Friday, March 8, 2013

Opa's Eulogy

I didn't realize when I put together my photo tribute to my grandfather that I would be asked to give his eulogy. My aunts put one together for me, but I added some of the stories that I had collected about him and made it my own.

Below is the eulogy that I read on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at the funeral of Joseph Francis Eiswerth at St. Boniface Catholic Church.

(Photo taken in 1939. Deer head was mounted and hangs in my parents' home.)

Our family would like to thank all of you who came out today to honor Joe. We appreciate, too, all of your comforting words and many kindnesses toward us during this difficult time. Thank you. Joseph Francis Eiswerth was my grandfather and he was always Opa Joe to me.

Those who knew my Opa well, would know that he would be embarrassed by a lot of fanfare and praise. He was a simple man, a humble man, who is probably muttering right now, "Let's get this over with!"

We loved him and all his simple ways. He was a man whose faith in God and his church was strong. A man who was proud of his wife and family too.

Opa would never say no to anyone asking a favor of him, no matter how busy he was. Our family has heard many of your stories of favors he's done for you, never asking anything in return.

Opa was a man who was not afraid to apologize if he thought he had hurt your feelings. A man who was a good listener, offering advice or an opinion, only if asked. Most of all, he was a man who was full of gratitude. He often sent thank you notes for gifts and favors, and he always could be heard saying, "Thanks for all you do. I really appreciate it."

Opa Joe loved baseball. He was introduced to the game through his Aunt Agnes. She worked for a wealthy doctor, who had connections with the Williamsport Grays ball team. Ballplayers were invited over to the farm for a good home cooked meal and to taste some of my great- grandfather's home-made wines. There always seemed time for a game and that was how Opa learned a lot about baseball. He taught his children to throw balls in the backyard and occasionally he would round up the kids and go over to Curtin's softball field. They would spread out on the field and Opa would hit grounders and flies. It was his favorite sport, and he often caught a good nap watching the baseball games on TV.

He loved telling stories of his Navy days and his many hunting adventures.

He had some great stories of job-site experiences too. The young fellows he worked with entertained him on many of his jobs. His former workers loved and respected him and some are here today to serve as his pallbearers. Opa always insisted that the work be done the right way the first time and their work was recognized for its quality.

Opa never thought he would live to be 91 years old. Both of his parents died in their 60s. But his time wasn't up and he was able to spend many years of his retirement staying active with golfing, volunteering, spending time with his family and still doing odd jobs and consulting work.

Opa was always a strong man. He was never afraid of hard work and challenges. He was a man who worked full time yet still managed to build his own house in the evenings.

His last years, however, brought some senior challenges. Being a senior wasn't easy for him. When Opa was faced with failing eyesight and hearing, with slower steps and speech, he went forward to love each day full of gratitude for all those who cared for him. That was how Opa showed his true strength.

We were lucky to have him in our lives for so long. The longer he was with us, however, the harder it was to let him go. But we know now he's telling all those stories to his ancestors.

He left his legacy on all those who had the privilege to be his family, his crew, and his friends. He shaped all those around him though his own example. He showed others how to care, respect, and help people and do the right thing for the right reason.

We'll miss you, Opa Joe! Keep smiling down on us, and we'll meet again someday in that great baseball diamond in the sky.


  1. Again, thank you for sharing. Sweet, short, to the point. It gives readers and listeners a chance to reflect on him and the contribution he made to their lives.