Welcome. Before we begin I would like to announce that the family invites
you to join them for refreshment straight after the ceremony. And, it would
be appreciated if you would please turn your mobiles phones off at this
time. Thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen, my name is _______________, and I am a civil
celebrant. On behalf of the family of ______________ and ____________
Funeral Home, I thank everyone for coming to share and honor the memory of
"David", as the family knew him, in this ceremony today.
Holland beautiful Holland - birth place of David in the year
1921, on the 16th of November, near Rotterdam. He was born to David and
Loyla, named after his father and one of 5 handsome brothers "Whim, Hobe,
Dick and Jaqcues" standing "Dutch proud and dignified" as you can see in
this lovely sepia colored photograph of the family. The other day at her
father's home Helena revealed to me (with a smile on her face and a twinkle
in her eye), that her father was mischievous and headstrong ever since he
was a lad. The brothers would have to attend the Dutch Reform Church 3 times
a day if they were naughty. Young David was naughty indeed, at church we
would pull the buttons off his jacket for his offertory plate and use the
"coins" to play pool with his mates.
An average student in many ways except one...David followed in the
tradition of the great Dutch masters - he was born a brilliant artist. As an
infant, instead of a baby rattle he must have had a paint brush in his
little fist. In fact, his family told me that out of the five sons he was
the only one trusted with his father's treasured working tools - because
David took great care and showed much respect for things in his life.
Trained as a painter and a decorator, and taking years to qualify, he was
highly skilled, deeply passionate and serious about his work - which is a
famous Dutch trait to be sure!
He worked painting private homes and ships in dry dock. The ships would
later call to him and their magnitude and importance would unleash his
creative spirit and set him sailing and soaring as a painter.
David was close to his brother's five. Particularly with the youngest and
the last surviving brother Jacques, sadly he could not make the journey to
be with us today to honor his brother's memory. Jacques and David shared
a very special bond, both were avid photographers and musician who found
great fulfilment in playing the organ. There brotherly friendship was an
He met and married his lovely wife Coby in Rotterdam on the 17th of
September 1947. Both were musical, David played the organ and had an
extraordinary talent to read music written vertically without missing a
beat, an art in itseIf. Coby played the mandolin but following the marriage
ceased to play The couple came to Australia when David was 26 and there
first born daughter Loes was 2 years of age. It was a long and arduous plane
trip to finally reach this new country, Australia they would now call home.
Their second daughter Helena would arrive a little later.
David continued to work as a painter and decorator in Melbourne. He had a
loyal client base who appreciated his professional and person integrity. And
as we all know, he was an absolute perfectionist - underlined and
For several years he and wife Coby had there own paint shop on Riversdale
Road in Camberwell. His extraordinary skill and aptitude for mixing paints
was unparalleled. John, his son-in-law expressed that he had a scientific
approach to his craft.
He painted not only professionally but also personally ~ copious and
magnificently vast canvases at his home studio. Subjects diverse as animals,
landscape and ships on water. An impressionist painter, David conquered
the Dutch mastery of light and dark, his painting were larger than life ~
illuminating, breathtaking and haunting.
Here's a sentence from the epilogue in Shakespeare's "The Tempest" and I
"Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Spirits to enforce, Art to enchant."
David , you have enchanted us with your art. In life, you observed on the
fringes...but in art you were set free soaring high above mediocrity.
His work was exhibited at many art shows including the prestigious Herald
Outdoor Art Show which is an annual event here in the beautiful city of
Melbourne. The former Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies acquired his work
and commercial design firms populated his nautical motifs.
David expressed his creative soul, his inner emotional self through his
works. And with that, he leaves behind a legacy of children, there children
and there children's children - with art and music evident in their lineage
I would like to share with you now, on a personal note if I may, that I was
deeply moved and felt a part of very special place as his family invited me
to "really" look at their Father's work on display everywhere on most every
wall in the house. Here was a prolific man who could miraculously paint on
huge, huge canvases. As we stepped out into the lovely garden that Loyla
created years before, now in full bloom on an early summers day ~ strangely,
the burst of pinks and oranges would pale in comparison to David's expression
and celebration of nature. He certainly brought the outside in. Truly
fantastic. Thank you for allowing me this honor.
(Hold up or point to the painted tray or David's painting.)
What kind of man was David?
His daughters describe him as complex, private, deeply human, difficult,
argumentative and shy. Some would say and many thought he was pompous and
arrogant. A man who choses the safety of social isolation.
