George Leon James
He was my father.
He was your father-in-law, but loved you more as a daughter than as a daughter-in-law. He taught you how to make a pineapple upside down cake and a pot roast; you taught him how to appreciate the wonders of North Carolina, California, Arizona, kittens, and the love of a daughter in law.
He was your brother. To have a brother for 84 years, what wonderful memories you must have. I have memories of 59 years and you have 84 years of memories of my Dad. How wonderful!
He was your brother-in-law. But loved and respected as a family member.
He was your uncle Leon. I find it pleasing that we still respect our relatives by calling them by Uncle, Aunt, or Cousin. I still call my relatives by their respective titles (Uncle Paul, Aunt Tymn, Aunt Janice, Aunt Wanda, Aunt Betty, Aunt Marion, Cousin Ronnie, Cousin Mickey, Cousin Margina, Cousin Bonnie, Cousin Linda, Cousin Jim, just to name a few) although my wife kids me that I say “cousnit” Ronnie rather than Cousin Ronnie. My wife, after she was introduced to most of the family members on our first trip back to Michigan after being married commented: Well, this will be pretty simple, everyone’s first name is either Aunt, Uncle, or Cousin. But what I can’t understand is why half of them are know by their middle names (George Leon, William Cecil, Joyce Wanda, Betty Janice, Mary Juanita).
He was your co-worker. Since I also worked for the Chessie System for over 10 years and know most of his co workers I know you have many stories of my Dad that you cherish.
He was your neighbor. Thank God for good neighbors! You truly are a God Send!
He was your friend and companion.
He was your golfing partner or racetrack friend.
We grieve for our loss and for our inability to spare each other a pain so deep and so wide that words fail to express its true size.
As many of you know, he was an active celebrant of life (my Dad would like that choice of words from his son), but what I mean is he truly enjoyed his life. A man prone to regaling his audiences with stories too numerous to recount (ak a BS er), a man who is curious about all that is around him, and a man who is a true believer in the value of friendships. Your presence here honors him deeply, and I thank you on his behalf.
My job today is to relate a little bit about my father’s life to you. Perhaps to reveal a little bit of him that you may not have known or share an anecdote or two which will refresh our memories of him. This will be difficult mainly because not only am I losing a father but my best friend, my role model, and my hero.
You are a special person to a great many people. You probably did not even realize the kind of affect you have had on so many people’s lives. You have been a dear husband, father, father-in-law, uncle, brother-in-law, friend, employer, business associate, neighbor, to name a few. We know of countless friends and admirers from each of these connections that formed the web of your life whom have shared the profound impact you have had on them. You have been a bright beacon that stands for virtuous living, standing strong for what is really important in life… family, integrity and the recognition that it is God’s will to do good with the talents He has given us.
Dad, many of us gathered here in your memory could provide testimony regarding how special you were in their lives. They each could describe how your unique blend of honesty, responsibility, and your genuine interest, compassion, fairness, and down-to-earth sense of humor made a difference in their lives. All of us will feel your loss in countless ways.
All of us gathered here today are coping with a very complicated set of feelings that marry the joy and pride of having known you with the pain that comes with the reality that you are gone for a short while. For those of us here this morning that are strong in faith, we have no doubt that this loss is only temporary. We know where you are right now. You are in God’s Heavenly Kingdom celebrating your wonderful life along with our ancestors who have watched you over the years with great pride and happiness. You are in a place where peace, love and joy far surpass the best our world has to offer, and you deserve every last bit of it!
Dad, even though there are so many of your fans here this morning, this tribute is about how special you are to us, your children, family and friends. By sharing a few details about how you helped to shape us, we will likely strike chords with all present today on how you helped influence them as well.
Dad, you are the best father we ever could have asked for. We thank God for giving you to us. Yet now, we all suffer an inexpressible feeling of loss and sadness. Our hope is that now that you are in a place where you can see and hear us clearly… where you possess all the wisdom of the ages, and you now