|A Celebration of Ben's Life
December 21, 2001
Music: Like a Rolling Stone
Good evening and welcome to the celebration of the life of Ben Eder. We are Ben's people and we're here tonight to share our cherished memories of Ben, a very, very special young man.
I first came to know Ben as a freshman in my health class in the fall of '94 and he made quite an impression on me and that impression only continued to grow the more I knew him and understood how complex and how much there was to him. I wrote a little piece about Ben that I was gonna open with, with tonight. One of the many things that I saw about Ben that were so unique were kind of the contrasts within him. Really a rare combination. He had such a strong character and he was of such high integrity and all the things, the combinations that he brought -- so easy going yet motivated; thorough but spontaneous; complex yet simple; proud but humble; hardworking, helpful; adventurous and dependable; intellectual and respectful; thoughtful, gracious; calming yet energetic; generous and appreciative; a student, teacher; loving, loved; gentleman and fisherman.
Those are just some of the words that describe Ben Eder and I invite everybody to share their memories and their words to describe Ben Eder tonight. Just come on up to the microphone and adjust it as you see fit to get up close to it and look forward to hearing and sharing with you.
I'm Bob's cousin; this is pretty difficult for me. If somebody would volunteer to be my second if I have too much difficulty I'd appreciate that, but we'll see.
Okay, the first thing I'd like to read is from my son, Michael, who couldn't be here and so this is his letter he wrote to Bob, Michele and Dylan. Actually I can't read with my glasses on, so.
I cannot express how saddened and shocked I am by your recent tragedy. Although I hadn't seen him very much over the past few years, I will always remember Ben for having a huge grin on his face and being one of the most friendly people I've ever met. I remember when I was young and all the cousins would meet at Aunt Edie's house for holiday dinner, we had so much fun playing with all the cousins while Alan would sing it would have been enough, it would have Alan? Okay. As I grew older I noticed that Ben had stopped going to Edie's holiday dinners. It wasn't because he got tired of the family, but he had grown up and became a man and was off to college. I remember hearing for the first time that Ben was taking a year off from school and living in South America. I was wondering to myself, why the hell is he doing that? But now I think I admire him for that. Ben was an adventurous person and full of life and he went out and made a dream happen -- something most of us don=t do. How many people can actually say they took a yearlong vacation, traveling around another country, all on their own, at such an early age? The tragedy that happened to my cousin Ben has made me stop to think life isn't always a guarantee and I think we should seize the moment. Living life to its fullest is what Ben did and what everyone should do.
The last time I spoke to Ben was a few months ago. We were just shooting the breeze with Norie, Adam and my brother, these are other cousins. We talked a little bit about what the future holds. Although he is gone Ben still has a bright future. He now lives in our hearts, and by remembering Ben and living life to its fullest we will help him reach his dreams.
There's a picture that will forever be etched in my mind. It was taken a long time ago at my house. Ben, Dylan, Norie, Adam, Beth, Matthew and I are all sitting on a couch with our arms around each other. Marley, Moses, you weren't born yet at that time, but you would have been there. In this picture Ben had this huge smile on his face, which is how I'll always remember him by. My deepest condolences, Michael. So, that's from Mike.
I wrote something. I'd like to begin by thanking my father and his sister, my Aunt Edie, that's Ben's grandmother, for keeping family important and making it possible for all the cousins to grow up together and share so much of our lives over these past 50 years .We've made a lot of wonderful memories over those years and they bring us tremendous joy and comfort. The greatest tragedies in our lives have been the oh-so-premature deaths of the two Bens. These guys were two enormous forces of life and although it gives us some solace to think that life is better measured by how much and not how long, they were cheated, we were cheated, because they could have burned brilliantly for a century. I can't express the depth of my grief, but the grief felt by Bob, Michele and Dylan is unimaginable; it's unthinkable because the unthinkable happened. Ben will be missed so much, but you guys didn't miss him. You saw him grow from a child to a boy and then to this exquisite young man. A parent cannot hear enough about their child. It's like a hunger and this is especially true today for Bob and Michele and it's great that Ben's fine friends are here to tell some wonderful stories about him. I think these stories will help round out the last years of his life that was so rapidly evolving and bring his trajectory through this world into a clearer focus so we can extrapolate to see what the future would have brought for him. But for me they provide the mental images by which I will always remember him. Because I did miss him; I didn't see him enough. The visits were too infrequent, they were too short; the family would congregate during holidays but because of geography and schedules it could not always be synchronized; there are always absences. And to make matters a little worse, we always tended to sit generationally whenever we got together. And I think Edie kind of tried to fix that last time and I think that's a good idea that we'll do in the future.