It may have appeared that he was not interested in the rest of humanity and
yet the same man worked hard in a committed way to provide for his family
and expressed sentimentality in a way that disarmed them...keeping cards,
letters and treasured photographs of his extended family. That was David. You
see, he was in his quiet, unemotional way - proud of all of you.
Indeed an extension of the pride he felt in everything that he was...and all
that he did.
His Car, 11 years old, I believe had racked up only 50 thousand Kilometres -
immaculately kept...indicative of all we know about him.
It is true that he remained aloof and yet like many of us that search with
inner longing to connect with the world...he did the best he could.
Early on in his life his health was compromised by "Prothesis" a rare
disease. In the late 1970's he required hip surgery. The surgery was
unsuccessful...to be unable to climb a ladder, central to his profession,
devastated him and forced his early retirement.
On a positive note, following retirement, he and Coby learned and enjoyed
swimming and together accomplished competency at many levels.
The fates were not kind, ten years ago his eye sight diminished, loosing 80%
of his sight in one eye. He never painted again.
Music befriended him. He returned to playing the organ until his hard
working hands were assailed by arthritis making it impossible to play.
Coby's death, 8 years ago - further diminished him.
He guarded against showing his deep emotion but in reality he too died a
little that day. Sadly, he never recovered and he became increasingly
reclusive. No doubt grateful for the support of his family - which endured.
I would like to ask his daughters Loes and Helena to share their thoughts...
As you people are aware, David suffered depression and as it increased he
spoke of deep loneliness, the huge void in his life and concern for his
In the week of his death he experience the pain of the anniversary of Coby's
death. In his own way he missed her. Deeply expressing a longing to be with
his wife again. It was also the week of his 80th Birthday.
This highly intelligent, very contemplative man (remember he had limited use
of his precious hands and eyes) had many times contemplated his end.
The end came at time of his own choosing in his home that was his sanctuary.
The peace that had so long eluded him was now destined to be his.
During this time the family has chosen a special song for you
to listen to that David very much enjoyed..."Ik Hou Van Holland" which
translated means "My beloved Holland".
Eulogy for a woman who died at age 55 from cancer
Good afternoon. My name is ________________ and I am a civil celebrant. On behalf of Megan and Colter, I welcome every one of you to this celebration of the life of their mother Holly who died January 2, 2005. It means a great deal to them that you have come to join them in the bittersweet experience of recalling her nearly 55 years of life and in sharing your own recollections of Molly. Your presence here is important, for it is the memory of the friends who stood by them during this time that will be a source of strength and consolation to them later on, during those inevitable moments of grief and emptiness.
Molly was born in San Mateo, California, on January 11, 1950, to John, a businessman, and his wife, Catherine Louise. Molly was their second child and joined her older brother John. Three and a half years later, little sister Bridget was added to the family.
Molly grew up in northern California town, but spent her middle school and early high school years in Connecticut. Early on she showed evidence of the lively spirit that was her signature throughout her life. She was a tomboy, climbing trees, hiking in the woods and running around – once ending up on crutches for six months. She adored horses and always chose to go to ranch-style summer camps. During the summers when the family lived in the East, she and Bridget had a farm stand, selling corn and tomatoes from the family garden. By her senior year, the family moved back to California and Molly finished up at Saint Vincent High School in Petaluma.
When it was time for college, Molly came to the University of Arizona and majored in English. She transferred to UC Davis for just a semester, then came back to the U of A. Molly had a beautiful soprano voice and in these years she frequently played the guitar, accompanying herself. She had a gift for music – by just hearing a piece of music she was able to reproduce it on the guitar. Because of her lovely voice, she was enlisted to sing at many of the family weddings. In later years, when Molly went to a class reunion, taking Megan along as her date, many of her former classmates came up and recounted their memories of her singing and playing.
Molly’s first job was at the Tucson Citizen as a proofreader in 1972. She then moved into the legal field, starting as a secretary. As she became more knowledgeable, she began doing paralegal work and over the next 30 years worked for several law firms in _______. She became such an expert in personal injury that co-workers went to her for advice, and the word was, “if you need to know something about litigation, ask Molly.”
One of the friends she met in the law field was Kay G___________. They worked together for about six years but remained friends for decades, growing closer over the years as they shared experiences of raising children and pets. Another friend she met from work was Shaye E________, and we will hear from Shaye later.
