Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Ward Schwartz has been a model citizen. A pillar of the community. Please do not let this charge of "Lewd Behavior" tarnish what is a generally clean…record… (LOOK) I'm sorry. Those are my notes for next week.
Friends, honored guests, co-workers…Paw. We have gathered today to celebrate the career of Mr. Schwartz. A man who has given stellar service to Standard - Amoco - BP and all points in between. His skill, charisma and professionalism have always been an example to his coworkers, the pride of his managers and symbol of his dedication to excellence. How gratifying it is to see a man enjoy his work and never let the burden of his unfortunate first name get in the way.
And so the man who raised me sits before you now, riding that last wave of his career before soft landing on the beaches of retirement and shaking the scratchy sand of old age out of his shorts.
When I think of my father I can only quote STAR WARS in saying "He's more machine now, than man." As many of you know he has been upgraded in recent months with a plastic hip and a bionic ear. But the hair is real. Unnaturally white, but real. But that is what my father has always stood for. Real hair and genuine American made parts.
It has been said that all men are warriors, magicians and kings. Ward like all of us has worn many faces. There is the Ward you have all known in your daily dealings. And there is the Ward that we have known at home. Two distinct entities. One man. On this special occasion I would like to tear down that wall and show you the man that I know.
The contrasts are startling. While a scientist and worker of confidence and skill here in the labs…at home I have seen the man glaze over like a frightened rabbit at the VCR remote. While a safety coordinator on site here…he nearly lost a finger trimming the hedges AND blew himself across the room lighting the pilot light in the furnace. Ward takes great pride in working with environmental technology and helping to protect nature and yet I have watched him beat rodents to death with a tennis racket. Two faces. One man.
Ward is a man of principles. These many years he has never sold out, backed down or allowed me to adjust the thermostat without his help. Of all of these principles, the thermostat is the most important. A man's home is his castle and the relationship between a man and his thermostat is sacred. This is what I have learned. I have also learned that "if you have to go to the bathroom, go now because we'll be leaving soon." Caring words that he still utters to me though I am now 30.
But what of the future? Where will Ward go as he moves into the next phase of his life? Wherever it is, I am certain he will take the one thing that he has carried with him all these years. His toenail clippers. One of the things few know about Ward is how important toenail grooming is to him. Whether travelling to Staines, England or Wood River, IL, Ward's trusty toenail clippers, the ones he calls "Gladys" aren't far away.
For the most part I have said my piece. I am certain that he will attempt to ground me for my comments here today. But I will probably divert his attention away by asking him to explain how to change the oil on my car or how the languages of Native Americans were interrelated. That's fine by me. I have learned more from my father than a hundred schools could teach and as I begin life with my family I look to him for wisdom. I look to him for guidance. And I look for him to explain how to set my thermostat.
Dad, I love you. Everyone here loves you. And I'm sure everyone here joins in as I offer to you the words you once gave to me and your father once gave to you. "Don't let the door knob hit you on the ass on your way out."