So there's a lot of Ben stories and I'm looking forward to hearing more of them tonight. I really like the big Lebowski story. That was a, I think Margo and I especially approved of the White Russian part of that one. Although when Michele was telling it, it was with a mother's slightly disapproving wink. Stories like this are fun; they're a little silly but they're actually very revealing. Ben was imaginative, principled, humorous, and a natural born leader. What more could you want from a friend, a brother or a son? And you know, Dylan probably has a shitload of stories to tell that he hasn't told yet, 'cause when I want to find out what's happening with my oldest son I just turn his little brother, turn his little brother upside down and start shaking him. Metaphorically, I don't really shake him, he's too big to shake. He used to be, but he's a lot bigger than me now.
So although, you know, I'm sitting here with a lot of regrets about what could have been, yeah, me, too, it feels good to know that Ben and I, we actually shared a number of things. And one of that was a love for science. When he was applying for colleges he told me that he was considering Reed College because of its excellent chemistry and psychology departments, his two biggest interests at the time. So this image popped into my head about a Bolshevik University with Timothy Leary as an emeritus professor and I thought, you know, that's pretty cool, a hell of a transition but, you know, I think he could do that. I think I'm a little off base, it was the wrong Reed and he told me about that, so, you know. But the last couple of years he's become, he became more outward looking. He spent a lot of time in South America; I guess this is a constant thing -- why was he in South America all the time? I mean, Chile and Venezuela and all these places. I wondered, but I'm sure it shaped his thoughts for the future and I know he was thinking about law -- that might be Michele's influence -- and international relations so he just seemed to be growing all the time.
Ben also had a lot in common with his namesake, my Uncle Ben. It would have been awesome for the two of them to have met. It just would be just, just too much. A long time ago my Uncle Ben gave me a math text that was well beyond my grasp, knowing that someday it wouldn't be. This book occupies a little space in the work shelf at work, so I look at it every day and I always have a memory of my Uncle Ben and this goes over 30 years. And now forever the two Bens will be together in my mind and I think that's all I have to say, so thank you.
All right. I'm Kelly Painter. Grew up with Ben. I kind of had a speech prepared but I think all the words are already taken out of my mouth, so, I can just, you know, remember, remember Ben, like I said, with a, with a smile always. He was just a happy person. Just a second. He just, he wanted, South America, I don't that was the place, I think that was just the beginning for Ben. He just, he wanted to know everything. He just had a thirst for knowledge and he was, he was on his way. And I know his death changed a lot of our lives, but I think his, his life changed our lives more. Thanks.
You know, when I sit back and reflect on Ben's life and what he meant to me, there are many things that come to your mind. You've heard some of them, you know, hardworking, nice guy -- these things are obvious to those who know him. However, I want to talk tonight about two things which I think are slightly less obvious. And one of them's slightly superficial and one of them's more serious. And the first one, actually, contrary to popular belief, yes, Ben was a nice guy, everyone loved Ben, but he's also the craziest man I've ever met in my entire life. This was demonstrated, for example, when he lit his beard on fire and actually severely burned his face. I, I don't know what you guys actually heard from that, however, somehow, I don't know, and I'm subject to a severe observer bias. For whenever I was around Ben, he was sort of just half a step over the line. Just half a step. But he was so nice, and you know, he was, got good grades in school, so he could always just pull it off when push came to shove. And friends like that are very hard to find. You know, but, he somehow I felt he, Ben certainly brought out the crazy side in me. And so I think our fathers always thought we were at our best together. And somehow I suspect that our mothers thought the opposite. But, you know, when I, no, this last week and a half I sit back and sort of remembered Ben and I painted him this rosy picture in my head. But I've only to look at the many scars in my body that I've received either directly from Ben or indirectly and I can remember that he had this just truly spontaneous side to him. It was really wonderful.
