Coping with Grief
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In keeping with these unique times, 89 year old John Stanley (Stan) Tuten, Sr. of Orange City, FL left his 2nd wife Cindy, his 3 devoted sons and 4 lovely daughters-in-law (official and of the heart) - John Stanley and Cindy Tuten, Jr., Curtis Scott and Margaret Tuten, William Keith Tuten, Ikuko Miyagi, and Krissy Jarvey - and 6 beautiful grandchildren - Caitie, Maggie, Matthew, Claire, Nicholas, and Kylee Tuten - on 8/16/2023 to reside instead with a man recognized as a woodworking itinerant street preacher who identifies as the Lord of all creation, along with a vast multitude of His faithful followers, including Peter, James, and John as well as Stan’s first wife, Patricia Ann Tuten, who preceded him in receiving the highly sought after appointment to the heavenly estate.
Borned (as Stan liked to say) at home in Patterson, GA on 5/5/1934 to Molly Crowder Tuten and Rufus Arthur Tuten, Stan was also assigned a birthdate of 5/12/1934 by the country doctor who delivered him and yet for some unknown reason wrote the wrong birthdate on Stan’s birth certificate a week later at the local hospital - an incidental error which would plague Stan’s official records with confusion for the rest of his earthly existence.
The younger brother to Arthur (Buck) and Gloria (Billie) Tuten, Stan spent his early years perfecting his skills in perplexing people and creating mischief. An introvert, he learned to garner secretly desired attention by spontaneously crafting peculiar but almost plausible explanations and selling them to any buyer, a talent he later passed on to his sons. His droll and occasionally impish sense of humor got him out of more pickles than it got him into by virtue of his natural gift of acting innocent.
Discovering the joy of competitive sports back in the day of little to no protective padding and regardless of having his bell rung on numerous occasions (which explains some of the mysteries about him), Stan excelled in playing football and baseball despite peaking at 5’ 5” tall and 135 lbs soaking wet from sweat in the Georgia heat and humidity near the Okefenokee Swamp during his Patterson High School stent. As a local swamp boy, he also nurtured a lifelong fondness for lake and river fishing during those formative years, but it was the excitement of the athletic contests that captivated him. Elected by his teammates to be their captain of both the football and the baseball teams his senior year, Stan’s proudest teenage accomplishment would be playing as the starting center in the Georgia All Star football game.
After graduating from high school, Stan played football and baseball another year at Georgia Military College before attending the University of Georgia, majoring in political science. He was drafted toward the end of his senior year and credited the US Army with sparing him from the preparatory demands of taking any final exams his last semester, securing his graduation. He served first in the mailroom and then in an artillery unit for a year and a half in South Korea soon after the Korean Conflict ended (likely instigating his pronounced hearing deficits in his older years) and was granted an early honorable discharge when his father suffered a fatal stroke.
Originally aspiring to become a lawyer, Stan instead pursued secondary education as a career and taught math and history at the junior high and high school levels in GA and mostly FL for the next 29 & 1/2 years. Along the way, he married Patricia Ann Joyner from Blackshear, GA, graduated with a Master Degree in education from Stetson University in DeLand, FL, helped raise his extraordinary sons, and coached numerous junior high football players. He also became a CPA with a brief foray into employment as an accountant but abandoned that profession after encountering some mafia-style dealings with which he disagreed but dare not argue.
Stan and Pat - a registered nurse with years of experience - operated a home health agency until their marital separation after the boys were grown. At the end of themselves in despair and disappointment, they individually turned to God for help to put their lives back together and He did so in miraculous fashion, leading to their reconciliation and the redemption of their relationship. Five years later, Pat entered the gates of heaven after a brief battle with pulmonary fibrosis.
In a strange revelation of providence, Stan subsequently was hitched to Dr. Cindy Jurss, a rehab medicine physician originally from the then one-horse town of Osteen, FL whom he had met eons before as a 7th grade student in his math class. She ultimately became close friends with Pat and Stan decades later and assisted them both regarding their medical challenges, and was by their sides when each of them parted the curtain into heaven.
Given Cindy’s penchant for roving about the country for her work, Stan adopted her nomadic tendencies whereby they eventually lived in 9 cities, 4 states (GA, NC, WA, and FL), 4 apartments, 5 houses, and a single wide trailer located in the Kitsap Peninsula of the Pacific Northwest and the Blue Ridge Mountains to the southeast Atlantic coast over the ensuing 23 & 1/2 years of their dedicated marriage, finally settling in Orange City in late 2019 to be closer to their families. Despite this unusual pairing, theirs was clearly a match made in heaven as no one else but God could have come up with the idea of such an oddly attracted couple and made it work.
