My uncle Gary passed away on September 2 after a 10 month battle with pancreatic cancer. Gary was an extremely important person in my life and was much more than an uncle. I was asked to say a eulogy at his funeral and I wanted to post this along with some photos as a lasting tribute to Gary.
Over the past week, I have been thinking a lot about “Who was Gary”. He was so many things to so many of us. He was a Son, Brother, Uncle, Friend, Travel Partner, Chef, Teacher, Role Model, Care Giver, Philanthropist, and much, much more.
To me, Gary was many of these things – Uncle, Best Friend, Travel Partner, Teacher, and Role Model.
Uncle Gary was the name so many people called him. He only had 4 nephews and 1 niece and yet so many people called him Uncle Gary. I think that says so much about who he was. He was an Uncle to so many, many people and everyone wanted to call him Uncle Gary as it was synonymous with the fun, compassion, and generosity with which he led his life.
To me, Uncle Gary was a Best Friend. Gary treated his friends like family and he treated them all so very well. Gary was one of the people who taught me the importance of treating friends like family and the importance of that extended family. Living so far away from our family, this is something that Emily and I now live by.
Gary loved to travel and was an amazing Travel Partner. He helped instill in me the importance of traveling which is something I have tried to live by. My first trip to Europe was with Gary and I still have fond memories of that trip. Most of us have heard stories and seen pictures of Gary’s amazing travel adventures with Barb, Craig, Hansi, Angela, and many more of you. All around the US, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, Norway, Italy, Greece, Hong Kong, China, and many more. He loved to experience new places and cultures. He cherished all of the places he went and made life long memories in those places. Much of the art in Gary’s homes shows his love of traveling and the cultures he experienced. Traveling with Gary was always a mix of art, history, food, and of course lots of fun.
Gary was a Role Model to me. He was one of the classiest and most dignified people most of us knew. Many of us learned so much from him about style, art, cooking, entertaining, and more. I always loved going to Niemen Marcus with him and seeing him greeted by name by the staff as they would show him the latest arrivals that they felt he would like.
Gary treated everyone so well that they couldn’t be anything but nice to him. He was an extremely generous person to family, friends, and the organizations that were important to him. His impact on people became so apparent after his passing, when several of the people who had helped take care of the Scottsdale house for many, many years came by the house. Their extreme sadness and tears showed just how much he impacted everyone he came across. I only hope that someday I can be this type of role model.
Gary was also such a great Teacher. For me, his greatest teachings were in the kitchen. He was one of the critical figures in teaching me how to enjoy great food, be a good cook, and throw an amazing party. In looking through photos over the past few weeks, so many of my photos were of Gary in the kitchen with his favorite apron on (put on apron). I was surprised in how many of these photos he was wearing a polo shirt, boxer shorts, and an apron. I am not sure this was the style that the sales people at Niemen Marcus were going for, but somehow, he made it work.
We all know how much Gary liked to throw a party and we could spend hours telling stories of his parties we have all attended. These parties were great times and great memories of Gary. I hope we can all continue his tradition of great parties and memories.
So as we are all sharing stories and memories of Gary, take time to think about who Gary was to you. For me, every time I put on an apron to cook a meal for family and friends I will be thinking of Gary. For those of you who were around for Gary’s last week, he was ready to go and would look you in the face and intently say “Emily, Let’s Go”, “Craig, Let’s Go”, “Kari, Let’s Go”. At the time, we weren’t sure where Gary wanted to go, but now we all know the final party that Gary was ready to go to, so “Let’s Go”.
The other Eulogies were by my sister and 2 cousins. I wanted to include a part of my cousin Russ’s Eulogy where he ended with ‘Gary’s recipe for life’ as I felt this was just wonderful.
A few photos of Gary over they years:
Gary, Chad, and Grandma