Two Mighty Oaks Fall

In the brief span of a few hours in late October 2004, Young Life lost two great friends: trustee Bill Garrison and former trustee Jeff Comment. Though the circumstances of their deaths were different, both men shared a love for Jesus, for their families and for the mission of Young Life.
Jeff Comment collapsed while dancing with his wife, Martha, and died on the evening of October 30. Chairman and CEO of Helzberg Diamonds at the time of his death, Comment was widely known in the Kansas City area (home to Helzberg Diamonds) and beyond as a man of faith who had a passion for giving to others.
While attending Comment’s memorial service, Young Life President Denny Rydberg was reminded of the impact Comment had on his family, his community and his industry. Comment, who in 1995 wrote Mission in the Marketplace: Perspectives for Life and Work, had “a passion for bridging his faith and the world. The marketplace really summarized who Jeff was,” Rydberg said.
In his quest to put the principles of his faith into practice, Comment personally reached out to hurting children. Each year for the past decade or so Comment played Santa to children in pediatric hospitals around the country. Comment co-authored a book with Warren Buffet from his experiences with suffering kids, titled Santa’s Gift: True Stories of Courage, Humor, Hope and Love.
Comment and his wife, Martha, first became involved with Young Life when they lived in Miami, Fla., and in addition to Comment’s service on the Young Life Board of Trustees, the couple continued their support for local Young Life when they moved to the greater Kansas City area. They were instrumental in founding and supporting urban Young Life in Kansas City. The Comments had been married 34 years at the time of his death.
Bill Garrison passed away after a brief illness in the early morning hours of October 31. Garrison leaves behind a legacy of service to several national evangelical organizations, including Bible Study Fellowship, Dallas Theological Seminary, Search Ministries and Young Life. At Garrison’s memorial service Young Life President Denny Rydberg talked about three qualities that he appreciated about this Christian statesman. “Bill always showed up; he always brought his gifts to the table; and he was a master of encouragement,” Rydberg said.
Rydberg recalls that Garrison contributed both through his faithfulness (he rarely missed a meeting of the Young Life board) and his wisdom. “Bill’s eyesight and hearing were failing, but he brought what he could to the table — his wisdom and insight. I’m grateful for his contribution.”
Rydberg also said he appreciated the encouragement he received from Garrison. “I know that the leaders of each organization he worked with felt the same,” Rydberg said.
Garrison was a committed man of God when he first became involved with Young Life, but he was moved by the mission’s ability to combine a passion for the Lord and for having fun. “I think Young Life brought fun to Bill’s faith,” Rydberg said.
For most of his career, Garrison practiced law in Fort Worth, Texas. He also served on the Fort Worth City Council and was a founding member of McKinney Memorial Bible Church. Garrison and his wife, Sue, who often joined him at Young Life board meetings, had been married 55 years at the time of his death.
“At Bill Garrison’s memorial service, Howard Hendricks made the observation that a great oak in the kingdom of God has fallen,” said Denny Rydberg. “In fact, with our loss of Bill Garrison and Jeff Comment, two mighty oaks have fallen.”