People That Changed My Life: Lance Corley

The Corley Family

Lance was the youth pastor at Bonnie Brook Baptist Church during the time my dad was the lead pastor. I mostly remember Lance for being super cool because he was a college quarterback. Well, sort of. He was the third string quarterback...and I think they won about seven games in four years. Sorry, Lance...

But I digress.

As I mentioned, Lance worked at the church and was my brothers' and sister's youth pastor. He also performed my sister's wedding. Suffice to say, our family was very close to the Corley clan.

A "special" meeting place
My most poignant memory of Lance was on the heels of my dad passing away. Lance would take me to the Taco Bell on Sheridan Road in Zion, Illinois every Wednesday. He did this every week for months. We hardly ever talked about my dad. Mostly we just discussed the Bears, or my siblings or bean burritos. But at the end of each lunch, Lance would always close by saying something like, "If you ever want to talk about your dad, I want you to know you can talk to me." 

After each one of these lunches, Lance would drive me back to my school. After one particular lunch, I remember "lingering" in the car ten seconds or so after Lance said, "bye." Perhaps I ate one too many chalupas but for whatever reason, I couldn't get myself to open the door and get out of the car.

"Are you OK?"Lance asked.

It was at this point that I ABSOLUTELY lost it.

I don't remember crying much after my dad's funeral. In fact, I think I probably hadn't cried in several months. I suppose I simply didn't want to think about it. But for some reason, I just completely lost my composure. I cried...and cried...and cried. I didn't say anything. Lance didn't say anything. We just sat there together.

I'll never forget this. Lance showed up every Wednesday at 12noon to pick me up from school and take me out to lunch. A funny thing happens when tragedy strikes. People usually send you cards, food, money flowers...for about two months. But eventually people have to move on with their lives. When most everyone else had "moved on", Lance just kept showing up Wednesday after Wednesday.  He was consistent, and it was this consistency that provided the space for me to mourn appropriately.  He didn't have to say anything. It was just important that he was there.

A few years later the Corley family left the U.S. to serve overseas in Russia. We mourned their departure, but obviously were very excited for them.

Fast forward about a decade (give or take).

In the fall of 2008 my brother was diagnosed with a very serious form of brain cancer (I have referenced this before in this blog). As soon as I heard about the diagnoses I boarded a plane from Boston and flew back home to Chicago. I walked into the hospital room and wouldn't you know it, there was Lance. It just so happened that the Corleys were on furlough and back in the Chicago area. There was something that just felt right about Lance being there. Perhaps it was coincidence that Lance was back in the States when Karl got sick. Or perhaps there was something bigger going on.

At any rate, Lance helped me (and my family) get through two of the most significant "battles" the Krasses have ever fought.

A couple of months ago, I wrote about a post about "why bad things happen to good people" and about appropriate responses to pain and suffering.  Lance understood this and I am incredibly grateful for him.

Thanks, Lance.

P.S. I still think you are pretty cool.


  1. An an attempt to improve the historicity of my blog, I should probably include this note I received from Lance:


    Now about my football team! I was third string quarterback, yes, but I was starting free-safety and captain of my team my senior year. (BTW -We were 4 and 5 which isn't much better of a record - but way better than the way you made it sound).


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