So Long Rev: Remembrance, fond farewell for Tremba
Hundreds of people filled the sanctuary last Thursday at Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church for the last “Storied Evening” with the beloved Randy Tremba as pastor.
There was a palpable spirit of warmth and love toward Tremba as the crowd paid rapt attention to stories of Tremba’s years in service to the church and to Shepherdstown.
The master story teller spoke of becoming an ordained as a minister in southern California, but then losing interest in ministry after suffering a personal loss. He moved to W.Va. and began working at an apple orchard in his early 20s. He later discovered Shepherdstown at the suggestion of one of his co-workers.
“On a Saturday morning in December I drove Halltown Pike,” said Tremba. “I came across the railroad tracks, turned right on Princess, turn left on German Street. I thought I had driven on to a movie lot. I had never seen a town like that.”
On that day, Tremba explored Shepherdstown and ventured into the unlocked Presbyterian Church.
“I walked in an looked around this room (church sanctuary),” said Tremba. “It was kind of drab. Everything was cold and worn out. I just took it in-never thought I’d be back. Looking back, something was taking me in.”
Everyone in the audience laughed when Tremba said, “I really liked this small town. I thought it had a metaphysical harmony. It had 8 churches and 8 bars.”
Tremba continued telling stories of people he had met, some local legends that were known by many in the room and his unplanned leap into ministry at the church on July 4th1976. What Tremba thought would only be a temporary preaching job, turned into a 41 year ministry.
Tremba recalled some of the most memorable funerals and weddings at which he officiated, over 250 of each, including the weddings of his three children.
Tremba was presiding at one wedding where he met and had a conversation about baseball with Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia.
Tremba had met Former W.Va. Senator, Robert Byrd on more than one occasion and went to Byrd’s office in Washing to discuss pending (at the time) legislation about flag burning.
The Good News newspaper, a free quarterly paper was started by Tremba, as well as the popular Rumsey Radio Hour show and the Storied Evening series.
Mary Ellen Lloyd, one of the church leaders at Shepherdstown Presbyterian said, “I’ve been watching from countless stands and behind the scenes for the 40 plus years Randy’s been in our town. While he is an innovator with a very creative mind, he’s also a nurturer-an incredible nurturer. He’s the guy who take other people’s vague ideas and brings them to life. He’s the one who takes your dreams and pushes you to turn it into reality. He’s the guy who coaxes and prods us along, the one who finds the right mix of people and venues to make things-fabulous things-happen.”
Saturday morning there was a reception for Tremba and Sunday he gave his final invocation at the church. Although Presbyterian rules dictate that he must separate from his church upon retirement, he and his wife plan to remain in Shepherdstown.