Saturday, September 3, 2016

Memorial Service for Prof. David Lavery

His memorial service -- a "Celebration of Life" -- was held yesterday morning, as well as a reception afterward. There must have been a few hundred people there -- friends, family, colleagues, students, and so forth. His absence has truly left a big hole.

I only attended the Celebration, as the reception was too far away for the wife and I to walk, but it was very well done. Four colleges, four former and current students, and two family members all spoke. The basic theme not only perfectly described Dr. Lavery, it was something he would have loved to hear about himself: "Relentlessly generous with his time, a great scholar, a great human being." Rhonda Wilcox, the co-founder of Whedon Studies alongside Dr. Lavery, had a story which I thought quintessential Lavery. Some years ago, Lavery had been invited to give the keynote address for the very first Joss Whedon conference, which was being held in England. He could have gone, of course, but he said, "Do you know Rhonda Wilcox? You should give her a try." Not only was that her first ever keynote presentation, it was also the first time she'd ever been to England -- she would never she said, have been able to afford the airfare if the conference hadn't paid that for her. 

So I loved that story. That's who David Lavery was: someone immensely proud of his own accomplishments, but even prouder of all the students and scholars whose careers he could help.

Lavery's daughter, Rachel, ended the Celebration of Life with a clip from Mad Men -- one of the best scenes, in Lavery's opinion, from one of the best shows ever to be produced on television. It's Draper's "carousel" pitch about nostalgia, "the pain of an old wound." It was a powerful ending to a powerful memorial service. The clip may be found below:


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