In March of 1980, Molly was married to Paul ____________. By that time her mother Louise had passed on, but at Molly’s wedding, her dad read a poem that was one of Louise’s favorites and one she had frequently said reminded her of her beloved middle daughter. These are the words of Carl Sandburg.
I love you for what you are, but
I love you yet more for what you are going to be.
I love you not so much for your realities
As for your ideals.
I pray for your desires that they may be great
Rather than for your satisfactions,
Which may be so hazardously little.
A satisfied flower is one
Whose petals are about to fall.
The most beautiful rose is one hardly more than a bud
Wherein the pangs and ecstasies of desire
Are working for larger and finer growth.
Not always shall you be what you are now.
You are going forward toward something great.
I am on the way with you and therefore –
I love you.
Molly’s first child, Megan, was born in 1980, followed by little brother Colter in 1983. Although Molly continued to work in the legal field, she was dedicated to her children. She managed to “do it all” by being very organized. She took her children to the library and read to them frequently, sharing with them her own love of books, both modern titles and well-known classics. As her children got older, she was the consummate soccer mom, driving them to their games and cheering from the sidelines. If they were playing basketball or in a school play, she was there.
Molly interacted with her children according to their needs and personality. With Megan she spent Saturdays on many mother-daughter activities including such girl-y pleasures buying prom dresses. As we all know, boys would rather do anything but shop, so she took Colter to pool halls and taught him how to get those balls into the pockets. She was also an excellent Scrabble player and taught her kids the game. Megan and Colter remember that their mom always kept her sense of humor – whether that meant being a good sport during April Fool’s jokes or biting her nails while teaching her kids to drive.
In once instance when Megan was learning to drive, she pulled out of a Pima College parking lot and drove about 200 yards down the wrong lane. Molly did get a little excited while urging her to get back in the right lane, but that didn’t deter her from going out with Meghan on the next lesson.
It is important for a mom to be a good cook and Molly was. She loved to barbecue and make her kids’ favorites for their birthdays – cheesecake for Megan and chocolate mousse pie for Colter. From her days as a child in California, Molly carried with her a love of the ocean and many family vacations were spent near a beach so she could share this experience with her children.
After 20 years of marriage, Molly and Paul divorced in 2000. In 2001 Molly had a brief second marriage. Following that divorce, she took back her maiden name, O______.
With her children on their own, Molly had more time for herself and was able to focus on activities such as redecorating, listening to her favorite music on CDs and growing roses. The gardening was a further extension of her green thumb. She had always had lots of house plants and many people commented that her home resembled a jungle inside. Molly also loved the natural environment and hated to see the desecration of the desert.
Meghan and Colter remember their mother as beautiful both inside and out. “She was always positive and strong,” Meghan says. “She taught me how to be a strong intelligent woman.” Colter says, “I can always look at a life situation and think – this is how she would do it.”
Molly was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer in January of 2002. At first it appeared that surgery and chemotherapy had arrested the disease, but tragically doctors later confirmed that the cancer had spread.
But that did not defeat her. In May of 2003, Molly, Meghan and Colter traveled to Cozumel together for a week. She was a nervous traveler, but her kids – who had more experience in this arena than she – were able to calm and reassure her. Once in Mexico, they had a glorious vacation together – enjoying each other even more as they realized how precious and tenuous life can be. The three of them snorkeled in the warm turquoise water, visited the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza and every night watched the sunset together.
Those sunset moments it turned out were a metaphor for their life together. Molly kept fighting her disease to the end. She thought she would have more time, she thought she could hold on until a cure was found. So did her friends and family. Only in middle-of-the-night phone calls with Meghan and her friend Shaye would she admit that she was scared. Despite considerable pain from the disease that was spreading through her body, Molly continued working until October.
The cancer took her life just three short years from the time of diagnosis. Molly’s body has been cremated and Meghan and Colter will scatter her ashes on the ocean she loved so much.
The following reading is appropriate because of Molly’s love of plants and gardens. The writer tells of connecting with the spirit of a loved one while sitting in a garden.
Finding You in Beauty
The rays of light filtered through
The sentinels of trees this morning.
I sat in the garden and contemplated.
The serenity and beauty
Of my feelings and surroundings
Completely captivated me.
I thought of you.
I discovered you tucked away
In the shadows of the trees.
Then, rediscovered you
In the smiles of the flowers
As the sun penetrated their petals
In the rhythm of the leaves
Falling in the garden
In the freedom of the birds
As they fly searching as you do.
