A Tribute to a High School Principal

Mr. Roub was principal of my elementary, middle, and high school from the time I was six until the time I graduated. There may have been a year or two in there where he was on a well-deserved furlough and Mr. Nygren took over, but overall it was Mr. Roub.

He was a big man with a booming voice, strong presence, and a heart that embraced his staff and students. Mr. Roub was a leader in every sense of the word.

He was a man entrusted with the overall leadership of a small school in the foothills of the Himalayan mountain range in Pakistan. A man whose primary job was to serve the mission community by using his leadership skills in an educational setting. And he was a man who did his job with integrity and grace.

Through the years, our small school, primarily made up of missionary kids, experienced almost everything that a large high school in the United States would. Although home churches and mission agencies may have wanted to deny it, there were drugs, smoking, revolts and rebellions, staff/student tension, suicide attempts, deaths, eating disorders, and more. All these took place in a complicated context – a small, Christian sub-culture in the middle of a Muslim country. It took incredible wisdom and sometimes just pure grit and determination to work at the school and believe in its mission. Mr. Roub had all of that and more.

Because he was in our mission agency, I often called him Uncle Chuck. We were like extended family and the auntie and uncle labels were used all the time. In the absence of blood family, we didn’t need a Mister or a Missus. We needed something more and the auntie and uncle title put more responsibility onto us, and onto those given the title.

I grew up knowing Uncle Chuck as principal of our school and as friend to my dad. At one point in my dad’s work in Pakistan, he was deeply discouraged. In the absence of telephones, email, and other instant communication, Uncle Chuck took an overnight train that took 18 hours to visit my dad- just to encourage him. When my parents would come to Murree, they always visited, and often stayed, with the Roubs.

This became more complicated when I reached my teen years and I had all sorts of reasons to spend time in the Principal’s office. I remember showing up at his house one night with a guilty conscience, confessing that I had smoked cigarettes. Smoking was absolutely forbidden, as it is in most high schools, and I had bought K-2 cigarettes and had a go with them on the grounds outside of the school. K-2 cigarettes were named after the famous K-2 mountain and boasted a pristine picture of the mountain on the outside, with unfiltered ghastly cigarettes on the inside.

K-2

My conscience was strong, and I found myself in the Roub’s living room making up a story about “a friend who I knew was smoking.What on earth should I do?” Being a man of wisdom, he asked the right questions and quickly knew that “the friend” was me. He gave me a punishment, but he did more. He absolved me, like a priest would, prayed with and for me, and sent me on my way. I never smoked again, more importantly – this was the last time I was ever in the “principal’s office.” 

To my knowledge, he never allowed my bad behavior to affect his relationship with my parents, nor his overall view of me.

Uncle Chuck was also my American History teacher during my senior year of high school. I should probably not admit that, because my understanding and knowledge of American History is appalling. I simply saw no need to learn it, but I do remember that it was an incredibly fun class.

A year after I graduated from high school I saw Uncle Chuck in Wheaton, Illinois at a gathering of missionary kids. He wanted to know how I was, how nursing school was going for me. I asked him about the school, a place I had ached for every day since I left. “You know,” he said “the last couple of years, including your year, were years of great spiritual growth and impact. Staff and students are getting along better than they ever have. Morale is high. It was a good year.” He smiled and his eyes were misty as he talked.

That brief conversation invited me to see the school not as a student, but through his eyes, the man at the helm. I was given the gift of perspective and saw what the most important thing was for this man. He longed to see hearts change and grow; more than anything he longed for students and staff to love God.  That’s what he prayed for, that’s what he lived for. The magnitude of this hit me in a way it couldn’t have when I was a student.

Chuck Roub died on New Year’s Day. The posted announcement was followed by many comments speaking to the man that he was, thanking him for his life, for his faithfulness, for his example of grace, and for his leadership.

As one commenter said, Uncle Chuck was a “Giant of a man.” His family will grieve their loss, even as they know he is finally home.

As for Uncle Chuck, he has fought the good fight, he has finished the race, he has kept the faith.* Is there anything better? 

*Paraphrased from 2 Timothy 4:7 NIV

 

12 thoughts on “A Tribute to a High School Principal

  1. Absolution is such an amazing expression of grace! So many Christians don’t exercise that authority, preferring to keep people under their manipulative thumbs with guilt and shame. Uncle Chuck sounds like a very wise and gifted man.

