Eulogy for Joe:
Author: Glenn Smyth
On behalf of my family, I need to begin by thanking all of you who gather here today to mourn and celebrate my brother's life. Your presence here is a more remarkable tribute to Joe than I can ever hope to offer today.
I will try poorly, I'm afraid to squeeze into a few minutes fifty years of an incredible human being
To many people Joe was many things. He was a husband, son, brother, nephew, uncle, and to countless others he was a friend. And to those lucky enough to be his friend, you know how lucky you were. Cherish the friendship you shared and please pass it on to others in your life.
Joe took being the older brother in stride, it was if the role was specifically designed for him. I think that made him the man that he was. He tolerated me being a little brat of a brother. He didn't beat me up when I broke his prized USS Enterprise Star Trek model, although he did pay me back by absolutely destroying my brand new Flexible Flyer sled. I knew something was wrong when he sat on the sled it groaned and the sled rungs bowed outward at an angle far beyond its design limit.
Maybe that's when he decided to become an engineer.
Joe enjoyed life in so many ways, scuba diving, golf, sailing, working on his many Jaguars, did any of you know he was an excellent water skier and snow skier or that in high school he was on the rifle team and was bitten by the acting bug? He had roles in the Mikado, the Crucible and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum. Joe was a licensed pilot, loved fine cigars, enjoyed playing poker, even brewed his own beer for a while. Joe and Sharie would often go back to New Orleans for the Jazz and Heritage festival where he would have his favorites, fried oyster po-boys and mounds of crawfish. I think New Orleans had a special place in his heart, Tulane University was his alma mater and that's where he met Sharie, the love of his life. You may not know it but I invited Sharie to the party where they met, and the rest as they say is history.
After his commissioning ceremony, as a brand new Second Lieutenant in the USAF on his way to get his master's degree in Electrical Engineering at Wright Patterson AFB, I can remember him talking to Dad off to the side and after a few minutes they gave each other a big ole hug and it was one of the few times I saw my father cry. We all cried out of joy and admiration for him serving our country.
When Joe gave away Beth at her wedding, I cannot describe the pride and the joy I felt when I and the rest of the wedding guests saw a beautiful bride walking down the isle being escorted by handsome young man in his dress uniform. What a sight to see.
I was his best man at his wedding and if I learned one thing it's that you never ever ever throw the bachelor party the night before the wedding, you will never live it down.
I was privileged and honored to have Joe as my best man at my wedding in Ireland. If Joe told any of you the story about a pub called the Dying Cow and how we woke up the owner in her house coat and how she told us that the men's room was outside and to be careful not to fall off the side of the hill, its all true. When Joe gave the toast, his public speaking voice was so good, so relaxed that all during the reception people came up to me and said that they could have listened to him speak all night, well that was pure Joe.
Each of us has a moment to cling to that was most characteristically Joe.
For me it was a Thanksgiving dinner in the early 80's at Sharie's parent's house in New Orleans. I was going to technical school at Kessler AFB in Biloxi MS, Joe and Sharie were stationed at Eglin AFB in Fort Walton FL. I will always remember the look in Dad's eyes when he saw both of his sons in uniform. Needless to say all of us had a great time and of course I was late getting back to the base and worried about getting in trouble but Joe being Joe said he would take care of it. In we go into the dormitory sergeant's office and he barks "you're late".
Joe using his best officers voice said "sergeant, he was with me, we don't have a problem do we? "No sir!" was all he said.
Joe was always there for me when I needed advice and guidance after Dad passed away. The best advice he gave me concerned my occupation, you see when I was in my late 20's I didn't have one. Joe and the rest of the family said basically get off your butt and do something. I wanted to be a pilot but Joe in his typical older brother way said he "Dude get serious, if you can't fly airplanes why not fix them? 20 years later that advice is still paying dividends because If I'm around airplanes the rest of my life I will be happy.
Joe was taken from us in the prime of his life, when he had so much going for him, a long and distinguished career as an officer in the United States Air Force, a second career as a Vice President at EADS North America, and as I look out among you all an incredible amount of family, friends and colleagues.
I will close with this poem, which I think Joe would want all of us gathered here to take to heart:
Weep not for me though I am gone,
into that gentle night.
Grieve if you will, but not for long,
upon my soul's sweet flight.
I am at peace,
my soul's at rest.
there is no need for tears,
for with your love I was blessed for all those many years.
There is no pain,
I suffer not,
the fear is all gone.
Put now these things out of your thoughts.
In your memory I live on.
remember not my fight for breath,
remember not the strife,
Please do not dwell upon my death,
but celebrate my life.
Goodbye Joe, I love you my precious brother.