We didn’t stay in any one place for long, nor did we ever sit for family portraits. And while revival organizers sometimes took candid snapshots of my father’s fiery sermons and the like, most of those got pitched overboard to make room for an ever-expanding family. So by the time my siblings and I reached adulthood, only a handful of personal photographs remained.
Some wayward pictures were eventually returned by my father’s associates. Some found their way ‘home’ when I reached out to estranged family members. My sister Sheryll, who shares my interest in personal genealogy, tracked down quite a few photographs on her own. Secrets oftentimes stay buried, but we encouraged more than a few hoarders to share their private stash. And as it turned out, I retrieved a good number of images by climbing into my “Nancy Drew” roadster and following my father’s tire ruts down the Sawdust Trail.
When Roger passed away this month, I felt a hollowness in the places where his voice once reverberated. So precious–then and in hindsight–the times we shared in communion, recounting the highlights of our individual and shared stories. Such treasures, the memories and pictures we’ve managed to archive, for ourselves and future generations. This doesn’t seem to me the appropriate place to write my brother’s obituary, but I’ve assembled a small number of images that bear witness to his life.
To my brothers and sisters, a love offering. That’s already printed on the dedication page of my memoir–in my mind’s eye, at least. Same with the pictures of Roger that you see here.
Roger Suva was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1943.
Roger’s standing next to the family dog, facing my father, who has my oldest sister Coral on his lap. A candid (?) snapshot, taken in front of my father’s revival tent in Johnson City, Tennessee.
My brother Roger’s upper elementary school picture, taken the year I was born.
A front-porch respite from the cramped back seat of our family car, the summer before his senior year in high school.
Roger the Bookworm, shortly after college graduation (Wheaton Bible College, in Illinois).
A Christmas hug from his older daughter, Esther.
Hanging out on the front porch with Heather, his younger daughter (Anaheim, California).
An outdoor enthusiast with an irrepressible wanderlust, Roger’s pictured here in Joshua Tree, watching for Halley’s Comet.
A vegetarian before it was fashionable, Roger espoused strong opinions about many things.
We shared a complicated story, and a tangled family tree. Here, Roger’s (re)introducing me to Cliff, whom I’d met on a couple of other occasions but hadn’t yet realized was my brother.
The VW bus that Roger called home for several years before he died.