In addition to being a very, very crazy individual, Ben was probably the most curious and inquisitive fellow I've ever met in my entire life. And there was something so remarkable about it. And when he would always ask these questions, and I can tell you very well that is why he went to South America. Just this degree of inquisitiveness and he was just so curious and he'd always ask these questions. But when he asked them, it was so totally devoid of pretension; it was, there was something so humble and sincere in his questions. He just wanted to learn and to know. And it was really always been inspirational to me. And, you know, very often Ben and I would sit here and we'd ask ourselves, you know, ponderous questions and then ask ourselves, you know, why are we here? What is our purpose in life? You know, all these, is there a God? These sort of experiential questions which seemed to be the domain of a both college freshman and people in mourning, I find. And they are true of me and Ben in particular. We, so sometimes when we would ask them, we would have no answers. We'd ask these questions, but there's simply no answers to them. And I would submit that actually if Ben, he knew, if you asked him this question he would either go, why are you here, what is your purpose in life, Ben, he would tell you: I don't know, which is a very brave admission. However, I would submit that Ben's true purpose in life -- as he saw it -- was to learn and to grow as a person. And that is why he was the most sincere learner I've ever encountered. And I remember one time, actually, it was one of the more profound moments in my life. Let's see, we were, we'd just returned from our first term in college. We came back, that, it was December of 1998. And suddenly we were just horrified, we were shocked and just in awe that suddenly the world was such a bigger place. We never, somehow we never quite realized growing up in Newport. And we saw, and as we were sitting there, I remember, on the back in the deck at his house, and we were sitting there and we were commiserating, sort of our exsistential angst and our uncertainty about the great questions of life. And we were sitting there, you know, wailing our fate over an exceedingly cheap box of wine by my recollection, and he, I said something that was just, really struck me. He was referring to the questions to which we have no answers, you know: why are we here, etc. And Ben said to me, "You know, Brent, I bet you that the questions themselves are actually more interesting than any answer we could come up with." That's one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard. The question itself is more interesting than the answer. And somehow I feel that is Ben's legacy to me. Those are words to live by. And it's something I shall never forget.
Ben and I, we grew up together. We were best friends ever since the 1st grade. Actually, I remember I had to bribe him with a micro machine to get him to be my friend back in the 1st grade, but he'll always be a part of my childhood forever, as much as those, as micro machines and the Ducktales and the, the sneaking off to the Nye Beach Market to play Spy Hunter. He was a very loved, very loved man, and he touched a lot of people. I mean, you just have to look around you and see all the people who he touched and all the people who couldn't be here that he touched. He, I'm sure he would have loved it if I mentioned something about The Simpsons 'cause we shared that in common. He was, I won't, though, I'm sorry. So Mr. Campbell asked me if I had any anecdotes or stories to tell about Ben and so many stories; so much to tell. Some of them which just wouldn't be appropriate. So I'm not going to tell one. I just, if there's one person in this world that I've known that gave 100% of himself into everything that he did, it was Ben. You know, whether it be work, his school and especially the relationships with the people around him. He really inspired me to take a lot of chances that I might not have other taken otherwise. And I think that's the greatest gift he could have given anybody.
My name's John Harrington. I teach at the high school here. A lot of former students, a contingency from Reed, I understand, People's Republic of Reed, all right. And I'd like to share a story about this picture here. I use to be very particular about not letting students know where I lived. I don't know why, really, I just was kind of hypersensitive about my privacy. So I came home one day and there's Peter and Damien and Ben laying around on my living room floor. Apparently they'd conned my younger son Quinn into giving them directions and there they were. But the nice thing was, they brought me this. Now you probably can't see it -- it's a picture of the three of them seated on the hood of the Volvo, the infamous Volvo wagon, still running, is it? The Volvo wagon? It was a road trip that they were on; they took this picture. Next to it, a copy of "On the Road," Jack Kerouac, the last book we read in class that year and interestingly enough, on the corner of the windshield is the book duct taped right to the windshield for inspiration on the trip, apparently. So they brought this to me, framed, the three of them signed it, and here's the book, duct tape and all, one of the nicest things students ever did for me. And ever since then I've had this over my classroom desk. Now, of course, it's more dear to me than ever. Thanks.
