Saying goodbye to a friend, colleague and minister
Published: Sunday, October 28, 2007
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
As ushers closed the doors at 1 p.m. on Thursday, people were still trying to squeeze into the crowded pews.
Friends, family, SMU faculty and students all piled into the Highland Park United Methodist Church for a memorial service to celebrate the life of Dr. James Caswell.
During a ceremony filled with laughter and tears, the impact Dr. Caswell left on the lives he touched through his years as a Methodist minister, father, brother, SMU administrator and teacher was clear.
While Dr. Caswell dedicated 48 years of his life to SMU, 19 of which he was the vice president of student affairs, SMU President R. Gerald Turner said at heart Caswell was always a minister.
Last April, one month prior to his retirement from SMU, Caswell discovered he had esophagus and stomach cancer.
From that time on, even after his death Monday morning, Dr. Robert Hasley said only four days passed in which a letter or card did not come in the mail for Dr. Caswell.
"Jim had a wonderful way of not only making friends but keeping them and nurturing them," Hasley said.
Hasley, the senior pastor of St. Andrew United Methodist Church, was Dr. Caswell's minister and longtime friend who said he was amazed by the amount of faith Caswell always seemed to maintain.
"He's a person that never lost hope," Hasley said. "He had a positive outlook on life and that never left him."
Dr. Caswell was so optimistic about recovery that shortly before he died he told Hasley he wanted to fulfill the position of fulltime pastor in January.
Although Hasley had a difficult time getting through his eulogy as he and several audience members shared tears, the silent sighs soon turned to laughter when Jon Caswell gave a humorous and heartfelt tribute to his brother.
"He had a great relationship with his watch," Jon Caswell said. "I always called him the prince of punctuality."
While Jon Caswell joked of childhood memories and his brother's later obsession with windmills, his speech turned more serious when he described his brother's last birthday.
Dr. Caswell turned 66 and his condition was declining fast. However, he was determined to meet the latest addition to the Caswell family: a fourth grandchild named Berkley.
Upon watching Dr. Caswell hold the new baby, Jon Caswell said he will not forget hearing some of his brother's final words.
"I don't know how long I will live, but I doubt I will ever see a scene as sweet as that," Dr. Caswell said.
"Dr. Caswell gave so much more to us than he sought in return," said Bishop Charles Crutchfield, "and both the educational and church family will miss his leadership."
"He was given a sacred privilege to touch and mold others," Crutchfield said. "A unique gift was given to Jim and Jim's presence here was a gift given by God to us."