Excerpts from Community Memorial Service

December 15, 2001

Pastor Mitch Watney

Thank you so much for coming today. We want to welcome you warmly to
this memorial gathering. We are here today in honor and in memory of
the four men who are lost at sea this last Tuesday off Yaquina Head
aboard the F/V Nesika. It should be obvious that this tragedy has
affected us all, our whole community. Because we know the men who are
lost, because we know this hardworking fishing community; and because we
live here beside the wide, awesome and sometimes wild body of water we
call the sea. This tragedy, this event reminds us how vulnerable we are
and how tentative our existence can be. No one has been more deeply
shaken than the families and the loved ones of those men who are lost
and the fishing community who risk their lives regularly in this way.
We gather today to give honor and to remember and to seek strength and
hope. Gathered in this community, gathered to care and support one
another. Let us pray.

Almighty God, creator of heaven and earth, it is written that in the
beginning you, O God, preparing to bring this world into existence, that
your spirit moved over the face of the waters. We ask now that your
spirit would also move among us. Bring comfort and hope to our spirits;
that as we grieve this tragedy and suffer this loss that you might bring
nurture and healing as we seek to remember as we must give thanks for
our young men who are lost at sea. Give us this hope we pray, O God,
that these dear ones are not lost to you and that your spirit still
moves with them still. Help us in your wisdom to give them into your
almighty hands we pray. Amen.

As we gather today to share memories you will have an opportunity, some
of you, to offer a memory and to give thanks for these men. We must
also recognize that we each have different ways of seeing and different
ways to believing and different ways of bringing hope. Today may we
share from our hearts and from our own experience and from our own hope
as we seek to bring comfort and to be thankful and to bring peace, each
in our own differing ways. May we all honor the uniqueness of each as
we share together.

Jeff Feldner:

Like some 200 of us or so from the Newport fishing fleet, I was at sea
on Tuesday when the news came on the radio that a boat had gone down.
I'll tell you a little bit what it was like. The deck didn't stop
moving and the desperate effort to get the crab pots off the boat
didn't stop. The deck chatter stopped, it got colder, the sky got
darker, and the seas looked bigger. And this was even before we heard
which boat it was. It felt just like getting hit in the chest with a
crab pot. And it always does.

Like all of you I've now had a few days to try to cope with my
feelings about this and I've asked to share some of the thoughts with
you now from the perspective of the community of those who were lost.
In our case, the community of the fishermen. This is an honor for me
and I realize that it's probably an impossible task to do. It's
impossible to verbalize the pain and fear and the absolute awe that we
feel when someone goes down at sea. But there are some feelings that I
think that all of us who work on the ocean share. I first realized at
least one of these a few years ago when I was asked to give a talk over
at a class at OSU when I was working up an introduction and I was going
to talk about why it is that we fish. I mean, why would an otherwise
sane person do something that's this dangerous and this hard and faced
with these kinds of uncertainties. And I started writing down the usual
things, you know, the independence and the lifestyle and, you know, the
sort of purity that comes with being able to do something real. But I
realized there's something else that wasn't there -- something else
that I hadn't gotten. And it's something that you really can't
verbalize but it's something that everyone who has fished, anyone
who's really worked on the ocean feels, and it's the sense of
absolute rightness about what we do. It's inside, it's visceral.
There's a certainty about it that I've never heard one fisherman or
woman deny. And it happens on a day like today, it happens on a day
like Tuesday, any day when you're out there and, you know, the wind is
blowing on you and the sea is up and the fish are biting and you just
feel like there is absolutely nothing better. I mean, you are so
focused, your, the clarity is just incredible. You feel like you're
absolutely doing the right thing, you know, inside. It feels like our
species evolved doing these things and at those times we feel more
alive. In a sense we feel closer to God then. And there's a price
that we pay to be that alive. And we all know that price with the same
certainty that we know how good it can be other times. And that price
is the absolute acceptance of our mortality. The sea can take us just
like that. There's, it's kind of a cosmic equation that has to be
balanced. If, to get that close to God you have to accept that God can
take you back.

