yearn for! I remember coming across a car on eBay like the 1948 Buick Super convertible from the film "Evening" (2007) & it sure was steep! Suffice to say all I could do was look on & imagine...

Questeruk said...

They don't make them like they used to. Certainly right.

Cars are so much more comfortable, reliable, and especially safer today, compared with what they were 50 plus years ago.

Total road deaths in the UK are around 25% what they were fifty years ago, while the number of cars on the road has escalated in that time.

Good old days? Were they really??