‘Huge shock’ in Palos Hills: Longtime pastor dies hours before Sunday’s service

Pastor Roger Disque gave a 47-minute sermon on July 12 at the First Baptist Church in Palos Hills about the evil in the world.

In the middle of the sermon he spoke of constant change faced by people every day.

“You know, when you look at our world, it is on shaky ground,” Disque told the congregation. “There is nothing stable in this world today. For the minute you think you found something, it changes. There is change all around us.’’’

One week later, members of First Baptist Church found his words to ring true an a tragic way as the man who served as pastor of their church for 27 years died Sunday, hours before he was set to deliver another message at the 11 a.m. service. For some members, he was the only pastor they knew.

Pastor Disque, 72, arrived at the church early to turn the air conditioning on for the 9:45 a.m. Sunday school class.

“It was hot and humid and he just collapsed in the parking lot,” his daughter, Erica Neff,  said. “This was a huge shock. We’re still not sure what caused it. He’s had some minor medical issues but we weren’t expecting this. He was not one to slow down.’’

A wake service arranged by Schmaedeke Funeral Home of Worth will be held at First Baptist Church, 11015 S. Eastwood Dr., in Palos Hills from 5 to 9 p.m. today, Thursday.

The funeral service with be held at 11 a.m. Friday at and the church will be open at 10 a.m. for viewing.

The burial service will immediately follow the funeral at Chapel Hill Gardens South Cemetery, 11333 South Central Ave. in Oak Lawn.The funeral dinner will be at the Garden Chalet, 11000 South Ridgeland Ave. in Worth.

Disque was the sixth pastor in the church’s history and he owned the longest tenure. Before coming to Palos Hills, he served 17 years as the youth director and assistant pastor at Bethany Church in Chicago’s inner city.

Those who knew him as a serious orator at the Palos Hills church might be surprised at his demeanor early in his career.

“He was goofy and crazy,” Neff said. “I know people might find that hard to believe. He would build haunted houses and enjoyed having fun with the kids.’’

Neff said Pastor Disque loved God, his family and his country. Disque was a Navy veteran who looked forward to helping put together a float to honor the military for the Independence Day parade in Palos Heights each year.

“To sum it up in one word, he was a ‘servent’,’’ Neff said. “He was the silent, strong type who served God, his family and other people. He tried to meet the needs of everyone.’’

Brother Dave Horner, a youth director and music/choir director at the church said he worked with Pastor Disque for 12 years.

“This is such a surprise and very hard to grasp,” he said. “This was a man who was never too busy for anyone. He was always visiting members of the church, even if they were having minor surgery. He was available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He was always shepherding his flock.’’

Horner said the church has between 75-120 members and is close-knit because many members are related to each other. He said there is a large Filipino representation among the members.

Survivors include his wife, Judy (nee Anderson) along with children Rachel (Jim) Garrison, Nathan (Meredith) Disque and Neff, who is married to Robert Neff. Also surviving is his sister Nancy (Fred) Shepper and 13 grandchildren.

He was born in Tarrytown New York and attended Bob Jones University in 1971 before coming to the Chicago area.

“He loved his people and loved his Lord,” Horner said. “He gave of his life in abundance to everyone. I enjoyed working with him for 12 years. He was a wonderful man.’’

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