I started this company http://www.nextgenmemorials.com with my friend Bob Wheeler 17 years ago. Unfortunately, in one week, Bob lost his brother and his best friend. Over lunch yesterday, Bob mentioned that he wrote a eulogy for his best friend Brad and delivered it to a standing room only crowd of over 300 people.
Bob said it was a very moving experience delivering a eulogy. The audience went from laughing to crying and then laughing again.
He told me a couple of the stories about the crazy times he and Brad had together and I asked if he would share the eulogy with the thought our readers might get some inspiration on how to write a touching eulogy. I believe it will be worth your time to read it and we both it helps you if you find yourself needing to write a eulogy for a best friend.
Eulogy for Brad
I had the honor of knowing Brad for the past 40 years. Brad was such an important part of my college and post college years. We met at a restaurant, by the name of Bill Knapps in East Lansing, Michigan. We were both working our way through Michigan State University. Brad was a cook and I was a waiter. We quickly become friends. Brad was warm, funny, super helpful, always giggling and more importantly was ALWAYS up for playing a prank or practical joke. Brad’s personality was frankly bigger than life and so many of us around him just loved to be in his orbit. We loved the uncertainty of what he was up to next. We never knew what to expect and that was exciting!
I’d like to share a few memories of my friend Brad starting with one from those restaurant days. One unforgettable event early in our friendship came after a long shift of waiting tables. I was exhausted and wanted to head back to the dorm. I went out to my car and to my surprise the car was sitting up on top of 4 milk crates! All 4 wheels were off the ground! Brad and another one of the cooks had come out, and somehow, and I have no idea how,
lifted up my car and put milk crates below the undercarriage so it was floating several inches off the parking lot. I knew immediately who was behind this! Brad!! I went marching back in the restaurant and Brad and the other cook were laughing hysterically! They quickly admitted to doing it and after much begging on my part, they took it off the milk crates and I drove home. But now it was my turn and I plotted revenge. It was during the Autumn and there were piles of leaves everywhere, I’m not sure why or how I thought of it, it seems bizarre in hindsight, one night under the cover of darkness, I was able to gather up bags and bags and bags of fallen leaves, and I filled up Brad’s entire van from the floor to the ceiling with those leaves. The van was basically transformed into a dumpster full of leaves. That was back in the days when college kids did not lock their cars. When he came out to go to work the next morning, he couldn’t get in his van. It was impossible. He had to find a rake and clear the entire vehicle. He knew immediately that it was I who had done it but, of course, I denied it. We laughed about that retaliation endlessly. Leaves were found floating around that vans for years to come.
Another memory from the period, which Brad and I have laughed about through the years was when Brad, I and 8 other team members from the restaurant went on a tour of Bill Knapps’ food processing plant about an hour’s drive from East Lansing. Brad took his van and another colleague drove his car. The 10 of us were piled in 2 vehicles. At the end of the plant tour, we were each given our own individual chocolate cake neatly boxed. Bill Knapps was very well known for their chocolate cake. Well, of course, those cakes never made it home. Albeit so juvenile, we had a food fight or cake fight between Brad’s van and our colleague’s car while driving down the freeway. As we were speeding along on our journey home, Brad took his cake and threw it at the windshield of our friend’s car. They of course retaliated and starting flinging cakes at our van. Within in minutes all ten cakes were splattered over the 2 vehicles. In our young brains, we thought it was just hilarious. That was life with Brad.
Another memorable adventure was a weekend ski trip to northern Michigan. We were both with our college girl friends, and by the way, for those of you who know me, that was memorial unto itself that I had a girl friend!!
but I digress…. I’ll get to that piece of the story in a bit. As we were driving up to Northern Michigan on a wintery evening, when we pulled off onto an exit ramp, we hit a patch of ice. The van careened off the road and rolled several times down a snow covered hillside. We weren’t of course wearing seat belts and we and the ski equipment went flying every where. We were lucky that no one was impaled by a ski pole. With the van lying on its side, we pushed the passenger door up toward the sky, crawled out and walked away unharmed. It was another day in the tempest surrounding Brad.
We had so many adventures during our college years. We went on endless vacations together, from skiing in Colorado every Spring break to going to visit his brother Bart in Hawaii.
