Family Tribute:September 22, 2001
We meet here today to remember Ron Comer - and to do so with love and affection. You and I grieve for a husband and father and friend. We mourn also for the thousands of others whose lives were cut short in this tragedy born of unspeakable evil.
But Ron and those who died with him have a kind of immortality. They will live on in the lives of those they leave behind. Memories cannot be taken from us. They remain forever, and are there to console us always.
We pray also that these memories will someday return smiles and laughter to the faces of those in need.
Lauren, Kate and I, our families, our friends and neighbors know very well the family side of Ron. But Ron had another life - his work - that he truly loved.
All of you who were his colleagues saw every day that part of Ron.
We distributed to all of you here today self-addressed envelopes and notepaper. Perhaps during the quiet time of this service, you can recount for us some memory, some story of Ron, something special or something unique you saw in him. If you cannot complete this today, we ask you to take an envelope with you as you leave and share whatever thoughts come to mind over the next few days. We shall cherish these remembrances always, and they will comfort us.
In return, I want to relate to you some aspects of the side of the Ron I knew, and saw, and loved every day for 33 years.
He was the kindest, sweetest, most caring, gentle man ever. He was all give, and I was all take. Never once in all our years together did we argue, thanks to a philosophy he adopted soon after our wedding. As was typical of Ron, this code of behavior was simple and direct. He would say to anyone who asked, 'Cindy and I always discuss things; we compromise, and then we do it her way.'
He was a man behind a desk, but he was a landscaper at heart. On weekends, the lawn would be mowed as early as neighbors would allow - earlier if he could get away with it. The rest of the day would be spent trimming, clipping, pruning, and raking. He loved that yard and felt master of it as he sat atop his deck alone, or with me or with Lauren and Kate or friends and neighbors.
His thrill in life was scuba diving, an activity some people thought at odds with him. But its quiet serenity and solitude was a perfect fit for his personality.
Here, the helter-skelter world of the Long Island Railroad and New York City and the world’s business disappeared however briefly. And Ron, the quiet, reflective, most decent guy I ever knew was where he wanted to be.
Nevertheless, he was not without his shortcomings, and he was particularly lacking in technical skills. To his everlasting credit, Ron knew this. Of course, the evidence was overwhelming.
He freely admitted that when the directions for installing any gadget demanded no talents or special intelligence whatsoever, it was a clear warning to him to hire a professional. And that we did on more than a few occasions. It was a lot easier than filling out the insurance claims.
Oddly enough, Ron’s brother Jim is exceedingly handy, and Ron acted as a willing 'go-fer' for Jim on any number of projects. One time, I remember Jim standing on a ladder and asking Ron to measure a piece of lumber. Ron extended the tape, proudly announcing the length to be '10 inches and two little lines.'
But our all-time favorite story that ideally captures the essence of Ron when it came to his ongoing war with technology occurred when he first got his cell phone and tried to program it.
Walking into dinner one evening, Ron tossed his brand new, state-of-the-art cell phone on the table, declaring with absolute certainty that it was broken beyond repair.
The phone clearly indicated 48 voice-mail messages awaiting his response. But try as he did, Ron could access none of them.
Well, as so often happened with Ron when confronted with the technical side of life, the little things proved to be his undoing.
Once shown that he had to press 'pound' as the final step in the process, Ron quickly began the task of responding to what surely had to be the important and impassioned inquiries from his clients.
Surprisingly - at least to Ron - not one message related to Marsh & McLennan. Instead, Ron’s 48 voice-mails comprised the entire station by station itinerary of the LIRR’s 6:35am Northport to Penn Station run. 'Next stop - Syosset. Syosset next.' 'Tickets. Tickets, please.' ’Watch the closing doors.' 'All passengers change at Jamaica.'
Ron may have had some difficulties in accessing his own mail, but he had become a whiz at recording the words of others.
Isn’t it strange that at times like these, it’s the little and long-forgotten events that become so near and clear.
And perhaps that is the thought that should be with all of us here today. Life is not all lightning and thunder. Most of the time it is the routine of flickering candles, soft whispers, barely perceptible sounds. And if we think about it, these are usually the most valuable and the most worth remembering.
Thank you for being here today. Thank you for all you have done for us. Thank you for being a part of our lives. Go and live yours peacefully and with love. Ron would have wanted it that way.