When I arrived at Meadville Lombard for my stint as minister-in-residence last year I was quite anxious when I learned that my apartment on campus was at the top of a three-storey building. Really nice apartment. Really nice. The problem was my back wouldn’t allow me to carry my luggage (and I’m what they used to call a steamer-trunk traveller). I expressed my anxiety to the harried person sitting at the desk when someone standing nearby said, “Don’t worry, I’ll get your luggage upstairs.”
That was Cornelius Lockhart. I looked at him and thought what a nice generation the new crop of ministerial students are. However, Cornelius, it turned out, was the maintenance assistant on campus. Let me underscore, this wasn’t in his job description. He just volunteered.
We spoke a number of times during my months at Meadville. Among other things we discussed California and how he thought he might want to end up there someday. As much as I like Chicago, I thought this showed he was particularly intelligent. He was kind and generous, and one of those people who make life in an institution more pleasant for everyone by his presence.
So, it was shocking to visit the Meadville website and learn Cornelius had been murdered at the beginning of July.
Lee Barker, President of Meadville Lombard wrote the following.
I received news of the murder of Meadville Lombard’s maintenance assistant, Cornelius Lockhart, late yesterday afternoon as I was driving back to Chicago at the end of a July 4th outing with my family. Like all of you I am devastated by this news. Indeed I have not yet fully absorbed it. Cornelius was a joy to have had on our staff. Details about this murder are beginning to emerge. Those details are helping me to begin to cope. And, one day, I hope they will help his children, as well. It appears that Cornelius was trying to break up an altercation between others when he was stabbed by one of those he was attempting to calm. That was Cornelius all the way: trying to make a bad situation a little bit better. I guess that it is our work to do, too. It is a violent world and ours is to bring it some peace and harmony. Such acts of goodness can’t, and won’t, end with the life of Cornelius Lockhart.
So hard to comment.
I know he’ll be missed by many…