In Memory of a Great Man

A month ago today, my grandpa, Robert G. Runyan, died. As a way to remember him and allow people to understand what he meant to me, I decided to begin my blog with one of my more recent speeches, his eulogy. This blog will be a collection of my past speeches that reflect my current state of mind. We are the sum of our events and this is my attempt the past Bobby, with the Bobby I am today. 

Robert Runyan Funeral Program

Laughter was a source of life for my Papa. Whether the source or the cause of the laughter, he was constantly surrounded by the musical happiness of others. I believe many of us remember just how often and just how much this man has brought great joy to our hearts. With his butt-bitting club and his “Emerson” game, the warmth of his presence would fill the room.

I have no doubt that my grandfather, over his 82 years of life, won the respect of many intelligent people. Making friends with CEOs, CFOs, and HSNs (and to clarify that’s Chief Executive Officers, Chief Financial Officers, and Horse Shit Neighbors) he managed to relate to every single person he met. Meeting these people on a dance floor or in his travels around the United States selling lumber, he charmed his way through two jobs, so that he could provide more money than his darling wife Mary did as a Registered Nurse.  The support and love he had towards his family was driven by the affection of his children, my aunt and mother, Susie and Sandy.

Now I will be the first to admit that earning the appreciation of this honest critic of a man was not an easy suit. He was always the first to judge and first to criticize, revealed by the fact that any thought that entered his head was sure to exit his mouth. A gift that may at times have gotten him into a great deal of trouble, while also drawing in people to help in his defense. These were the people who helped him endure any betrayal of a false friend that may have come his way. These are the people who are gathered here today, and the people who have awaited him in heaven.

I stand here today, a true testament of my Papa. My ability to appreciate beauty and to find the best in others is rooted in the values that he instilled in me. While he may have left this world, he has done so leaving it a better place. I can honestly and openly say that it was by his hands that I am the man I am today. My papa has molded me since I was healthy child by taking me on long walks where he taught me how to properly shoot and aim a gun, relaxing fishing trips where I learned the appreciation of patience and tranquility, to messy kitchens where he taught me how to skillfully maneuver a knife, and even in his garden patch where I learned to grow tomatoes.  All of these moments were filled with redeeming memories from his past that he shared with me. Memories that reflected a man deeper than his laughter and heartfelt love. Memories that unveiled a man who’s heart could reach out to anyone, no matter their social condition, and connect to them on a personal an individual level.

While I know that even my one life has breathed easier because he has lived, we all know that he has help so many more. My Papa lived for my grandma, Mary. Night and day they shared a love that I can only dare wish for a tenth of.  Their bonded love strengthened him as my grandma weakened. Holding her even until her last breath, he made sure that every moment of her life could not have gone more smoothly.

On November 17, 1928, when my Papa enter this world no one could imagine the impact he would make. My life has be changed for the better because I knew him. All of our lives have been changed because we knew him. While the impact of his death has not fully hit me yet, and the influence of his life has not even begun to settle in, I can only pray that I reach any level of success that he did.

Before I close I simply want to introduce a quote by his beloved Ralph Waldo Emerson-mighty-fine-tittys. This quote has streamed its way though this speech.  When I first found this quote, I immediately loved it mainly on the grounds of who wrote it, but as I sat with it, it slowly began to mean more. I showed it to Papa, and told him that it reminded me of him, that it described the life I wanted to live, and the life that he lived, but I just thought that it left out some of the details. As we read it together, I told him that I would read it at his funeral and fill in all the details so that everyone could know and love him as much as I do. Being Papa, he cried when I told him, and I cried too, he told me that there was no need to do such a thing that he only wanted his funeral to be a fun celebration. I told him that I wanted him to be forever remembered and loved because that’s how he made me feel and I only wanted to return the favor.

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.


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