I’m very happy to have found you,
Now you will never leave me
For I will always find you in the beauty of life.
Meghan and Colter would now like to open the service up to others who would like to speak.
These are transcripts of actual eulogies performed by celebrants, not by people who loved the decedent.
My name is T_________ and I am a civil celebrant. On behalf of Ben, Adrienne and Joshua I welcome every one of you to this celebration of the life of Lucas W____ better known to most of as Luke or Lukey. It means a great deal to them that you have come to join them in the bittersweet experience of recalling his four short years on this earth.
Your presence here is important, for it is the memory of the friends who stood by them during this time that will be a source of strength and consolation to them later on, during those inevitable moments of grief and emptiness.
Lucas was born May 31st, 2003 at Riverside hospital, he attended Montessori School and Linda’s Daycare, and Luke loved both of them.
It is important that we start this eulogy with the things that Lucas loved to do, the things that made Luke, Luke.
Riding on his gator
Burping his ABC’s
He loved rocks
He loved playing games with his brother
Fighting with his brother
Playing cats and dogs with Elise
Play with his cousin Elise, Luke would say “I am a little black dog, with a red collar, and no nails and I don’t bite and my name is Cakeee.
Luke loved to play hide and go seek
He liked to play a game “Catch the poopy monster”
Luke and Josh loved Tom and Jerry
Luke would eat anything; whatever you were eating Luke would always say “Can I have a bite?
He loved to be tickled and loved when Grandma Ruth rubbed his feet.
He loved Dinosaurs and the Land before Time movie’s.
He loved his boots and his crocs.
He loved being outside and would just wait for other kids to play with. He just loved being social.
His favorite song was “Shake your booty”.
He loved tattoos
When Luke started fights with brother, Josh would catch him and give him a huge bear hug never usually hitting him back.
Luke loved to play in the sand box.
He hated brushing his teeth and taking a bath and lotion
When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up Luke replied “All I want to be is an uncle.”
Luke loved being Luke
He was so feisty, that when the symptoms started, even when he was dizzy or could barely walk, he would still play on his swing set. Luke wanted to play, he needed to be where the action was. He hated being sick, he would be so sick at home with his pink puke bucket, he could hardly walk and was so tired. Adrienne said, “I would take him to the doctor and he would put on an act, somehow pass all the neurological test. I would swear to the doctor he was sick. As soon as we would get to the elevators, he would break down again, he did not want to admit to being ill.”
Most of us would collapse under the weight of these challenges. But, Luke was so much more than his fragile body conveyed. Luke accepted his challenge of cancer in the same way he accepted everything: with remarkable strength, tremendous courage and with an indominatable spirit. His smile was like the sun coming out from behind a cloud, warming all that it touches. Luke conveyed more joy, contentment and hope than anything we could have imagined possible. He came to this earth to teach each of us different lessons. Learn from him, strive to be like him. Do not let his legacy end. Talk about how his life was short, but touched many.
You will hear stories today from people that knew Luke and his family best. And you will learn as you probably already know that Luke’s life was a life of snips and snails and puppy dog tails.
I now ask a dear friend and neighbor Jenny R________ to please come forward and share with us your story.
My name is Jenny R________ and, my husband,three boys, and I live across the street from the W______s. As you can imagine in warmer weather there is always a lot going on in the front yard, and one of my favorite memories of Luke is him looking out his screened front door and yelling this famous phrase, “Can I come over?” Luke wanted to be where the action was whether it was bubbles, gators, or cicadas.
I have a story that I would like to share with you all today…..There was an apprentice gardener whot had just been selected to work in the Master Gardener’s garden. The Master Gardener took great care and consideration in selecting the apprentice that would be working with him and all of His wonderful blooms throughout His garden. The Master Gardener knew this selected apprentice was the best for the job to care and nurture for His precious flowers. After several weeks of training, the Master Gardner decided to leave for awhile and let the apprentice take care of the blooms in His garden.
The apprentice was so excited to be left alone in the garden. Each day he watered and fertilized each plant ever so carefully and gently. He was especially fond of the amaryllis plant. This plant was special because he knew it was going to bloom this dazzling red bloom around Christmas. He so loved waking up each day to see how far the amaryllis had grown. One day as he was tending to all the plants he noticed the amaryllis bud was ready to bloom, and he was for sure that tomorrow morning when he awoke he would get to see the glorious red bloom of the Christmas amaryllis. The whole day was filled with anticipation and excitement to what the next day would bring. The apprentice could hardly sleep.
