Many people have expressed interest in the eulogy that I gave at my father’s funeral on Saturday, November 8, 2008. Although the honor and privilege of speaking was mine, all six of my brothers and sisters participated in the writing. The document is available for download as a Word document by clicking HERE.
Harry W. Lamberty
August 4, 1927 – November 6, 2008
By the Lamberty Children
Our father gave each of us something to remember. Let me give you an example:
‘i’ squared equals minus one.
The man was an engineer.
So, ‘i’ squared equals minus one. And a pint’s a pound the world around.
When I say he gave us something to remember, I mean specifically, to each of us, his children, something he wanted us to learn and remember for the rest of our lives.
He gave Bill: ‘i’ squared equals minus one.
He gave Kane: A pint’s a pound the world around.
He gave me: The upper lip of a giraffe is prehensile.
The upper lip of a giraffe is prehensile. It may not seem earth shattering; the kind of thing you remember for the rest of your life. But that’s not what was important.
What IS important is that everything our father did in his life was thoughtful, considerate and deliberate.
Thoughtful in that he thought about what he said, and what he did, before saying it or doing it.
Considerate in that he gave careful consideration to the impact his words and actions would have on the people around him.
Deliberate in that he ALWAYS made his decisions based on what he believed was right.
Those whose lives were touched by our father may not always remember the things he said, like we do. He didn’t often speak forcefully. But they will remember the things he did. The thoughtful, considered and deliberate choices he made that impacted the world in which he lived.
Shortly after the end of the Vietnam conflict, when he was the head of the parish council, they were discussing whether or not the parish should sponsor a Vietnamese refugee family. He offered the opinion that the question was not WHETHER they should sponsor a family, but rather… how many.
Our father constantly surprised us. No one would expect this practical and pragmatic man to have an artistic streak that would manifest throughout his life.
If you have ever been to our parent’s home, you have seen his collection of Southwestern art. But his artistic streak was not limited to collecting.
As a young married couple, with seven children still at home, he made the conscious and deliberate decision to create what we would now-a-days call “quality time” with his wife, and together they took up square dancing.
I am a professional ballroom dancer and world champion, but I would never have started dancing if it wasn’t for them dancing, AND sharing their passion for dancing with us.
He used to drive me all the way across town just so I could dance with the teen square dance group. He never spoke to me while we were in the car alone. I always thought it was because he was ashamed that I was dancing instead of doing something like playing ball. Little did I know that he didn’t talk because he had a hearing problem and the background noise of the car made it impossible for him to hear me while he was driving.
When I got the extraordinary privilege of working at White Sands on the same project as my father, I was stunned to see a framed copy of the poster from my first public ballroom dancing exhibition on the wall of his office.
And that was not the only memento of his family. Each of us was represented. As much as he loved his work, and he truly did, FAMILY was always more important. His office represented his love for his family through the art he put in it.
As that family grew to include spouses, his love grew too. Each of his children’s wives and husbands were welcomed into his life.
Whether it was sitting and discussing World War Two airplanes with Mary’s husband, Tom, or talking sports with Amy’s husband, Richard, or sharing a cup of coffee with Ted’s wife Susie, our father made each of them his own.
It was typical that when Kane’s wife, Barbara, who collects South Pacific art and artifacts, brought him a model outrigger canoe in pieces, he not only put it back together, but spend hours and hours repairing, cleaning and restoring it, including fabricating missing pieces with such precision and in such detail that only an expert could tell that they were not a part of the original work of art.
And he didn’t do this just once, but time and time again. In fact, he completed the last one less than two weeks before his death.
Perhaps the most surprising, the most unique expression of his creative and artistic sense are his now legendary bowling pins.
What started as a quirky way to hold a door open became a wonderful gift for the members of our family. And before long, it became an honor for others to receive one of Harry’s creations: A treasured, thoughtful gift, created as an individual expression of his profound respect, love and admiration of the recipient.
As remarkable as his art was, perhaps the greatest gift Harry has ever given is a lifetime of devotion to his wife, Jackie.
They met because they were set up. Harry’s mother had a car, which in the late 40s, made Harry special. The group of friends wanted to find someone to go with Harry on their group date. But who could they get for this shy, awkward young man? How about a vivacious lovely young woman with a quick wit and a beautiful smile?
So six of them piled into Harry’s mother’s car to go dancing. Although he would later become quite an accomplished dancer, Harry was, at that point, a clumsy Cal, and not exactly blessed with the gift of gab. No worries, since Jackie was good at both.
When Jackie got home after their first date, her mother was waiting up for her. “What was he like”, she asked? “He’s homely”, she replied.
And when Harry got home, his sister asked, “What was she like?” “She’s fat”, he said.
Over time, this homely man and this fat woman created a remarkable love that was just as strong on the day he died as it was on the day they got married, 57 years, 2 months, and 7 days before.
‘i’ squared equals minus one.
A pint’s a pound the world around.
The upper lip of a giraffe is prehensile.
Our father gave us, his children, WORDS to remember. He gave us ALL, a LIFE to remember.