Bernie Hull joined the Board of Trustees in 1965 and served continuously, including six years as chairman, until his death in March. Hull was named chairman emeritus by the Board of Trustees in May. This eulogy was offered at the funeral by his daughter-in-law, Nancy, in remembrance of his life and legacy.
We have come today not so much to grieve but to celebrate a man’s life — a man whose legacy is as revered to us, his immediate family, as it is to you, his family and friends. What you observed and knew about Bernie Hull is exactly what we knew. He was not one man for the public and another in his private life. He was consistent and diligent in his commitment to his faith, his family and his community.
As a man of God, Bernie devoted hours and dollars to ministries that focused intensely on sharing Jesus with the world. In chairing a missions committee at church or boarding a bus on a dental missions trip in Guatemala, he was “sold out” to Jesus. He believed in the challenge that “whatsoever a man doeth, do it with all your heart.” His heart led him to visit and encourage the Prabakars in India; the Bakers in Sierra Leone, West Africa; the Swartzes—Wycliffe Bible Translators in Australia. He was led, not driven. He believed in the power of the gospel to give hope and promise to people all over the world. He was a man of action, and his actions reflected his heart.
For 46 years, he served God as a member of the Huntington University Board of Trustees. He led them as its board chair. He made that three-plus hour journey hundreds of times to do his part on a finance committee or to collaborate with other board members about major issues facing the college. His contributions, both in time and talent, have made a permanent impact on Huntington University’s campus. His four children all attended there, and through scholarship contributions, he has assisted many other students with their tuition needs.
As a father he was unmatched. Married 64 years to his loving wife, Peggy, he faithfully followed the plaque that hung above his doorbell at one home: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” From him we learned how to love Jesus and to treat other people with dignity and respect. Whether he was showing us how to ride horses on a Wayland farm, entering the dark woods with his children and grandchildren on opening day of deer season, or treating his entire family to a vacation at Disney World, he was a devoted father and grandfather. He passed along his business wisdom and his favorite Scriptures. Because of the example set by him and Mom, we all “hold fast to the truth” he presented. Truly his wife, children and grandchildren call him blessed.
His faith and wisdom carried over into the larger world. He functioned as a lieutenant in the Navy during World War II. Then, he returned to Grand Rapids to begin his business — Bernard J. Hull, Builder, but was called out again during the Korean Conflict when he was stationed at the Pentagon. After his military service, he returned to Grand Rapids, to his family and his business. He built entire home developments in Grand Rapids. In his “spare” time, he led the Grand Rapids Home Builders Association as its president and twice was president of the Michigan Home Builders Association. Because of his decades of service to the home building community, he became a life-long director of the National Home Builders Association. He was a contributor of time and funds to the Grand Rapids Community Repair Day. But regardless of whether he was attending a local, state or national convention, everyone around him knew that his primary passion was his belief in a God who owns everything and who cares about how we conduct business. Never unethical, always deliberate, he quietly went about his work.
We take pride in these memories of man who was no greater than any other man, but he was our husband, our dad, our grandpa. We were privileged to know him so well and to share so much of his life. We are better people because we knew him, and we are confident today that he is rejoicing with the One who is “able to do immeasurably more than all we could hope or imagine.” We love you, Bernard J. Hull.