When dawn broke the apprentice ran from his slumber to the amaryllis plant just knowing he would find the plant ablaze with crimson petals, but when he came to the place where the amaryllis should have been, it wasn’t there. With his heart pounding he looked for the amaryllis at the next table and then the next not finding it anywhere, and when he looked up to see if it was at the next table, he saw the Master Gardner standing there. The Master Gardner looked at the apprentice and saw the anxious look on the apprentice’s face and asked, “Dear apprentice, what is wrong?” When the apprentice explained to the master Gardner that he couldn’t find the amaryllis plant anywhere, the Master Gardner smiled and placed his hand on the apprentice’s shoulder and said, “My apprentice, I can see that you are upset, do not worry, I have taken the beautiful amaryllis plant home for me to enjoy and tend to, I know you have loved and taken wonderful care of my precious plant, thank you, well done, dear apprentice.”
In this story, figuratively, God is the Master Gardner and each one of us is his special plants. And those of us that are blessed enough to be called parents are the apprentices. And similar to this story God perfectly selected Luke’s parents to nurture and love him in Ben and Adie. Many of us are lucky enough to see the sprouts, buds and blooms of our plants while we are here on earth; however some plants like precious Lucas, the Lord has taken home to see him bloom in his garden.
As I finish I want to share one vision that I have had in my mind these past few days that has given me much comfort…..as Luke lay in his hospital bed preparing to depart from this world, I could hear Luke say to God, “Can I come over?’ and then God reaching out to Lucas saying, “Yes, precious Lucas, please come play and bloom in my garden.”
Grandma Jayne (Nan) said, “Luke loved his birthday!! He was always so happy, I remember him rolling around the floor.” Luke’s Grandpa John H______ wrote a poem, I will read it on behalf of the H______’s
I still see your shadow
Your laugh lingers on
When I dream, were all back together
Then I wake up and your gone.
It’s strange here without you
This was meant to be
So Lucas up in heaven
Please wait for me.
The F__________ family are neighbors and good friends of the W____, Kim said, ”They are like family to us, my boys Joshua and Jared loved Luke and they are going to miss him”.
A great friend, Erika said, “When I was asked to say a few things about Luke so many things came to mind.
Luke has touched so many people in so many ways. Ella and I will miss walking into Linda's every morning and him say HI Ella HI Erika (it sounded like Aka) his big smile and ready to play attitude.
Luke was always up for anything the kids were doing. When they come to the house to visit the kids would always be busy playing chase the poopie monster or being an animal of some sort.I will miss him wearing his boots, or his crocs on the wrong foot. It never stopped him he really could have cared less.
I will miss Luke losing his Spiderman at my house and needing to bring some toy home until we found it, or just bringing home a toy because he knew we would let him. We would get a kick out of watching him play play station with Jeff and Josh and knowing the controller was not hooked up but he thought he was playing anyway.I could go on and on about what we will miss about Luke our family has a lot of memories,a lot of laughs,and a lot of cries.
I do not think anyone can understand why this happens or to make any sense of such a loss? I pray for Ben, Adie,and Josh to get strength and comfort in his memories and
knowing he is watching them from above and keeping them safe.”
My thoughts are with you always.
Adrienne’s sister Annette said, “I love Lukey Luke as if he was my own son. He is my daughter's best friend. I was talking to Elise about Luke dying and she said “its ok mom he still is going to be ok”. “I know that we have a strong family and that we will get through this trying time. However, I know that it will never be over; the grief will change over time and be about Luke’s life not death. I know that Luke is now with my father enjoying his new life, and I'm sure that my father is enjoying Luke. Luke was such a beautiful boy. Even in the 4 years he was here he was able to teach me that he was never predictable (nor is life), you never knew what he was going to do next “Love Aunty Annette
Grandma Ruth said, “Luke was the grandson that everyone wants, I cherish time we had together over the past 6 months. I remember picking Luke and Josh up on Wednesdays at Montessori school, I would sometimes come early so I could spend more time with the boys, Luke loved to be where the action was, sometimes he would say, “come on grandma I want to stay and play with my friends” Grandma also remembers going to dinner at Wendy’s.
Jeanne was one of Luke’s nurses. She writes so, whenever Adie would leave for the night or weekend, and her mom would stay, she would warn us (kiddingly) about making a bunch of decisions. She (Grandma, Adie's mom), and I had a very close and special connection, and we would do this thing with our fingers and point at each others eyes to let Adie know.. that we were indeed very closely connected.. and were planning things....
