This is the eulogy I gave for my dad, who died December 22nd. I practiced saying it out loud at least half a dozen times, but that didn't help me avoid crying anyway when I had to do it for real.
This has been started and rewritten a dozen different ways in the past week. I had a couple of starts that sounded great in my head but flopped once they hit paper, so in deference to simplicity I’m going to keep it short. I also cut out my lame attempts at jokes, which involved Ronald Reagan, dressing as a cheerleader for Halloween, and a sailor’s creative vocabulary.
I’ve thought for a long time that we should have funerals before the person in question dies; I think it would be very nice to see all of our loved ones together and hear a lot of nice things being said about us. Talking to so many of you today and sharing stories about my dad, I know that he would have deeply appreciated being here amongst you.
Chuck Harvey valued self-reliance, his family, rationality, craftsmanship, education no matter where one got it, and the dignity afforded everyone by the values of our country. He led by example, expecting others to fall in line and take up some slack just as he would in their shoes. He didn’t like to be out in front of people, and he could just barely tolerate formal situations, but I never saw him shirk responsibility or manners to avoid those things. He normally considered what he thought before he opened his mouth. He was caring, forgiving, and deeply passionate. Though he drilled into me the value of humility, he was one of my biggest cheerleaders; he always told me I could do something, even if he sometimes secretly thought that I probably couldn’t. He was a tolerable sailor and a not overly impressive surfer, but he was also a faithful and loving son, a steadfast husband, a loving dad, and an intelligent and decent man, and every one of us who knew him is better for it.
In memory of him, I hope each of us can remind ourselves to ride a motorcycle a little too fast, read some Steinbeck, take a lot of pictures, listen to music too loud—opera or The Doors, doesn’t matter—be decent even to people that we know won’t return the favor, stay curious, argue like hell for what we believe in but be smart enough to realize when we’re wrong, and set everything aside for family.