Besides having a pastime of repeatedly putting down and pulling up roots, the Tutens relished traveling as a hobby, oftentimes reveling in the adventures with family and friends. They toured each of the 50 states, including an Alaskan cruise with Stan Jr. and his wife Cindy and all 6 grandkids for Stan’s 80th birthday, a cruise circling the Hawaiian Islands and navigating the Pacific Ocean in celebration of his 85th birthday, and capping off their explorations with state #50 - North Dakota - in the company of his mother-in-law Lucyann Jurss soon thereafter. Their favorite trip above all else was to Israel to experience the land where God affected His incarnation amongst mankind as Jesus walked, ministered, laid down His life, took it up again, ascended to His Father, and promised to return some day. That is, this was Stan’s best travel memory until he was finally given the clearance to fly directly into Jesus’ embrace.
While public education was Stan’s main focus as a career, studying and teaching the Bible became his passion and devotion after dramatically surrendering his life to Christ in 1992. To hone his skills as a Bible instructor, he attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, initially as an enrolled student taking a class each of two semesters and then as an auditing student for another year and a half. His aspiration for a seminary degree went by the wayside as he couldn’t type, and Cindy lasted only for those first couple of grading periods before she flatly resigned her post as Stan’s late night after-work typist. But Stan earned a C and a B for his intense efforts despite never expecting to put his nose to the scholarly grindstone again following his Master Degree.
Under God’s inspiration, Stan established an illustrious teaching ministry through which he served fervently at a handful of Baptist churches for 20 years, guiding the range of young adults to mature seniors through the Scriptures, pursuing knowledge of and relationship with the Holy One of God. (His family will be able to hear Stan’s sure and strong voice delivering inspired lessons for years to come on several tape recordings he collected of his Sunday School class being broadcast on the local Waycross, GA radio station.) Of his many God-designed achievements, Stan regarded living to see each of his sons profess and demonstrate faith in Christ and share in the blessings of that bond with their own families as his most precious one.
All good things in the flesh must come to an end during this age, and yet Stan supernaturally exceeded by more than a decade the years he hoped would belong to him. Prior to his record-setting stretch, the next oldest living relative he could recall had been restricted to 76 years upon the earth. An unrelenting predisposition to vascular disease, early suboptimal lifestyle choices, and even prostate cancer somehow were held at bay after he amended the error of his ways once he bowed his knee to his God.
Two bouts of covid-19 and vascular dementia could not condemn Stan to an overly brutal loss of his faculties or premature entrance into the grave. While Cindy suspended her usual medical activities in order to care for Stan upon their return to Florida, he wholeheartedly endorsed her commitment to a health and wellness educational ministry by allowing her to test out various methods of remedy for his numerous maladies with notable benefit.
An abrupt onset of end-stage kidney failure and associated liver disease, likely precipitated by irreversible arterial damage, ultimately paved the way for Stan’s approaching departure, as if the expiration date stamped upon his flesh at conception had finally arrived. Phenomenally tender and expert hospice care at home was graciously rendered to Stan during his concluding week. After his last breath and the final beat of his heart, his body evoked the solitary tear he shed throughout his dying ordeal, signifying he had reached his destination and now beheld his Beloved. Stan calmly and resolutely moved on with courage, having found the peace that passes understanding.
Stan Tuten steadfastly packed an abundance of life into that dash connecting 5/5/1934 to 8/16/2023, encouraging himself and others with “There will be better days ahead” whenever circumstances dealt out a difficult hand. Asked on his deathbed what he most desired, he replied it was heaven where his Savior dwells that he longed for, then and throughout his more than 30 years of being in love with Jesus. Which is just the beginning of eternity.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.
2 Corinthians 5:21
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Aiming to go out in a blaze of glory, Stan arranged for Allen-Summerhill Funeral Homes and Crematory to accommodate his request. Not one for somber occasions, he preferred to bypass a funeral and go straight to a fun-filled memorial event for his mourners with a Celebration of Life Beach Party at New Smyrna Beach, his favorite haunt in years gone by. To honor this final wish, the specific date, time, and location will be announced to his family and friends once the fall weather extinguishes the furnace of the Florida summer and tropical systems no longer threaten to disrupt the good-natured and God-honoring festivity.
Stan preferred that any donations offered in his memory be directed to a place of Christian worship or else a non-church organization which pursues truth and charity.