Eulogy by wife Jean Baxter read at funeral by Rebecca Pound
What can I say in 5 or 10 minutes that would begin to express what I feel. From the first time I laid eyes on you, during all of our 65 wonderful years together, through the birth of our two daughters, our adventures across the country and over the ocean, you were always a loving husband and the man that stole my heart and kept it forever.
You were always encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do. You supported me in those ideas and endeavors.
Although you never wanted to be away from me, you always encouraged me to go and visit my family, anytime I wanted. You never kept me back, but called me often to let me know you were thinking of me.
You always tried to please me, and that made me feel special.
Although in public you called me Jean, I was always your Jeanie when we were alone. A special name just between us. I will miss being called that name.
Things were not always perfect, as any other couple, we sometimes had issues we had to talk through. Young people sometimes think that marriage is perfect, but when they get to the hard times, they give up. We had those hard times, but we chose to work through them, and were better for it.
I would like to thank everyone who has supported us and prayed for us while Wendell was going through his illness. We appreciate our family and our church family holding us up in prayer. And we truly felt loved, cared for, and cherished by all.
Eulogy read at funeral by daughter Sherrie Baxter
On behalf of my mother Jean, Linda, Jack the grandchildren and myself, thank you for joining us today to celebrate the life of our beloved husband, father, grandfather. We sincerely appreciate your prayers and words of comfort and support. And we thank each of you for your part in Wendell’s life – for your contributions to the fabric of his life and for welcoming him to be a part of yours. Thank you.
This remembrance was difficult to write because there is so much I’d love to share about my Daddy and how he shaped my life. About the unconditional love I always felt from him. About the laughter and joy he brought to our home when I was growing up. And about the example he set. It’s hard to know what to exclude from decades of such cherished memories. So this will be the highlights of why he was so important to me. I know this won’t be the full picture of Wendell and how he impacted your lives, so I hope you’ll all help me fill in the gaps by sharing your memories and stories later in the service.
There is a lot to say about 85 years of a life well lived. You all have your window into his life, and I hope you’ll jump in and tell your stories. This is my view.
Daddy was my Daddy……Daddy was my friend. Daddy was my hero.
I feel blessed to have had Daddy as my father. I assume many kids feel this way about their fathers, but I still feel like I was the luckiest. When other kids were running to their friends’ homes after school to play with their classmates, I was headed home. That’s where I knew I’d find the most fun. My father made being at home a safe and secure place, a playful and fun place to be. Instead of going to other kids homes where fathers were often gruff or had harsh words, I brought friends home. They too gravitated to the atmosphere my father created.
But it wasn’t just having fun that made Daddy so important to me. It was the values he imparted to me – values like honesty, loyalty, love of family, self-reliance, determination, competition, generosity. He didn’t preach them, he modeled them. And he made them attractive, something you wanted to be.
He passed on to me his profound love of the outdoors. By taking me outdoors to explore nature he taught his passion. He found bird’s nests and held me up to see the eggs inside, told me the names of birds and flowers, he played with me in the snow, in leaves, in the water, in lakes and rivers. He was fascinated by the shape and pattern in leaves and would point out pictures in clouds. His passion and joy in creation was contagious. I recall him taking me to Wedgewood pool and teaching me to swim, playing fun games for hours until I was totally comfortable with water.
My father loved to compete and took great joy in doing his best. From winning first place in water polo and swim races in high school to beating a group of my friends at hopscotch when he was 78, winning was a challenge and a joy to him. He didn’t gloat and you couldn’t help but smile. I recall a friend and I marveling at his sure footedness going down a 4 mile steep trail. We literally could not keep up with him . . . and he was 70. He was grinning from ear to ear and practically giggled (chuckled) every time we even drew close.
My father was tender hearted. He had a sensitive nature. He cried easily. He never held a grudge. He apologized quickly and easily. He wanted fences mended. Discord tortured him.
I tried to count up the many friends and relatives that thought of my Daddy as their second father, of the father they wished they’d had. There are many — from my childhood, my teenage years and adult years. One friend who met him 15 years ago said she loved his smile and that he was someone she just wanted to be with, someone who generated warmth and safety. She said “Wholesomeness with a twinkle.”
My father and I were the most outdoorsy in our family. When I was a teenager we hiked 50 miles through the Olympic peninsula. I recall him waking me in the morning with a steaming bowl of oatmeal. And the entire group envied the crispy brown hash browns he made. His cooking skills made their white, pasty hash browns look pretty grim.
After my parents retired to Oklahoma, I enjoyed my father’s annual visits – staying with me a few months each late summer and fall while he worked with my business. Of course, those were perfect months to squeeze in many hikes and trips to the beach. We both delighted in long hikes in the shady, fern-filled canyons of the Columbia Gorge to view beautiful waterfalls. We both refueled our spirits during these adventures in God’s cathedral.
It would be impossible to talk about Daddy’s life – to celebrate his life- without mentioning Mother. They were partners in a very real sense. Mother was Daddy’s true love. Daddy loved my mother completely. He always defended her, always tried to please her. His devotion to her made a very safe home and was a wonderful model to me. My overriding memory was how much they enjoyed each other – playing together, laughing together, talking together…hugging and kissing often. Even in his last two months with me, her touch was the one that comforted most, her face was the one his eyes sought when he woke. They frequently sat talking together and he often would reach from his bed and hold her close.
My father was a noble man, a gentle man. A joyful, delightful soul. He loved people, loved visiting and being around them. He had a wonderful quick wit that made me and others laugh often. I was always amazed and delighted how he could so quickly think of something funny to say.
He was a family man. He put family first, he simply relished being with family. When he could not eat by mouth he said he missed fellowshipping around the table, so we all sat at the table.
Daddy loved his grandchildren. The last two months he spoke of them often, asked about them, worried about them.
Daddy was a Godly man. This too was modeled and lived, not preached. It’s said we form our idea of God the Father in part by the character of our earthly father. My father’s unconditional love, his ability to forgive made it easy for me to picture these characteristics in a heavenly God. This is what I will miss most – Daddy’s unconditional love for me.
My father was my friend. He was easy to be with. He was always curious about my life, always interested in what I had to say. I knew he always cared and was deeply concerned about my life, health and problems. He was extremely loyal, he always defended me, always had my back. I know this will be a huge loss – when I need that comfort and he’s not there.
My father was my hero. And by that, I mean someone respected, admired and a person to emulate – to be like. And I GREATLY respect and admire my father….for the way he handled the ups and downs in his life, for how he loved and contributed to Mother and his family, for his fortitude and commitment. I admire him for his character – for the honorable way he conducted himself in life.
For someone who was so physical, Parkinson’s was particularly cruel. It robbed him of his lifelong confidence in his body, most of his beautiful smile and finally his ability to eat. He tried hard to stay because he loved us. And I tried hard to make him live forever because I cannot imagine a life without his solid, precious, gracious presence and his never ending love for me. I cannot fathom not hearing him say “Come here Sugar.” I consider the last few months caring for my father an honor and a blessing
Daddy, thank you for loving me completely all my life. For putting your children and wife first. For being so sweet, so strong, so noble. So many things I want to say – we want to say – to our father, grandfather and husband. That we miss you – miss your laughter, miss your hugs, miss your solid presence, miss your sparkling spirit, miss your wonderful smile. And we know we’re going to have many moments where we’re going to feel your absence. But Daddy, most of all we want to say we love you, and that doesn’t change – now, or ever.
Daddy you were the best father, grandfather, uncle and friend to each of us.
Thank you for being our guide, and our foundation. And thank you for our memories. I love you. I always will.