So, my name's Peter Jordan. I'm sure some of you might know me. I think for a long time there's been a debate over who was a worse influence: was it me or Ben? And I really wanted to set it straight right now, that that guy pushed me more than anybody else. I told a story to the family about a week ago involving being in Venezuela. And I don't know if this really shines light on the possibility that, or the idea of why he would be there but I can assure you he had a good time. And the experience, the experiences down there were far from anything we've ever had before. But I told the story about a, we made it to Venezuela and we didn't have any money, really, because U.S. Bank froze Ben's account. Anybody who's banking for U.S. Bank just keep that in mind. There wasn't much mercy on the side of the corporative, corporate officers either.. We took a 15-hour bus from Valencia, and that's west of Caracas, to this peninsula right in front of, right above the Oronoco in Venezuela and we were going to meet up with our friend Ethan, 'cause he had a $2 million yacht over in Trinidad. And we knew that'd be a fairly safe place to be, it wouldn't cost us any money, I mean, it's a $2 million yacht. So our goal was to get there and we were really, I mean, really scraping by at this point. We weren't really eating anything and, I mean, I spent all my money on, basically our last bus ticket. It was a 15-hour bus ride and I've described the survival story of this bus and I don't know how many people here have been on a South American bus, but the air conditioning unit goes above and beyond its purpose. It was really cold on that bus. And, I mean, we, we were, it's the tropics, we were walking around in sandals and in shorts and a t-shirt and this bus, I mean, it was, it was close to freezing on this bus, and it's 15 hours. And I've spent some time in the Cascades and it's still, I mean, it was one of the coldest experiences of my life. So, it was survival situation, it was a survival situation for us on this bus. And so we were removing curtains and wrapping up in the curtains and clogging the vents with our socks. And so we made it through, obviously, and we made it to this little town called Gudia on this little peninsula.
We were about 20 miles from Ethan's yacht and we were completely out of money. We were trying to figure out how we were going to get there and so we went down to the port and well, Ben's like, well, I'm a fisherman. There's like this connection, I guess, an international connection between fishermen or he thought there was, at least. And so we went down to the port to find these fishermen to see if they could help us out. And I'd been in Latin America for a little longer than he had so my Spanish was better, although he was more driven so he was speaking Spanglish that he knew very well. And I wander off while he's talking to these fishermen and he's trying to convince them, I guess there's a town that's only accessible by boat and bush plane, I guess, further out in this peninsula and that would get us even closer to Ethan over in Shagaramus (sp) Bay. And we kind of hatched together this plan to have Ethan take the 8-foot dingy through international waters. What's that? Yeah, and that's another thing. This is a, Venezuela's is a, it's a, it's major exporter of oil, so there was a lot of freight going through this area. And so this was a consideration; we kept this in mind. But Ben's trying to work out all these details with the fishermen and I'm over there buying mangos and I come back, I mean, it's an amazing deal on mangos, and I came back with just arms full of mangos, I guess I wasn't ready to be on a boat and he's like, what the hell are you doing? And we talked to these fishermen there, like, they finally worked out, you know, that they could get us to this little town. And then, we were in telephone communication with Ethan and he was going to come by and pick us up on the little 8-foot dinghy. And then, I don't know, I guess people's always called me, Ben's, like, mother at college, but I don't know, I think we were pretty much, I think we're both using our good judgment on not going. But I have to say that I've done a lot of really stupid things in my life and I don't regret many of them, but I'd say that the dumbest things I've ever done were not going with Ben on things. And I can cite so many times that I had a chance to Brazil with him and go to the Dominican Republic with him and all these completely crazy ideas. Brent was right, he's one of the craziest guys I know. But those are some, those are my biggest regrets in life -- is just not joining him in these things. 'Cause for some reason he was just smart enough to get through them.