This isn't new, this isn't new knowledge. Every person earning a
living from the sea knows it. Everyone who's ever worked at sea has
known it for thousands of years. And those four men who we lost on
Tuesday knew it. Somehow I think it's that shared vision of just
what's right, how good it is, as well as the acceptance of our
humanity and our mortality creates a bond, a really powerful connection
that fishermen have. We have it with all fishermen, we have it with the
seamen from years ago that we don't even know, and it's an
especially strong bond here in our community. It's something that I
feel even in a roomful of stressed out, cantankerous fishermen just
aggressively arguing about the price of fish or the manner of executing
the fishery or whatever. And there are times in those places when I
look around and I look at these people and I realize that I really like
these people. And it isn't that I just like those guys -- I am those
guys. I'll always be those guys. And they all as a part of me.
They're fathers, husbands, sons, nephews, our peers. These men are
our brothers; they're our brothers-in-arms. And that's why it hurts
so damn much to lose them.

Alan Eder:

My name is Alan Eder. How can we console ourselves upon the loss of
anyone near and dear to us, much less those who are taken long before
their time. When people who are loved and cherished so much and by so
many, how are we to make sense of them suddenly vanishing from our
midst? How can a loving God who created us take us away seemingly at
whim? These and so many other questions have been agonizing churned
over and over in the minds and hearts of all of us gathered here today
to honor the four good men who perished last Tuesday when the NESIKA

Benjamin Alan Eder, beloved son, brother, nephew, cousin and grandson
was named after his father's father whom he never met. He came to
know his late grandfather both through the recollections of others and
eventually through the blossoming of his own character and personality
so much akin to those of his namesake. Armed with boundless energy and
enthusiasm, Ben had already accomplished much in his short life. To
contemplate what might have been had he lived four times as long as his
mere 21 years simply boggles the mind.

Although he didn't spend too much time in houses of worship, he
relentlessly probed and wrestled with the mysteries of the notion of
God. His grandma Betty, a Catholic, relates an exchange they had when
Ben was just a young boy. Gesturing toward the sky he asked, "You
don't really believe God is up there, do you?". "Yes, I do,"
she replied. According to Grandma Betty, he concluded the exchange by
shooting her an impish glance of disbelief. Ben was too young then to
know the word agnostic, which, as he grew into a man, he later used to
characterize how he thought and felt about God. He wasn't sure
whether or not God existed and if He did, where or what God was. For
the celebration of his 13th birthday, his grandma Edie took him on a
trip to Israel -- the first of Ben's many world travels. Before Ben
went he asked his good friend Derek, of this very church, what he could
bring him back from the Holy Land. Water from the River Jordan was
Derek's desire. To fulfill his friend's request, Ben asked his
grandma to take him to the river where he carefully collected samples of
the special water for Derek and others who had requested it. Thoughtful
and sensitive to others as he always was, he knew that faith was
something very real to so many people that he respected and that
intrigued him. In fact, in addition to the essentials that he took on
this last trip was a thick paperback book entitled "Islam." It's
not that Ben was aspiring to become a Muslim; rather, it was simply
another step in his attempt to solve the perplexing puzzle of who we are
and why we are here. While he may not have been affiliated with a
religious denomination, Ben regularly worshiped at the ruthless,
roofless -- although also ruthless at times -- the roofless house of
nature. There he experienced his deep connection with the unity of all
creation. Perhaps that explains why he once drove from Portland and
back just to share the sunset over the ocean with someone who hadn't
ever witnessed this wonder. He wanted not only to drink in Mother
Nature's precious gift again himself, but also to enrich the life of
another. Which he did routinely with his trademark passion, the
trademark passion with which he approached all aspects of life great and

Nowhere was his investment of his entire being more apparent than when
he was fishing. Many aspects of commercial fishing had an irresistible
lure for Ben -- the multifaceted nature of being a fisherman,
weatherman, engineer, electrician and plumber all rolled into one --
plus ample opportunity to work his butt off like nobody's business.
And Ben understood well his father's joy and connection when it all
came together.