One story that Brad used to razz me about is on one of our road trips to Colorado with other friends Wazoo and Healey, the four of us stopped at a McDonald’s somewhere in the middle of Iowa and Brad noticed 4 attractive college girls also heading out to Colorado for Spring break and struck up a conversation with them. He even got us invited to join them for
lunch. We sat down and started eating our hamburgers and fries. Things were going very well. Brad, Wazoo and Headly were flirting with the girls when all of a sudden I blurted out to one of the young woman “you have really nice teeth”. The conversation came to a screeching halt and those women said “ummm, we have to go now”. When they left, Brad said “are you kidding? Why would you tell that girl she had nice teeth?… you blew it for us Wheeler”. Who tries to pick up woman with a line like that?” I wasn’t trying to pick her up, obviously, I just wanted her to know she had nice teeth. For the entire trip Brad kept reminding me that because of me they had missed their opportunity with those girls. But then, about a week later, I ran into the girl with the “teeth” at the top of a ski slope in Colorado and she said “OMG, you’re the guy who said I had nice teeth”! I obviously made a big impression despite what Brad thought. We have never stop laughing about my gaff.
Brad was always the life of the party during college. It was exhilarating to be in his presence. No one could ever predict what would happen next. He was always playful and good spirited but occasionally a thing or two would get broken by his over-the-top enthusiasm. So friends in our circle, gave him the nickname of “Bulldozer Brad” since no one ever knew if the house would be standing after a party with Brad in attendance.
Despite having a reputation for being the wild and crazy guy, beneath it is all Brad was one of the kindness and gentlest men I’ve know. After we left college and both moved to California in the late 1980’s. I ended up in San Francisco and Brad in Atascadero. I was a late bloomer and it was that time I came to terms with being a gay man. It was a difficult period. I was terrified all my friend and family would disown me if I came out. It was a different time of course. But I finally just had to admit it to the world. Brad was my first stop on my “coming out” tour. I drove to Atascadero and sat down with him to break the news. I was so nervous. I actually started crying and I said “Brad I need to talk to you about something very serious”. When I finally blurted out through the tears that I was gay, he said “is that all?!” “I thought you were going to tell me you murdered someone since you were so upset”. He told me he loved me and always would and it didn’t matter. I will never forget his kindness and compassion. The big macho Brad was a softie at heart. I always knew it deep down but that moment confirmed it.
I will also never forget the time he came to Napa Valley to watch me and my friend Michelle Dodd run a marathon. It rained for 4 hours straight that day and at the 2 hour mark, as the rain came down in buckets, Brad join me and Michelle in the race and ran next to us the entire way encouraging us by saying “you can do it”. We were all drowned rats. Brad could have easily gone back to the hotel to stay dry but he didn’t. He made sure that we knew that he had our backs and would see us threw to the end of the race. Such a true blue friend he was.
But Brad was still Brad and his “fun loving side” was never far below the surface. Around the same time period as the Napa Marathon, I had a birthday party in San Francisco. Brad made the journey to the city to celebrate. And during that one party these three things happened and I kid you not:
1. Brad cut a piece of birthday cake and then preceded to wipe the cake knife, covered in frosting, on the jeans of one of the most persnickety guests you could image. Her name was Nelda and she was obsessed with cleanliness, order and took great pride in her appearance. Of all people! It sent her into a tizzy!
2. Brad also took scalding hot tongs used to serve corn on the cob and squeezed the ear lobe of another friend George. George was shocked. We have photos of George icing his earlobe after the event.
3. And finally, as my friend Michelle recently reminded me, DURING the party, he emptied the garbage can in the middle of the kitchen floor and reprimanded me for all the recyclable items that would end up in the landfill.
It was never a dull moment with Brad. He was truly one of a kind. I considered him a brother.
A mutual friend of ours from college recently described Brad as an incredibly fun loving person who was strong, confident, gentle, loving and accepting. I thought that description summed him up very well. I know he struggled during the last few years but that was not who he was. I will remember Brad for his laughter, sense of mischief and enthusiasm for life. But it was above all his kindness and compassion which were truly remarkable.