Hi, everybody, I'm Ethan. I was the one that was, I was working on the boat; it wasn't like I owned it or anything, but. I have to say that I, part of my judgment came in on that, too, because Ben really expected, I think, he would have, if the roles had been reversed I have no question that he would have zipped over there in this dinghy even though I thought it was a ridiculous idea, picks me and Pete up.
I'm one of the Reed contingent, I guess. I met up with these two guys at Reed three years ago. I'm from Maine. And I felt, I remember the first day that we all got there, meeting these two guys and realizing that we were going to be fantastic friends from the very get-go. And I, one of the trips that Ben and I took was back to Maine and, you know, a small fishing town, not entirely unlike Newport. And I took him to see a couple of my old friends that, you know, from high school who had been, who'd been kind of mystified by me, I guess, over the past, you know, the 20 years beforehand. And they said that, afterwards they said that, you know, who is this guy? He's like a twin; he's like, you know, you guys have this bubbling energy. And I'm, and that was, like, the best thing that anybody had ever said to me, in a sense, I mean, Ben was a really, well, you all know, he was an incredible person. And to, for me he's, for me I'm going to remember that excitement of coming to Reed, coming to Oregon, going West, you know, starting a whole new life by meeting Ben and Peter and coming to Oregon. And there is this incredible enthusiasm and energy that Ben shared with all of us. My, the, my life's goals and everything I'm interested in I can relate back to conversations that I've had with him. I feel not only were we inspired together to do fantastic trips; I remember we went, well, but, not only were we inspired to do those trips but we also talked about these dreams that each other had and that we would have together of going fishing in you know, Siberia for salmon or for, you know, all these incredible ideas. And I have no doubt that all of them, you know, or some of them would have happened.
I just want to relate a couple images of that I have of my short time with Ben, three years really. As a, freshman year, after we were just starting this four-year school, we were all very excited to be there, and for fall break we have a week off in October because otherwise people would just not make it through to the, to finals, so we all went, Peter and Ben and a friend of ours, Ezra and I borrowed a friend's car and drove up to Banff and went to this mountain lake up there, way up in the Canadian Rockies. And it was, Peter and Ezra were kind of the, they were the calming factor, I think. They, we were talking about driving up to Alaska, you know, going up, we made it a long ways, I mean, we put like, I don't know, 1200 miles on the car, something like that. But I remember we camped out a night outside of Vancouver in a field of, or orchard of silver trees out in the middle of nowhere, we just found a place to pull over and camp out and just woke up and the rest of our lives was before us. We went to a few different sites along the way, cam loops, you know, these little teeny towns, and where ever we went Ben would get out and we'd talk to, you know, he'd kind of lead conversation, really, with all the people that we met and it wasn't just the fishermen, everybody that he met he was interested in engaging in conversation with and finding out everything about their lives. And he had a real skill, I think, some people aren't able to do that.