Anyway, this one night, grandma and I were talking - as we often did, and she asked me about pets. I said "well,when Lucas gets home, they probably shouldn't have any pets especially when he is neutropenic etc. So, probably dog and especially cats would have to go". Then she asked about fish. I said "probably not, you know the whole fungal infection thing etc". So Adie came back the next day, and we were cracking up, because she said "hey, you and my mom are getting rid of my pets, even the fish, changing the house around and everything - what else!!".. we laughed SO SO hard about that.
So whenever Grandma would stay, Adie would look at us and say "okay you two, no mischief". We would stand at the door of Lucas' room and hang onto each other's shoulders, waving bye to Adie, knowing that we were going to do just that..
One of my favorite and one of the tenderest moments though came when I was sitting Lucas up on the side of the bed, we were changing the bed, and he reached his right arm around and nuzzled into my shoulder. He would not stop. As if I wasn't in love with him enough, it was sealed that day. I told Adie then that I was simply "crazy in love" with Lucas, and I told her about the hug. I loved to
look at him, and talk to him. I told him all of the time that he had to call me on the phone when he got home and tell me everything he was doing. I always said to Adie, "you know what he'll probably say to me first??? " Probably, "hey Jeanne, you kissed me too much". That's how I imagine him.. all boy all the time, I wouldn't want it any other way - for sure..
I loved him, and still love him so very much. It will take me a very long time
(if ever) to get over this - I miss him more than he will ever know.
Love, Jeanne xo
Miss Vicky Luke’s teacher from Montessori said, “ Luke was mischievous in a cute way, you could never stay angry at him”
Linda S____ Luke’s daycare provider writes , Dear Adrienne, Ben and Josh, “Our hearts are heavy with sadness. I loved taking care of Luke, even when he was naughty, I would look at his beautiful eyes and still loved him. He loved to run to the table at lunch to get his spot at the head of the table. I loved kissing his cheeks, but I don’t think he liked it because he would wipe it off. Luke would never leave unless he had his sucker. When there were no sucks left he would tell papa. I wanted to come and see him but I waited to long. I know someday I will see Luke in heaven, because I know Jesus in my heart.” Jesus said I am the truth and the life no one comes to the father but through me.” Love Dave and Linda.
Eric P______ was the Chaplain for the W____ family at U of C Hospital. Eric said, “He was amazed how this family kept it together, how they dealt with there emotions with humor. They were a powerful example of a family. What stress they had to deal with yet they were always thinking and doing for others.
Everyone at the hospital was drawn to them, they were curious.
I was supposed to be there to help them with this terrible tragedy in life but they ended up teaching me so much. The entire family and Lucas will be missed at the hospital.
A Little Boy
Scuffed up knees, with dimples here and there,
a daring, caring, sharing heart, a mass of tossled hair.
Boundless curiosity, the spirit to explore.
Two twinkling eyes, a smiling dirty face and energy galore.
A love of life, a bit of sass, a source of untold joy. Wonderment a dream fulfillment, god’s miracle a boy.
A wonderful child life specialist at the University of Chicago Children’s Comer Hospital named Lisa C_______wrote, sang and recorded this song about Luke.
Music Cue (Play Lucas W_____)
Eulogy for a man who died at age 57 from cancer
Welcome. I am Elizabeth P______, a Funeral Celebrant. On behalf of the Q____ family, I thank everyone for coming to support the family and to honor the life of Ralph Q______. After the ceremony, the family invites you to join them at the Elm St. Grill, which is just around the corner from here.
In the words of Ralph’s favorite hero, John Wayne: “A man’s got to have a code, a creed to live by, no matter his job.” Ralph was a man who had a clear sense of right and wrong, and was consistent in what he believed. In his life and his work, Ralph lived the core values that are the Marine character – honor, courage and commitment. Perhaps it was also his proud Scottish heritage shining through, an ancient lineage of great warriors singing in his blood.
As all good warriors are, Ralph was strong and gentle. He gave his all to care for his family. Linda says, “He spoiled me rotten.” And his concern extended to those outside of his family as well, willing to help others in any way he could, almost to a fault. “He would talk to everybody and everybody would talk to him, even if he didn’t want them to”, Linda says. He was the kind of guy who, standing in a supermarket line, the person next to him would tell him their whole life story. His mother-in-law Mary, whom he affectionately called Maude, says he was the best son-in-law, and they had a wonderful relationship. She also remembers how mischievous he was – he used to purposefully annoy her by using her expensive Depression glass coasters as an ashtray.