Ben was an exemplary older brother. The extraordinarily close and
exceptionally caring relationship he and his brother Dylan shared made
me want to have children of my own. My sons are just mad about their
much older and bigger cousins. I can't imagine better role models and
more loving cousins than Ben and Dylan Eder.

In closing, let us recall a t-shirt he often wore, which said all:
Attitude makes a difference. Ben was ever eager to contribute, and his
attitude was always, always overwhelmingly positive.

On that note, I leave you a quote from the great Winston Churchill:
"When you're going through Hell, keep on going."

Peter Jordan:

My name is Peter Jordan and I grew up with Ben. I kind of want to tell
you a few stories and relate them back to certain things (???). At the
beginning of last January we were, I was heading south from Guatemala
City to meet Ben in San Jose, Costa Rica. You see, the school year
before took its toll on us and we decided before we ran out of steam
it'd be a good idea for us to take some time off. During my
five-day bus trip to San Jose I stayed a night in Managua, Nicaragua.
This was the same night that El Salvador was devastated by an
earthquake. For all Ben knew I was in El Salvador. I gave him my
general itinerary and that was to head south. Upon arriving in San Jose
I checked my e-mail which I hadn't done in about a week and Ben sent
me a message the day after the earthquake. I'm going to read this
message to you: "Hey Buddy. Haven't heard from you in a couple of
days and I'm worried about you and where you were during the
earthquake. I'm arriving in San Jose on the 16th and I plan to e-mail
you every day. If you don't respond or show up I'll head north and
begin searching through building and through building for you in the
rubble." Without a doubt in my mind, Ben would have done that. He
would have done it for anybody. It was his sense of responsibility that
was above anybody else's. If a need was present he'd be there to
fill it.

Ben and I had many agreements when we were growing up. For years we
had an agreement that no matter have likely his immune system would
reject it, I owed him a kidney.

Although he was a very responsible person, he's incredibly generous.
He would always be the first person to cover the extra on a restaurant
bill and he at any moment he would listen to people's problems. On
countless nights Ben and I would march in each other's room and spend
hours frustrated, spinning out monologues about how we were so pissed
off at the injustices in the world, things that made us mad.

Ben has been my best friend and confidante since Mrs. Lesley's 4th
grade class. And we've had so many fond memories together. One that
really sticks out is when we were in grade school and Ben, Dylan and
myself were crafting spears on the beach, building shelters, for one
whole day we were barbarians. All this time I had known that he was,
how fascinated with the world he was in just seeking knowledge. I would
definitely describe him as a Tolstoy-type character. These last four
years, though, the introspective and considerate side of him which I
loved so much came to bloom. The ideas he embraced developed into a
philosophy of life that impacted everyone he knew. Reading was not
enough; he had to experience the world for himself, and he worked hard
every summer and break so he could follow his dreams. He had a
boundless curiosity; he wanted to learn as much as he could. I'm sure
somewhere deep in his mind he use to store all his experiences to the
finest detail like we've all seen with his ingenuity and craftsmanship
which would one day be a great book where thousands of stories (???) to
us. This is how Ben wanted to live his life: he wanted to live it
simply but fully. And all along being the guy who marched in the house
with food in hand, ready to eat a good meal, drink a fine bottle of
wine, and talk about the state of the world.

Last year traveling with Ben was the last time I spent a significantly
quantity of time with him. And I realize, like I had many times before,
how much I admired him. There are so many mental pictures in my head of
him gazing out into the ocean where ever we were -- we spent most of our
time on the ocean -- writing in his journal or staring into the sky with
a book broken open on his chest, considering the people of (???) Brazil,
and how they aren't that much different from the hardworking people in
his home community.

Ben changed so much and he had his finger on so many things. In spite
of how much he changed he never forgot about his home and the people he
loved and respected here. The experience he shared with the crew of the
NESIKA and the MICHELE ANN he brought back to us at Reed College as a
unique perspective of a lifestyle that encompassed hard work, danger and
an environment so different from our own.

Ben's incredible energy and fascination with life has infused all who
knew him with desire to learn, learn, learn.