Dan Nagele’s Eulogy

I had a few people ask for a copy of the eulogy that I read today at Dan’s funeral. Below are the words that I said.

Me and Dan at the Hearts On Fire Christmas Banquet in 1994
Me and Dan at the Hearts On Fire Christmas Banquet in 1994

Hi, my name is Todd Porter and Dan Nagele was my youth pastor growing up.

Daniel Alan Nagele was born on August 1, 1962 in Kingston, NY and was the youngest son of David and Dorrene Nagele (both predeceased). He was also predeceased by his wife and best friend, Loretta, his sister Martha, and brother Robert. He is survived by children: Shanna (Nicholas) Cunningham, Kyra and Elianna Nagele; grandchildren: WiniJean and Dane Cunningham; siblings: Ralph and David Nagele. special friend: Judy Viken; nieces, nephews, cousins, and many friends.

Dan was not just my youth pastor growing up. He was my mentor and one of my dearest friends as I became a husband, father and pastor. I would not be the man that I am today if it were not for him.

When Dan first interviewed to be the youth pastor at Utica Evangelistic Center I did not like him, nor want him to be our youth pastor. I was pretty vocal about this to people I knew and my mom told Dan as much. Well, Dan got the job and set out to show me God’s love for me, because that is the kind of person Dan was. Dan oozed the love of his leader and forgiver, Jesus. Eventually, I came to realize that Dan was a very good guy and as a wayward teen, who was not following Jesus, I was also introduced to God’s Son and the love that He had for me through Dan’s example.

Dan didn’t just believe in the love and forgiveness that God had for him Dan lived that love and forgiveness. I remember Dan telling us a story about a time when he was the youth pastor at another church and how Dan had broken his leg playing basketball with the teens. Dan fell to the ground screaming in pain, “praise Jesus, I broke my leg!” I can assure you that if it happened to me I would not have even thought to say that. But that is who Dan was. A teen there made the decision to receive Jesus as his Leader and Forgiver that day, because of Dan’s example of faith.

Dan has faced a lot of tough situations in his life. It almost felt like at times I was watching the life of Job from the Bible being lived out before me and Dan was saying the same thing that Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him…” (Job 13:15 NIV) No matter what tough things came Dan’s way he always placed his hope in Jesus, the One who created the heavens and the earth.

But it wasn’t just about his own hope or faith. Dan wanted others to know it as well, which is why he became a pastor. He wanted to share that same hope and forgiveness with others. Especially teenagers. Dan took our youth group at UEC on many mission trips. Scotland, Arizona, Mexico, and who could forget the drama trips to Canada, New York, Pennsylvania and even local ones in Michigan. We learned not just how to put on whiteface and mime Carmen songs, but we also learned how to love one another and forgive one another.

I know that most of my references for Dan are in regard to him as a youth pastor, but I am pretty sure that most of you here today can relate to what I am talking about. That message of love, hope and forgiveness is something that Dan preached in every avenue of his life. Whether it was as a lead pastor at the church he pastored here in New York, or as a father, grandfather, brother, uncle, or friend. Dan’s life was lived pretty consistent with love, hope and forgiveness.

I am positive that if Dan was able to speak to each of us today he would plead with you to receive Jesus as your Leader and Forgiver. He would encourage you to accept the free gift of salvation that comes from God sending His only Son, born of a virgin, to this earth to die for your sins. But it didn’t end there because Jesus defeated death and rose from the grave to give us the hope that when we do accept His sacrifice that we, too, can rise and be with Jesus. Because you see that is where Dan is now. It stinks that he isn’t here with us now, but the hope that we have in Jesus is that today is not a goodbye, but it is a see you later.

Dan, I hate that you are not here with me for me to hug you and tell you how much I love you, but I WILL see you later.