And then another great trip that I talked a little, I began to bring up, that spring after this the same year. We, I had this car this really, like, piece of shit car that was back in Maine and I had this idea we could fly back there and we had a week off we could drive it back to Oregon. So we proceeded to do that. We flew home and spent a day in Maine, you know, just kind of taking him around, see the sights, met a few lobstermen and really clicked with them and then we started driving. And we didn't really stop until New Orleans; between Maine and Oregon, somehow we ended up in New Orleans. And we spent most of the morning playing Frisbee there, I remember, he had this Frisbee, like, I'm sure all these trips were inspired by the earlier trip to San Francisco that I talked about earlier. We were, wherever Ben and I went on a trip we would stop and play Frisbee and then, so we got down to New Orleans and engaged with everybody we met there. Had all these brief little conversations to really kind of get a feel for the place. Then once we had that we kept going, we visited a friend of mine in Houston and then crossed over, we were driving through Texas and the beautiful, you know, long drive and, real long drive, this was like Tuesday or Wednesday, you know, of the week off. And Ben was poring over this map, looking over this, you know, the Gazetteers, well, there's this big space down there that looks pretty nice, too. How about we just kind of take a left, go down, head over to Mexico. And we had to be back at school, like, you know, couple days. I don't know, Ben, that's kind of a long way to go. But he convinced me, it was his idea. Next thing I knew we were crossing over the border at, like, I don't know 2:00 in the morning. We got across and we just keep, we were a couple of checkpoints, neither of them speak English, Peter brought up Ben's, Ben was fluent in Spanglish as Peter said and that kind of worked a bit. We went through, there's a checkpoint for some purpose up in the mountains with a bunch of Federales in these green, you know, uniforms and AK47's all around and we just, Ben, you know, he handled it very smoothly. I would sleep in the back when he had to deal with all these situations. We kept driving and I have this image of coming down out of the mountains, coming down seeing this beautiful plain before us and the Sea of Cortez between mainland Mexico and Baja in the very distance and just coming down and just being amazed by this new world west of the Sierra Madres that we were entering. And we drive down, stopped every now and again, little game of Frisbee, you know, keep going. Ended up coming down into this little beach town where we, and then somehow a rain storm came in, it was a rainy day at this point, and we stopped and, like, going out onto these touristy beaches, it was an off season, this was kind of near Tucson. Some of the people from New Mexico in particular probably recognize these areas, I mean, this was Rocky Point or something, I guess, down on the coast down there. Anyway, so we come out and nobody's around. Everyone, you know, all these hotels and barbeque pits and fish stands and nobody's there except all these vendors who we started talking to. And Ben immediately, like, strikes up a real connection with these guys and then we start, and he says, I'm a, what's it, pescadore, I think, fisherman in Spanish. And they all like smile and start laughing and, you know, there's tequila bottles handed around and next thing I know we're, like, swimming in the water and not worrying at all about Reed. Ben was able to embrace, you know, both sides of things. We were like racing along the, you know, the beach there are these roads that were cut out of the sand, out of sand dunes along the coast there and we'd be like racing these guys in four-wheelers when we had this car over the sand. And then I remember we met one of these vendors and we met back up with him that evening and he invited us into his home that evening, that night for dinner. We went back and it was a really humble home. And just one room, you know, a dirt floor and Ben and I were welcomed with open arms. We sat down and had a meal, a really lovely meal cooked by the man's daughter and I'll never forget, we were served boiled pigs' feet. And Ben just, you know, dug right in. And we, it was a great moment. Anyway, we crossed back over from there, we have, you know, we have to get back to school, so we went across the border that morning and, well, one of those mornings we visited his grandmother in Los Angeles and had a nice breakfast, (???) and drove up the coast and made it into Reed like, you know, six hours before we had to start class or whatever.
I don't, there's so many memories. I have so many really fantastic memories. Once we went down, this is going to be a short one, but once we went down to visit Ken Kesey, another illustrious Oregonian who recently passed away, and we, Pete and Ben and I really weren't, I mean, we wanted to, we were expecting meet Ken Kesey at another time, I guess, and under different circumstances. We had a friend who really wanted to read some poetry to him, you know, not the greatest poetry I've ever seen, but, so we headed down there and it was kind of awkward, we got down there, this guy read his poetry to Ken's wife, she wasn't around, I mean Ken wasn't there. And I remember, you know, I was trying explain why we had come, like, what we were doing. And this wonderful woman, Faye I think her name is, said, and I, and I told her, this is like my first year in Oregon, actually I'd, you know, when I think of Oregon I think of Ken Kesey, and I thought it was true at the point, at the time. Ben and Peter kind of asked me on the way back, what were you saying? What kind of a thing to say is that? I mean, and I think I can really say it about Ben. This was, Oregon for me is the start of the rest of my adventure, you know, the rest of my life. And that whole image is wrapped up in Ben. And a lot of what I want to do really relates back to him. And when I think of his life in that light, I realize that all those opportunities that we thought about, all those ideas that we had, are still there, you know. All these, this excitement that he brought into all of our lives is still there. You know, the world is still very open and Ben showed me that. Thank you.
