This week, we’ve been asking: “How Will I Be Remembered?”
Now, we’re proud to introduce you to the work of Cyrus Copeland, the nation’s leading expert on eulogies — the messages that friends, family and clergy write to send off the departed with a final, personal message for the community of mourners left behind.
Tomorrow, you’ll meet Cyrus in our weekly Conversation, which will include Cyrus’ words of wisdom for writing the most memorable eulogies possible. You’ll be intrigued by that — and may want to clip and save it for future reference, so don’t miss that next story.
Also — to our readers who’ve sent us notes about Memorial Day (and your thoughts on recent films) — please keep them coming! We deeply appreciate your “Comments” (click below to add a fresh one today) and your Emails to us.
We are planning a wrap-up of your comments later this week. So, keep watching for that.
What makes Cyrus’ books on eulogy so powerful is that they seem to summon up a “communion of saints.” I find his books deeply inspiring and I’ve read them, now, several times over the years.
NOTE: Please, click on his book covers and you’ll jump to our reviews — and you can buy copies of his book there directly from Amazon, if you wish.
ALSO, if you want to share today’s quiz with a friend — check out our new “Share This” feature near the top of this page (in the center), which makes it easy to share our stories with friends.
TODAY’S QUIZ is a Mix ‘n’ Match challenge. Match these 10 tiny excerpts from famous eulogies — with the people they’re describing. Beyond the quote itself, we’re giving you the year of death and the name of the person who wrote and delivered the eulogy.
HERE ARE THE 10 EXCERPTS:
course, he wasn’t in it at the time, but I couldn’t help but feeling
that I was soaking up some of his aura. I believe that when we sleep,
our soul leaves our body to be rejuvenated.”
2.) In 1974, Bob Hope said of him: “For a man who was the undisputed
master of comedy timing, you’d have to say that this was the only time
_____’s timing was all wrong. He left us much too soon. He was stingy
to the end. He gave us only 80 years and it wasn’t enough.”
3.) In 2000, Cathy Guisewite said of him: “The most inspirational
moment of my life was the day I was spiraling into my weekly creative
coma and _____ called me on the phone. The fact that he called me, of
course, was inspiring enough, let alone that he would consider me part
of the same profession he was in.”
4.) In 1990, Gregory Hines said of him: “I knew good tap dancing. And I
knew the really great tap dancers. And he was a really great tap
dancer, too. He could do all those things — and he could tap dance
also. I could only tap.”
5.) In 1974, Stanley Dance said of him: “He firmly believed what the
mother he worshiped also believed, that he had been blessed at birth.
He reached out to people with his music and drew them to himself.”
In 2002, Eric Idle said of him: “In the hospital, he asked the nurses
to put fish and chips in his IV. The doctor, thinking he was
delusional, said to his son, “Don’t worry, we have a medical name for
“Yes,” said Dahni, “humor.”
I’m particularly sorry Dahni isn’t here tonight, because I wanted to introduce him by saying, “Here comes the son.”
7.) In 1985, Charlton Heston said of him: “Talent is a slippery word in itself — it’s that smoky something hidden somewhere inside us allowing us to make up plays and paintings and bridges and airplanes and murals — and movies. _____ had more of that than anyone I’ve ever known.”
8.) In 1971, Charles Kuralt said of him: “We remember him, finally, for his deep and abiding belief that we could take it; that there was never any excuse for insulating the people from reality; that escapism was the eighth and deadliest sin; that the American people were wise beyond the comprehension of those who would trick us or delude us and tell us lies.”
9.) In 2003, Teresa Heinz Kerry said of him: “_____ was able to look past the differences that so often are all we see in each other in this life. He focused instead on what all of us — children and adult, black and white, Christian and Jew, Muslim and nonbeliever — have in common: the need to feel special, to be accepted for who and what we are.”
10.) In 1966, the Rev. Howard Moody said of him: “It would be more honest and faithful if we remembered him for those traits and characteristics that ministers and rabbis usually omit from their memorial services: … his destructiveness, his unbearable moralism and his unstinting pigheadedness.”
Edward R. Murrow
IF you’re taking this quiz on our Web site, please CLICK on the link, below, to see the Answers pop up. If you’re reading this via email, you won’t have this little feature — so don’t peek!
HERE ARE THE ANSWERS:
Want to read the entire text of these eulogies? Then, buy Cyrus’ books. Click on the covers to jump to our reviews and our Amazon-related bookstore.
ALSO, you may be asking yourself: So, does Cyrus only collect eulogies of men? No, he includes many women in his books. We chose 10 men for our quiz, so that the answers couldn’t be easily sorted by gender.
1.) Madonna was talking about designer Gianni Versace. Among the thousands in the crowd listening to Madonna’s reflection were Elton John, Sting and Princess Dianna.
2.) Hope was eulogizing Jack Benny, who was working on a third network-TV “farewell” special when he finally passed away.
3.) Guisewite was recalling Charles Schulz, who died hours before his final “Peanuts” strip was published.
4.) Hines was talking about the groundbreaking performer Sammy Davis Jr.
5.) Dance was talking about Duke Ellington whose 2,000 songs included nearly the entire range of popular musical forms, including hymns.
6.) Monty Python co-founder Idle was talking about his friend George
Harrison, who personally funded the Python film, “Life of Brian,”
because Harrison simply wanted to see the movie. Idle said, “Still the most anybody has
ever paid for a cinema ticket.”
7.) Heston was talking about Orson Welles, who actually made very few films — considering his huge talent. Heston co-starred with Welles in “A Touch of Evil” and credited Welles with teaching him a whole lot about moviemaking.
8.) Kuralt’s career overlapped with Edward R. Murrow’s enough that Kuralt had immense respect for this pioneer of modern broadcast journalism.
9.) Teresa Heinz Kerry’s friendship with Fred Rogers went back several decades to her earlier marriage to Sen. H. John Heinz III, who died in a mid-air collision. Teresa Heinz and Fred Rogers met at a political event. Their continued throughout their lives until Rogers’ death from cancer in 2003.
10.) Moody was Bruce’s friend and a version of this eulogy appeared in Esquire.
REMEMBER: Add a “Comment” below — or Email us with your thoughts. Remember, we’re still collecting your thoughts on recent films — as well as on Memorial Day — or, really, on any of the themes we cover here at ReadTheSpirit.