    I’m in my 50s now and still refer to my friends’ parents (those still living) as “uncle” and “aunt”.

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  2. A GOOD MAN, A GOOD FRIEND AND A GOOD LEADER IN THE CHURCH IN PAKISTAN. AND A VERY COMPETENT ADMINISTRATOR WHO HAD TO BE REPLACED BY 3 PEOPLE WHEN WE ALL RELUCTANTLY LET HIM RETIRE.
    Chuck also had the ability to talk most people into doing any job that he thought that they were capable of. A great gift.
    Thanks for the friendship he afforded to the Murray family

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  3. Thank you so very much, dear sister in law. I need to sit down and write some of my memories of “Mr. Roub” as he was to us of another mission group!! My dad worked closely with him, too, though and one time when my brother and I came home complaining bitterly about the staff and how awful they were, Dad sat us down and actually said that he would rather leave Pakistan than to have his own kids be so negative. I was shocked, but from then on I was willing to look more at the staff’s side of things and while I did not always “get it,” I really did not want to leave Pakistan!! What is very sad is that several years ago we heard that once when the Roubs had been invited to some class reunion, or an MCS reunion of some sort, someone who was close to Chuck said that he said he would not go to any reunions of MCS alumni because he felt he had “failed the school.” We were pretty shocked since we had never heard anything, in general, negative about him. We tried to see them once in awhile when we visited St. Paul and let them know how much they had meant to us. Hopefully he NOW KNOWS what his legacy was and that he will know that he is BLESSED for a job WELL DONE!!

    Thanks again–xoxoxo

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  4. Thank you, Marilyn. I wrote Chuck and Eloise some years ago my deep appreciation of their being there for our several children who attended MCS. One incident I remember was when one of our adolescents felt deeply hurt and wronged and with no parent around, took their grief to Uncle Chuck. The child was ready to give up on MCS and boarding life. Uncle Chuck listened to the outpouring and then…. The now adult child told me that Chuck’s response completely changed their outlook. His love and humility left a life-long impact. He apologized for the failure of MCS in the child’s life.

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    1. I so appreciate hearing this Mildred. Thank you so much. The servant-heart that isn’t afraid of being weak, isn’t afraid to be humble – that was Chuck, wasn’t it?

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  5. While I don’t know your Uncle Chuck, having a mentor such as him in your life is a blessing that only grows more dear! I am thankful for my own “uncle” and “aunt” Chucks ! Blessings indeed!

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  6. I remember talking to a staff member of an MK school in a neighbouring country, She had been at MCS in her early years and as she looked back she said the greatest difference between the 2 schools and their growth was Chuck Roub. That stability in administration was a great gift to MCS. Chuck was also an amazing servant. I tried to book the school transport in from Murree one Sunday, sauntered down the hill from where I’d had lunch and there was Chuck, catching a few winks at the wheel. It was likely the only rest he got that day.. I had expected the school driver and questioned him as to why he was driving. He hadn’t wanted to keep the driver for one run and rather than cancel my outing, he was there himself. I saw over and over again, parents wanting a certain dentist or special care for their child outside of regular school runs. If Chuck could do it, he would. His kindness to each of us was something that led to loyalty and respect and a great pattern for us.

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    1. Eunice, what a special memory! We saw this quality in Chuck so many times. We missed them so much when they left our work in Sindh to go to MCS, but it was there that they were able to serve the whole mission community in Pakistan. I never saw it myself, but heard the report from someone else of the night watchman on his rounds who often saw a light in the Principal’s office as early as 4:30 AM. Looking in the window he saw Roub Sahib in his knees praying. A special man, friend, humble servant leader. May the Lord raise up this kind of servant from this generation!

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  7. “Grace” is the word that first comes to mind when thinking of Chuck Roub: your picture totally hits the spot, Marilyn. Thank you

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  8. Thank you Marilyn… this is so good and yes, what a man… we will miss him, he did fight the good fight and there is no greater thing that can be said… you are right.

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  9. Thank you for this tribute to Mr. Roub. You not only showed me a snapshot of life at that mission school, but you also gave a precious glimpse of the life and ministry of this man. God bless his memory, and be with all those who miss him.

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