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Remembering C. Russell Deibler

A History Of
C. Russell Deibler

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It was now May 1943 and it was now 14 months since Russell had been taken away.

She was only three hours away by car but did not learn of Russell's death until two months later when a Roman Catholic priest smuggled news to her. She also learned that Dr. Jaffray had died on his filthy prison cot July 29, 1945, ironically two weeks before hostilities ceased and the prisoners were freed.

Then someone called that she was wanted at the commander's office. Darlene recalled, "My heart was very heavy; I had to be alone for a moment. I walked to a nearby spring, knelt down, and splashed water on my face trying to staunch my tears. "Lord, this is a very bitter thing for Mrs. Jaffray and Margaret to bear. If only Dr. Jaffray could have been spared until they had some time together, or if they had been told a month ago, they would have had time to adjust, at least in a measure. They were expecting to see him this very afternoon. That is such unwarranted cruelty on the part of the Japanese not to inform them at once. Lord, comfort them! And me: Lord, how much I wanted to talk to him about Russell's death. He would have known all about it. Did you really have to take him at this time?"
By the time I got to the office, the Lord had calmed my heart. A Dutch gentleman was there, who stood up when I entered. He looked inquiringly at me, then asked, " Are you Mrs. Deibler?"
"Yes, I am."
"What's your name?"
"I'm Mrs. Deibler."
"Sorry, I mean your….er…uh__" he paused, and I realized he was searching for a word. "Oh, you mean my given name? It's Darlene."
"Darlene, Darlene, yes, you're the one. I'm Dr. Goedbloed. I'm the one who attended your husband when he was sick, and I was with him when he died. Please sit down." He proceeded to tell me that Russell had had dysentery, as had many others in the camp; but when their rations were cut and the food was poor, Russell lost a lot of weight and became increasingly weaker. "The problem was that our rice was musty and full of worms. If he had been well, he might have been able to eat it anyway, like the rest of us, but being so ill, he just couldn't. He tried, but it came back up. We made a rice gruel for him, but even that he could not keep down for long, so he became dehydrated. If it had just been the dysentery, I think I might have saved him, but he had a serious heart condition. That was the cause of his death. At some time he must have put a terrible strain on this heart, damaging it, and it just gave out. I'm so sorry I did everything for him that I knew to do, but we did not have the medicines or the facilities we needed. I came because I wanted you to know that for the last four hours before he died, he kept calling for you, "Darlene." I and every man in the camp who we thought might have some influence with the Japanese begged them to fetch you, but they refused. He passed away at midnight on the 28th of August 1943. I wanted you to know that his last thoughts before going to heaven were of you, Darlene. He was such a good man."

The first night I thought I'd go crazy with grief, but God- how precious He has been to me. The heartache is still there but the terrible hurt has left me. Hardly a man from that camp where Russell was confined fails to tell me what a man of God he was-so kind and how much he was loved by all. I guess his lifework was finished and I know that his is the greater joy. Someday I shall see him again with my Saviour who has healed my broken heart.