For Ralph, punctuality was #1. His co-worker and friend, Dennis, remembers how Ralph endeared himself to his co-workers because he would arrive at work an hour to an hour and a half early every morning. He’d change into his uniform, make a pot of coffee, and relieve the worker who was on duty. If Ralph were ever late for anything, he’d be in a bad mood all day. At home and at work at the U.S. Mint, one could always count on Ralph to have a pot of good strong coffee prepared. Dennis remembers the time fellow co-worker Joe Deleo served Ralph a cup – Ralph took a sip and tasted cinnamon in it. He was so upset- just could not believe anyone would put cinnamon in coffee. The guys never let him live that down.
Now hot sauce in his coffee was another matter entirely - Ralph loved spicy food. Yes, he would put hot sauce in his coffee, and salt in his soy sauce. Suzie and her husband Michael remember the time they made fresh hot pepper powder for Ralph – they baked and ground the pepper, it was so strong they had to come back an hour later wearing masks to finish the job. In the end, Ralph tasted the powder and said: “It’s a little warm.” Dennis remembers with delight that he broke the record and finally found a hot sauce that was too hot for Ralph. He had given it to Ralph who tried it, brought it back the next day, and humbly grumbled, “I can’t eat this.”
Born January 28, 1950 to Ralph and Jeanne Lorraine King, Ralph grew up on a farm in Flint, Michigan - a very small town where he also attended a 2-room schoolhouse. He had two sisters, Marg and Bonnie, and a brother, Jerry. Ralph was tempered by the hard life he had. It is said that when he went to sleep at night he had a glass of water on his nightstand, and when he woke up, the glass was full of ice. That says a lot about the hardiness, strength and endurance he had to develop. In his youth, he learned how to work hard and demonstrated self-discipline by raising horses all on his own, working jobs and bartering to get them. His love of coffee began at age 9 -- after he’d do his morning chores in the barn, he’d come into the house and his mom would give him a cup. On a farm, there are so many tasks that just have to get done, no questions asked. Being a farmer, Ralph loved John Deere tractors, the best tractors in the world of course.
Ralph played football in Goodrich High School; and after graduating in 1968, he worked at GM for a little while, a job he hated. He then joined the Marines -- against his Dad’s wishes. He served one tour of duty, and when he returned, the job market was poor. It was August 1974. He went to the Marines recruitment office in Detroit to re-enlist, and it just so happens Linda was there, enlisting herself. Afterwards both walked to the bus station, and he started talking to Linda. She was wary of him, being that they were in Detroit. Then she found out they were taking the same bus to Flint, and they chatted the whole way home. Their courtship continued and in February of 1975, Ralph proposed while on leave. They were married that September. Their first married year together, they lived in Camp Pendleton in California, and then he was stationed for a while in Alaska. Ralph fell in love with Alaska, where he enjoyed salmon fishing with his buddies. It became his dream to live there permanently one day and work in the Juno police force.
In 1976 Ralph and Linda moved back to Michigan, where he still had difficulty finding a job. Linda became pregnant with Suzie, and Ralph took a job as deputy sheriff for the jail in Oakland County. At that point he didn’t necessarily want to be a corrections officer, he just wanted to support his family. Linda says that because of the kind of man he was, the deputy job suited him perfectly.
Suzie was born in 1977, and John in 1978. That same year, the family moved to Commerce and Ralph built a house there. Suzie and John’s earliest memories are of this house and its construction. Suzie remembers playing in the yard. John remembers the time they dug a hole in the backyard, and Ralph drove his tractor into it, not knowing the hole was there; and how they had to pull the tractor out. Linda says Ralph had the patience of a saint with the kids-- both their own, and the neighborhood kids. In the Fall, the maple trees on their property would shed tons of leaves. The kids would come to rake, but end up jumping and playing in the piles. Ralph would say nothing, and the next day, clean up the leaves properly. During this time, Ralph also went to college on the GI bill, and worked full time while attending school full time. John says his Dad would lock himself in the bedroom to study. Linda remembers how Ralph struggled with English and she helped him. As was consistent with his dedicated personality, Ralph persevered and received his two-year degree from Oakland Community College, with honors.
