Sam's Eulogies

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December 12, 1979 Samuel Lincoln Gordon

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  • Samuel Lincoln Gordon

    December 12, 1979

  • Ladies and gentlemen,Friends;I have come to celebrate our friend, SamuelLincoln Gordon:Samuel for the ProPhet,Lincoln for justice,Gordon from the man who brought his nametothis country and gave us allthe familywe solove and cherish, and to whom all our hearts,as with one mind, go out to soothe andcomfort. Celebrating Sam is in one way easyand in another difficult. lt is difficult becausehe was, himself, matchless at celebrating'Though we now sit hushed in grief, there isnot one of us who cannot remember anowho will not long cherish the remembranceof one of Sam's loving celebrations' For eachof us, there is some special experience sharedwith him which long after, perhaps, we our-selves had forgotten it, took on a wonderf ulnew life on the lips of this great celebrator' ltis not only that we always felt that in Sam's

  • company we were making history. we did, ofcour;e, find that in our moments with him,xtraordinary things happened. But moreimoortant is the fact that we really weremaking history. We were furnishing Sam withother tlhemes for his celebrated celebrations'I keenly feel how lack-lustre must be thiscelebraiion of mine when I consider thewealth of wit and warmth he invariablybrought to his. In only this way is it easy .toceleb-rate him. For I have something that.heseldom had: A great story to celebrate' Heiould light up even the smallest event andhand it io us as a torch, emblematic of ourfriendship. Though I could never match himin this, my shorl-comings in handling aremore than overcome by the brightness of hisf lame.

    Mv theme is Samuel Gordon's Youth; Icannot say his lif e. His unique ability to makehistory th;ough his celebrations was but theseed of that lreater history that would have

    been his life. I can see Samuel, full o{ years;;; *hlt; of h"it lik" his namesake theo*rJoh"t,looting back over his long life' And Ii"""il"'rti. gathering up those years thatJestinv has confined us to, as but the seasont*o,itr"t una search. At times, I believe l.cant"""'J.t" Jtt e succeeding chapters. of hishistorv. For certain, it is a wise man's hlstory

    -i"i itrtJ.. was his only goal' Let not hishumor or his manner deceive you on tnlsJJi"t]irt.t"'*t'. do not see his lif e as a searchi"r tft" *itaot of Solomon either do not wellr!t"tn".fti., or have not recently read hisirruiiriout kinsmen' To be sure, he was nocloistered Academician; his laboratory wasirlu-*otfa, and to leave any pa.rt ol.jt un:.t"f

    "*O was to abuse philosophy' Life not

    ii"!a io irt" trrr"st was, for him, something farless than life.

    Yet, lest I stare into the face of even one*to-*iii not take this torch from me' thisiigtti,

    "t .r""t as day before my eyes' of what

  • he was to be, let me celebrate then not hisuoritt, f rt *tt"t death has made his life' Forin"itt" it dead, our choked voices and tear-stained faces bear more eloquent.witne.ssthan our insensible words' So be it then: Hlsiit". ft

    "t,,oo, *us a stirringtheme' Those that

    ;;;;k;i;;" know not what he achieved'ihose that question his wisdom never put a

    "r"rA."-a. hi.. Thot" that do not recall his

    iulii* n"u"t tought his judgment' Thosethatbitu hirn remember not his hard-forged ctrcte5ii;;;iiii"nat. rhose that talk of traged'vi","i'i 6u, little of the jov he brought us all'-l;";

    as I search out the courageous faces

    "t ti" pur"ntt he loved, I remember that his

    ;i#;;i';tilate had told me that sam hadf,e;-;; ;;; irrePlaceable friend' we all;;;;;" insight into what he means andJ"t rt" i""rt, tirough none of us can touch;'; c;;.Ji'ief. B-ut if sam is irreplaceable'iie it eqrattv l,nforgettable' The lineaments

    of his spirit are indelibly etched in my m!19'i"i'*t'"rgft f,it inimitable imitations and hisl"[riui"8 ."r"brations, each one of us takesir.r rtli""

    "

    trr";a for life' For the love of cod'I pray you, also celebrate his love'

    --William Altman

  • Sam's passing has shocked us all. At the veryleast, ii is a gr-im reminder of our own mortal-itv, of the fiailty of the flesh and blood thatcarries us through the world. In a much largersense, it is the overwhelming. and ineplace-able loss of a son, a brother, a dear f riend' Samwas mv best friend. In his death I find muchcoursg for grief and despair. Why, I keepaskinq, should so important a person Dei"niet tne remainder of the life he hadbesun in such a spectacular fashion? WhyshJuld Sam have been cut short of com-pleting his life's work? lf the great artists livebn ln ltre works they pass on to succeedingeenerations, then Sam's work must surely beiiving with all of us. But what was Sam's work?It wis not weighty paper volumns left toeather dust and iobwebs on a library shelf' ltivas something bigger and more exciting' ltwas words, buiit was more than words' lt wasa language. But it was even more than that' To.e.',It wis an entirely new and different way

