Randall recently celebrated his 100th birthday, but seems like a young 81 year-old. Attempting to encapsulate an entire century of life would be a foolhardy experiment, so let us focus on moments throughout that century.
Being fervent Protestants, he and his wife became missionaries just before World War II. The organization they worked for sent them to Indonesia, then known as the East Indies. During this time, Japan invaded Indonesia and Randall was removed from both his wife and their infant daughter when they were sent to different internment camps. They spent the next three and a half years apart from each other. In his camp, Randall used his sharp business-oriented mind to smuggle goods to and from local villages so that he and his fellows prisoners could have comforts like duck eggs and coffee. In his memoirs he calls the skills he learned while in the internment camps a “tuition-free college education”.
After the war, Randall and his wife and daughter were reunited and returned to the US only to return to Indonesia three years later. Randall worked in a plethora of capacities, including missions, business ventures, and humanitarian efforts. One of the accomplishments he is most proud of, however, is establishing a banking program to benefit widows in Cambodia who lived under Pol Pot’s regime; the program still exists to this day.
Randall has an admirably open and curious mind. He spent roughly 40 years in Indonesia, many of which as a Christian missionary, yet he recalls Indonesia’s Islam fondly. He respects that two religions can work together for the benefit of their neighbors. “Learn as you go” is a mantra that he holds so near to his heart that he once toyed with the idea of changing his middle name to “Laygo”. Randall’s life has indeed been marked by learning. He has learned skills in marketing, to play the violin, mastered three languages (English, Bahasa Indonesia, Dutch), and earned a pilot’s license so that he could fly planes in Indonesia.
As is to be expected, Randall has also suffered hardships. The pilot who flew with him in Indonesia crashed into a mountain while flying solo; his body was found a year later, buried in a 55 gallon drum, and interred in a crevasse on the same mountain. His younger brother, who was a conscientious objector during WWII (Randall praises him for enlisting as a medic and helping wounded soldiers), passed on a number of years ago. And of course, it is difficult to imagine the pain of having an infant daughter taken from you to be imprisoned during a war. When speaking of his firstborn today, Randall says, “She’s 70, but she looks like she’s about 55. And she’s just vibrant and is just as beautiful as ever. And [I] can’t believe it, she was the one in the camp!’”
What stands out throughout all of these experiences is Randall’s gratitude. He is thankful for every memory, each challenge, and all of the good that has come from them. A century of life has shaped him into an explorer, a risk taker and father; truly a man unlike any other.