Bob Warren was a man strongly committed to the education profession and to serving God in his Christian life.
Mr. Warren, a lifelong educator who made his home in the tiny town of Norwood in neighboring Warren County, died Thursday, Jan. 14, following a bout with cancer. He was 63.
A large crowd, many of them educators along with current and former students, packed into a small church in Norwood to remember Mr. Warren during funeral services this past Sunday.
Maggie Keene, a student at Briarwood Academy where Mr. Warren had served as the AP English department head for the past 41/2 years, was among those who spoke during the funeral services about what her teacher meant to her and others.
"Never again will it be the same," said Miss Keene, who lives in Thomson. "Never again will that voice be what fills our ears at 8 o'clock on a Monday morning. And even though we heard the same stories at least a dozen times, so many were left untold. God lent a very special man to the world to touch the lives of many and that's exactly what Mr. Warren did."
Miss Keene said one of her fondest memories of her teacher was during his first year at Briarwood Academy.
"I was one of his seventh-grade students that year," she said. "Never will I forget the rendition of Back in Black that he performed with our class at the homecoming pep rally. Every time the thought of him in that crazy wig finds its way into my head, a smile finds its way to my face."
She said one of students' favorite things in the classroom was to get Mr. Warren to go off the subject.
"And just how did we do this exactly," she asked. "Two words: war stories. No matter how many times we had heard a particular story, we always begged him to tell it one more time just in case we hadn't heard it or didn't remember hearing them.
"He enjoyed sharing his accounts of war with us and I think it's safe to say that we loved hearing them. Just why we loved hearing them I'm sure is quite obvious. And on those rare occasions when Plan A for putting off our work failed us, we moved on to Plan B -- Bingo. Unfortunately, Plan B didn't have a very high success rate."
Miss Keene described Mr. Warren as a man with varied titles: servant, husband, father, Papa, teacher, mentor and friend.
"He taught his students so much more than English in the 41/2 years he spent at Briarwood," added Miss Keene.
"He was such a kind man, who had a huge heart for teaching. All that knew Mr. Warren were incredibly blessed by God through him. Words can't express just how much he meant to so many people in the Briarwood family and in the world around us. Thank God for all of the memories you made with him over the years."
She closed by saying, "Although hearts are heavy for he is no longer with us, rejoice, for he is with our Maker in a place of incomprehensible beauty and happiness."
Quoting Marcus Tullius Cicero, Miss Keene said, "That last day does not bring extinction to us, but change of place."
Briarwood Academy Headmaster John Hammond said Mr. Warren "had a tremendous impact" on the lives of the children at the school.
"They loved him greatly," Mr. Hammond said.
He said Mr. Warren's attitude in life "was one of great optimism. He always conveyed that to children in such a positive way. He's going to be greatly missed."
The longtime headmaster said he knew Mr. Warren well enough to know that he wouldn't want students moping around and feeling sad because he is no longer around.
"He would want to see them get up and go on with life," said Mr. Hammond. "In order to honor his life, we need to show those qualities."
Another administrator at Briarwood Academy, Clayton Parrish, remembered Mr. Warren, too.
"Bob Warren loved teaching in the classroom," said Mr. Parrish. "He became one of the most fabulous teachers at our school."