  • of lookins at the world-'?Ite Worlil Acmrdingfo So "iVou might say. Sam's world was onethat *"s-tittea with all manner of interestingitrinesr stuna birds, plootnee beans, schmoeii""!. .o nut" only i few. lt was a world filled*ittr ttt" voices of presidents, Rastafariansand sodfathers, all complete with gestures

    "nJ i.."ntt. Sam invented this world partly

    io i.rt" himself, but mainly to amuse thosehe loved. We can only dream of what heri*ttt ttu"" done with tllis world in the "real"*o;iJ of entertainment that was just coming*itttin ttit grasp in New York' But then again'i;;;l;tt;t p"rrpbte, at best, to inspire others?iir'i *oira certainly inspired all those luckyunouett to meet and know him' All of us haveul"n'intpit"A by his unique and original

    "n"rsv. W" can never forget his words' ttls

    voicJi, his sense of f un and of the absurd' we'his friends and family who loved him' cannot

    ""J ttiii ""t forget this warm and impish

    figrt" ""a

    his infiuence on us' Twenty-three

    vears mav be only part of a lifetime' but fori;; ii ;;;tough time to create a world'n"J *itil" Sam hai left our world' he has left;il ;;;h oi us a Part of his world' we willnever forget him.

    --Carrett Jewett

  • ))

    l'm really at a loss for words' This is theseiond brother that l've lost, lost at a time inhis tife when you aren't supposed to lose;you're only supposed to gain' l'm very un-happy.' '-K

    tt"pp"nt at times like these, a team ofp"opte rj.jtts together in order to help eachbtttit ttttorgtt, I guess to be modern weihould call iia "task force"' You can tell a lot

    "Uouiftoww"ttwe're goingto go on from the

    oualitv of our people here' Sam was a sweeteuv, a good brother. The people we have here"mrilrning him are the best. Hard as it is, we'regoins to Pull through.- t don;t believe in Cod, rnyself' I don't

    , believe that justice comes f rom outside like acatered meal. I do believe that we create ourown conditions for living, for care, for sym-oathv. That's what we're going to have to do'foe're traveling by night through a vastwooded space. Wild beasts snatch membersof ow p"hy, without logic, without justice'

  • without reprieve. There's only one kind ofpower in the darkness: We build up our fire,we keep tabs on each other, we hold our-selves together and get on with our journey.So lef s stick together, and we'll make it.

    --Daniel Cordon

  • l've lost my best friend. I can't just buryhim withouttryingto make some sense outofhis brief but teeming tife. All I could sayatfirstwhen I heard that Sam was dead was, "God, itfeels as if l've lost a brother." But he was somuch more than that. We were as close ast\,vo people could be. Our thoughts 'richo-cheted off of each other in a tacit shorthand.Our voices and intonations were so alike thatfor fun we'd fool people on the telephone bytrading ottthe receiverwhen we weretired oftalking to a friend. We had a mutual admira-tion society; we shared each othe/s successeswith joy, and we were supportive as hellwhen one of us failed.

    Sam's life was joy. His seeming surenessand aloofness was a cover for the deepsensitivity he had for people in need' Hiscompulsive need to make people laugh wasnot merely a vain conceit- it was his ownspecial way of probing for the truth, his ownway of dealing with the vagaries of life. His

  • love for people was expressed by conceivinga world the way he wanted it to be, and thendrawing everybody along into it for the f un ofthe ride. He hadawonderful nonsenseworld,full of a nonsense language which railedagainst the pomposity and pretentiousnessof everyday life. This language is an indeliblepart of our lives. There was a simple, direct,often naive quality to his world: He told me,when he was a teenager, that he often wishedthat people would approach each other witha "thumb-up" or "thumb-down"- to showwhether or not they wanted to get to knoweach other. His dreams swept people alongwith a contagious joy. He had the mostcurious mix of spiritualism and materialismthat I have ever seen. And vet, with Sam, itwas all so believable- he had the charismaand the talent to make the irrational rational,the incongruous reasonable.

    Sam could certainly win people with hishumor, but he was also a serious man. His

    deep conviction that there is more to life thanwhai he called

    -

    in his mock Far Eastern

    ".iJnt - the "material plane"

    -

    was some'

    itrins f,e made me believe. He celebrated life

    "r "'t"r." that cannot die' "Why not b-e-lieve

    tiii", n" would say, "in the absence of betterevidence?"-

    -lu Coa, I will miss Sam on l&rs plane of

    .*ittLnie-out daily lives-more deeplyirr"n I ."n say. To bury such a lover of life isi't

    "

    tt"J"tt tt ing I have ever done' But I feeliu.tt i*"ttn,*aim glowfrom him' He bright-ened my life as no one el