Saturday, March 10, 2012

Dale Regan

Last Tuesday, a dear friend and powerful leader, Dale Regan, was shot and murdered at Episcopal High School. Many have blogged and written all over Facebook about this tragedy and the ways in which it has shaken the community at the school and the alumni all over the world. Thousands attended the service yesterday, spilling out into the lawn behind the great oak and into the buildings around campus.

I was privileged to call Dale a friend, a supporter, and someone that pushed me to excel at a young age- and continued to do so until the day she died. I wanted to share with all of you the woman that I knew and loved very much.

I attended EHS from 6th-12th grade. My parents had wanted me to go to private school after having some difficult times at the public school in my area. I, of course, didn't want to go. They set up a campus tour and an entrance exam at Episcopal and I tried to sabotage it. I failed the test- on purpose. Thinking that I had outsmarted my parents and Dale, I was shocked to find out that despite my extremely low score on the test, Dale went to bat for me and I was added to the 6th grade class, bringing the count to 42 students. It became my home for the next 6 years.

When I was at school, I was always welcome in her office. I would go in there and sit across from her and spill what was going on in my life. She always made time for me. She always made an effort to encourage me, especially through the insecure years (that may have been all of them!) She encouraged me to run for Student Senate in the 9th grade. I worked within that group for the next 4 years and I had the great opportunity to be their president my senior year. I would have never run for office if it hadn't been for Dale. She believed in me when I didn't. I had a hard time understanding how this woman seemed to believe in my abilities when I knew that I couldn't live up to her praise and encouragement. She helped me grow up, taught me how to be a leader, and was one of the amazing women that were (and continue to!) sending me out to Africa in prayer and support.

Outside of school, she was close with my parents. We'd all gather around the kitchen area of my house for good food, always making time to tell me and Nikki how much she cared. There were ski trips, low country boils,
and celebrations of all sorts. She was an adventurer like I was and would always encourage me to follow the Lord, wherever He would take me.
Following the tragic death of my sister, Dale broke ground for a new building that included Parks and Lastinger Halls. In between is the beautiful Campion Courtyard. Dale gave a significant donation to this area and dedicated it to my sister, Nicole Baird Buchholz. She put up a plaque, in honor of her life. It reads: Nicole Baird Buchholz, Daughter Sister Wife, Athlete Musician Friend. At the memorial service for Dale yesterday, I was humbled to sit next to my parents as we sat with Dale's family and the faculty of the school. The service took place inside that courtyard, with my sister's plaque right behind the stage. It was a difficult moment for all of us as we remembered such wonderful times with Dale and Nikki, as well as all of the lives she has touched over the years. Dale will be remembered as a beautiful woman who always put others above herself. She was someone that put God, family, and education over all of the petty things that we deal with on a regular basis.
I saw Dale over Christmas break and we had some really good laughs. When it was time for her to head back home, she said to me, "Katie, I am so proud of you and your work. God is doing big things in your life. I look forward to hearing all about it as it unfolds." With a heavy heart, I add this: Dale is now able to see, as a part of that great cloud of witnesses, all the ways in which her loved ones and all of her students push forward into this world, being a part of how God is bringing the Kingdom of God here and now. I can only imagine how much fun Nikki and Dale are having, making jokes and enjoying sweet fellowship with our Savior, Jesus Christ. "Trust in Him."- Psalm 37:5

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