Before I really got to know Ben was Phoebe's first year at Antioch College in Ohio. Two of us, all the way in Ohio, away from Newport, Oregon. She comes up to me and says, "I am going to South America." And I was, like, what are you doing? It's right in the middle of school. And anyone in Antioch knows that Phoebe is a really serious student. Highly, actually the biggest complaint I have, and this is for you Phoebe, is that no one's seen you this term. You're studying way too hard. So here, I just thought, this man must be incredible to make Phoebe Morris go so many miles. And in fact, I think Maureen and I were trying to figure out how to justify Phoebe going to South America be a school credit. And if you know anything about Antioch it might have actually worked. We figured since she's taking Spanish she could get Spanish credit 'cause she was going to go speak Spanish or something like that. But when she came back she was glowing and I knew this had to be a really incredible person. And later on, I think it was either in the summer or the spring, I=m not sure, when you go to Antioch you travel every four months so you don't really know what year or time or anything it is. Phoebe and Ben had this apartment in Newport, and it was a dreamboat. Had all these beautiful wood pieces from the beach, driftwood, see, I can't even remember what these words are any more, I've been away from you folks for so long, driftwood and shells and I think either Jonas or someone lived upstairs and there was talk about splitting the phone lines 'cause we didn't have a phone and it was just really a gorgeous apartment. With a massage table in it; it was, like, really equipped. And we went over, or I went over for a dinner and there was promise of fish, which someone who has been in Ohio for three years is serious motivation. I mean, I love fish and there was plenty of it there. We just ate and drank until we were so full we just kind of laid down on the floor and we, our coats were shiny and we were all really happy and it was a fantastic time. And I want to thank you, Phoebe, for introducing me to such a beautiful person. And I wish I could have gotten to know him better.
This has been wonderful. There's, I know there's a lot more stories to come. At this time I think we're going to take a short intermission. Before we go to the intermission there's going to be some music. Sarah Ball is going to play the piano and Erica Brookhiser is going to play the violin. And then we'll all join out in the lobby and have a toast to Ben.
Hi. I've chosen to play two pieces. One is a piece I played for our baccalaureate when we were graduating in 1998. And it may have been Ben's first and last time that he heard me play violin even though we went to the University of Oregon this last term and I always told him to come to my concerts but he always intended to but never had a chance to, and so. The second song I'm playing is specifically for him, so I hope he's listening. It's a Venezuelan song that I actually got in Panama where he, Ben happened to just pass through in town on his South American adventures. And so that's why I've chosen both of those.
...for Ben, and I'd like to introduce, we have four close friends of Ben's that are going to perform a musical number and Leah Ball is joining Stephanie Kalez Kate Kaufman and Jim Brookhiser. And this is a song called "A Little Help From My Friends" that was originally real special to this group of kids because the crowd, which is Kate and Stephanie and then Hannah Robbins, who's under the weather today, performed at their graduation for the Class of '98. So, please welcome them. And Leah Ball is also helping to sing.
I'll say something. It should also be noted that Nathan Ball is, as, me and Leah are more or less standing in for Hannah Robbins who would have normally done this. Nathan is standing in for Lauren Hesse -- where are you sitting -- over there, yeah. And so, ah, that's the normal accompanist for the crowd, which is more or less represented here.
Music: "I'll Get By With a Little Help From My Friends"
I'm Dave Bradshaw. Some of you don't know me without my beard, but it's me. Anyway. I teach little kids. I've been doing it a very long time. I teach wonderful little kids and they grow up to be wonderful, wonderful young people. And I guess I feel like I'm really lucky that part of me can live on in them. And that's sort of how I feel about Ben. Because I take, not only do I give to my students but I take from them. Part of them lives on in me. I'm not at all surprised at these wonderful stories that are being told and I'm sure every bit of them's true and there's a whole lot more that's not being told of Ben's life as he became a young man. I knew him when he was younger. I didn't know him when he was older but it's a real joy to see that the characteristics that I noticed in Ben as a young child went on to become wonderful. To become loved by those around him, to touch many, many lives in many countries and inspire people. I sometimes wonder if Ben realized that. He seemed always to know everything, so he probably did know. In class, he was always thinking, processing everything that was going on. He wanted to learn. He worked together with me and with the other students in the class to get as much as he could out of that class. Sometimes kids work it the other way -- see how little they can get by with -- but Ben wanted it all to happen and he wanted to learn. He wanted to go forward with things.