Ralph eventually grew tired of living in the suburbs and so in 1985, they moved to Goodrich, wherehe had purchased 5 acres of land. Linda says that Ralph was in his glory there. He had a huge vegetable garden, and as usual his goal to remodel one room turned into remodeling the entire house. Ralph loved to build, and was very handy. Then his shoulder was badly hurt on the job during a fight with prisoners; and he had to quite his job, so as not to risk hurting his shoulder again.
In 1989 they moved to Las Vegas with no job, no house to go to. They stayed in a hotel and within 3 days got an apartment; and Ralph got a security job at the Showboat Casino. John says his Dad loved that job, because he got to eat prime rib with horseradish every single night. One day the kid’s school bus was shot at and the family moved again, in 1990. They went to Milpitas, California where Ralph got a job at Lockheed Martin. After 6 months he was laid off and he took a security job, which he hated. Then he was hired as a Federal police officer at the U.S. Mint in San Francisco, in 1991. Suzie remembers this time fondly, because as a teen she used to go down to the city with her girlfriend, and was allowed to roam the city freely, just as long as she checked in with her Dad periodically. He would also show them around the Mint. “It was such freedom and great fun”, she says.
Ralph completed training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training center on July 2, 1993. This was quite an achievement -- at that point he was 43 years old, the training was rigorous and he was competing with 20-something year olds. In 1994, the family moved to Texas, where Ralph got at job at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. During this time, Linda remembers she worked first shift and Ralph worked second shift. When she came home for lunch, he’d have dinner made, and he’d clean up after. She says she could clean the whole house in the amount of time that it took him to clean the kitchen, but that kitchen would be immaculate. John says his Dad was very detail oriented. “It wasn’t about the speed, it was about the quality of the job.”
Ralph was transferred to the U.S. Mint at West Point in NY, on November 3, 2002, and moved to here in New Jersey. In recent years, Ralph became deeply interested in his genealogy. He was fiercely proud of his Scottish heritage, says Ellen. He was also a proud member of the Sons of the American Revolution, and The Mayflower Society, being one of 26 male descendents from the Mayflower. Ralph and Linda traveled often, and their road trips usually included a stop at the National Archives, or stopping in to visit a distant relative he had discovered through his research.
In his leisure time Ralph could be found working on a building project, playing with his grandchildren, or curled up on his favorite green leather chair under his favorite afghan, watching John Wayne movies. He loved John Wayne, and had a whole collection of his movies on VHS – it was a running joke that he was probably the only person in town who still had VHS tapes and watched them.
On August 13th of this year, Ralph was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. He did not ask for a prognosis, preferring to let the remainder of his life come to its own natural end in its own time. Ralph faced his death with the same calm acceptance and courage with which he embraced life. His co-workers were a wonderful support during this time. When Ralph’s sick leave ran out, they donated their sick leave, so that he would continue to have income. Linda says that he never complained of pain, and she almost had to force him to take his pain medicine.
At 5 a.m. on November 4, 2007, Ralph Q____ passed away peacefully at his home, lovingly surrounded by his family.
Ralph’s daughter Ellen will now speak:
Personal Eulogy – Daughter Ellen
Hello. As I stand here, I see friends and relatives that have come great distances to be here for my Dad. I am humbled and quite frankly impressed at how he must have touched your lives. I can only speak for myself, but when I think of how he touched my life, the first word that comes to mind is “admiration”.
I could stand here and list all the ways I admire him…but well, a lot of you have flights to catch. But I would like to share a few reasons why I admire my Dad. First and foremost was his love and commitment for my Mother. And not just marital commitment. He was committed to making her HAPPY. If it was important to her, it BECAME important to him. They were happily married for 32 years, and during his last days, his only concern was for Mom’s well being, and not his own impending mortality.
I also admire him because of the KIND of father he was to us (my brother and me). Yes, he loved us… very much. But he also instilled in us a core value system that defined who HE was. And that, was a man who kept promises. Honored commitment. He was a man of integrity. Whenever we stumbled, he could have accepted our bitching & moaning and advised us to take the easy way out and quit. But he’d have none of THAT. He fully expected us to see things through, all the way to the end without drama. “Do it. It just needs to be done.” he’d always say to me.
If you’re here today, and I thank you for that, that means that he touched your life in some way or another. That means that you’d miss him in some way or another.
Yes, he will be missed
Friends will miss his coffee and corny jokes and his company
His grandchildren will miss his giddy-up rides and the comfy naps on his favorite recliner
My mother will miss having her best friend by her side
I will miss my father, the source of my convictions. I will miss my inspiration.