|David Guth's Eulogy to Arthur Southard
October 28, 2006
Wye Mills, Maryland
|Others called him "Arthur" or "Art" or - in the case of his
sister - "Artie." I could never quite bring myself to do that. I
had such profound respect for this man that I always - to this day -
speak of him as "Mr. Southard." In some ways, this isn't any different
than most of us think of our teachers from grade school to college.
We certainly didn't call Mrs. Donahue "Rachel" or Mr. Hall "Bob."
In so many ways, Mr. Southard was a teacher. But he was unlike any other teacher I ever had. As Scoutmaster of Troop 147 in Saint Michaels, he taught me how to tie a square knot and two and one-half hitches. He also taught me how to "police the area" and to leave a campsite better than I had found it. That's not a bad philosophy for the rest of life.
He taught me how to eat a crab. And what kind of self-respecting Eastern Shoreman would I have been if I hadn't learned how to do that?
He taught me how to drive - in a Ford Econoline van. Imagine learning how to drive in a truck! And learning how to parallel park in a truck! Of course, he may have doubted my ability in that area. When it came time for me to take the driving test, he called his friend, automobile dealer Johnny Fortenbaugh, and we borrowed a car. I took my parking test in a VW bug. Maybe it wasn't a statement on my driving. Maybe it was his way of saying that if you prepare yourself for the worst, then real life isn't that bad.
He taught me how to be on time, to clean up while creating a mess, and to be respectful of my elders. He taught me to listen to alternative views, to honor the traditions of others and to respect people different than me.
Mr. Southard was never married and never had any children. But I believe he taught me to be a better husband, a better father, and, someday, a better grandfather.
In a time in my life when my future hung in the balance, he stepped into the breach and taught me value in reaching out to others, lending a guiding hand, and that kindness and compassion are their own rewards.
When I last talked to him on the day before he died, his voice was strong, his mind was clear and his heart of full of love and compassion. This is how I will always remember him. And if I have learned from the example he set in his own, remarkable life, then I would have learned the greatest lesson of all.
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