Only the good die young: a tribute to Josiah Bubna

At dinner with a former Wheaton College professor this evening, I was devastated to receive news of a former classmate’s sudden, tragic death: Josiah Bubna was only 22 when he died suddenly Saturday afternoon.

We shared duties on the Wheaton Record’s editorial staff, shared a classroom in Dr. Graves’ Introduction to Old Testament class sophomore year, and ultimately shared the stage at Wheaton’s graduation a little over a year ago. Though the memories I have of him may be fewer than those of my closest friends, the ones that sprung to my mind were touching and heart-warming, and ones I want to share because they showcase his Christ-centered, eternal qualities that should be celebrated.

Josiah and I both worked on the Wheaton Record’s editorial staff for a year. He was the advertising/circulation manager, and was always the one to pick up extra distribution duty for someone who had class or too much homework to run around campus handing out papers. This was partly due to his varsity-football-player-physique (his biceps were thicker than my neck), but mostly due to his kindhearted compassion. The warmth that emanated from his beaming face every time I came into the office was comforting (especially when I was under deadline), and his laid-back demeanor was welcoming in a place that thrived on deadlines and pressure.

He was a hard worker – which is why it’s so sad to think his life ended after a workout on Wheaton’s track, something he’d done countless times before as a varsity football player. I hadn’t heard from him since graduation last year, but according to his obituary, he spent the past year working for Samaritan’s Purse in Japan, helping tsunami victims with reconstruction and relief, which doesn’t surprise me one bit – it fits with the commitment he publicly made to serve Christ and His Kingdom as a devoted Wheaton College student, and graduate.

He also met his fiancee in Japan. They were set to be married in August.

Here is an excerpt from a Wheaton College memo circulated by Chaplain Stephen Kellough this week:

It is with deep sorrow that we report to the Wheaton College community the sudden and unexpected death of Josiah Bubna, class of 2011, who died Saturday afternoon (July 7).

While exercising at the Wheaton College track, Josiah sat down to rest and then collapsed. He had been running with his fiancée, Rebekah Falcone. CPR was administered immediately at the scene before the arrival of paramedics. Josiah was transported by ambulance to Central DuPage Hospital where it was determined that he had not survived.

Josiah and Rebekah were in the midst of planning their wedding set for August 11. They had met a year ago in Japan where they were both serving with Samaritan’s Purse.

Josiah’s parents, Joel and Elin Bubna, and his sisters, Angele (age 15) and Nadia (age 13) were all in Wheaton preparing for the wedding. The Bubnas are a missionary family ministering in Senegal, Africa. Rebekah is from New York state.

Pastoral care for the Bubna family is being provided by the staff of the Blanchard Alliance Church. Visitation will be held on Wednesday, July 11, from 5—8 p.m. at Hultgren Funeral Home, 304 N. Main Street, Wheaton, IL. A memorial service will be held on Thursday, July 12, at 12 p.m. at the Blanchard Alliance Church at 1766 S. Blanchard Street, Wheaton, IL.

A complete obituary can be found at the Hultgren website.

Please uphold the Bubna family and Josiah’s fiancée, Rebekah, in your prayers in these very difficult days.


Stephen B. Kellough
Wheaton College

Josiah’s family, with his fiancee by his side, is pictured below (courtesy Facebook, July 2012). His smile is what I’ll always remember him for – and his kind, gentle heart. His family, and fiancee, will be in my prayers – but I know my words and affirmations are not enough to comfort those who have lost loved ones far too soon. It’s frustrating to know I have no idea why this had to happen, but the problem of evil is too immense for me to fathom in my head on my own, so I turn to the Bible to lead me with these words while I trust Josiah, up there with Jesus, has it all figured out in glory:

“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” -1 Corinthians 13:12-

Pulpit rock

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