I had the privilege of working directly with Ben in chess club for a couple of years. He was our undisputed champion. Most of us didn't really want to play Ben, we just wanted to hang around with him. His intellect and his strategy put him way ahead of the rest of us, myself included and I was the coach, I mean, what did I know. The risk taker that was talked about tonight; he couldn't have been the awesome chess player without being that risk taker. The creative genius. His quiet, clear understanding. Seemed like no matter what came his way, you could just kind of tell, written all over him in his body language, I'm going to make it, and he did. He just did. He was our team captain when we went to the state tournament. None of us would have it any other way, we were all scared to death. Not Ben, though. He led the team as they advanced round by round, finished in fourth place in the state under his care. I was there, I was the coach, but it was under Ben. Ben did it. But he never acted aloof and above the rest. He willingly advised and encouraged all of us. He was one of those students whose memory I treasure as an example of the education process at its prime. I mean, he was ready to learn, wanted to learn, right off the best and me as a teacher, and I'm sure others who taught him, felt the same way. I'm sure he didn't reserve that just for me. I'm grateful to have had the pleasure of sharing in that part of his life.
Michele and Bob and Dylan, thank you for sharing Ben with me. And thank you for being there for me.
I first met the Eders in the wrestling room at Newport High School. And it was those Eders that I came to know that I learned to respect who they were by the boys they brought into this world. And I get up here tonight as my respect for the youngest Eder boy that's still here and dealing with the loss that he has.
Thirteen years ago on Christmas Eve I lost a daughter. And I don't know what it's like to lose a brother, but I do and have lived and seen what it's like for the siblings that are left behind when you lose a brother or a sister. Dylan, I hope that you realize that Ben's in a safer place today than where we are right now and the things he did in his lifetime surpass many of what we will do in ours and he did it in half the time, a third of the time, a quarter of the time of many of us in this room. He's waiting for you and he's still going to be the inspiration and leader that he always was. I look at these candles and three-quarters of them have two brothers standing there, sitting there, with smiles on their faces.
During the year that Dylan wrestled for us, many a night Ben would come in and pick him up. And some nights Ben would be there early and would be anxious to get going to whatever he had going on. And other nights he'd be there late and still be anxious to get going to get whatever he had going on.
I have one story about Ben and it was the first time I ever met him. I was new to the Newport High School as a teacher and I was only working half days and I was subbing for Dave Dempster and we were in the portable out back by the fairgrounds there. It was a psychology class. The class of 1998 had a lot of intelligent kids in it and you've heard some of them speak up here this evening. It's pretty tough when you have kids come into class and even though you've been teaching for 10 years you know you're in trouble because you can just tell by the way they carry themselves that they're smarter than you are. This psychology class, Mr. Dempster knew that he was in trouble with the sub he had coming in to sub for him that day, and so he left a movie for us to show. And the class came in and they got seated and we started taking roll and all of a sudden the door flies open and in comes this young man that was walking off the cover of a GQ magazine. I mean, he was dressed nice; as one male to another, he was as handsome as they could be. He walked into class like he should have been teaching it. He sat down at a desk at which numerous young ladies started, who had been sitting there quietly waiting for class to get started for this highly intellectual movie that the sub was going to be showing that day, started talking to this young man. And I heard one of them say, "Ben." So I looked down at my gradebook and sure enough, marked tardy was a young man by the name of Ben Eder. "Mr. Eder, you seem to be a little bit late today." "Yes sir, but I feel I'm here plenty of time to get the education that I'm probably going to get from you today." One thing that was unique to Ben Eder, and you might have picked up on it on some of the stories you've heard tonight -- how often could somebody tell you to go to hell and you enjoyed them doing it? We showed the movie, as he sat there and ate an early lunch, and as we were getting up to leave, or they were leaving and I said, "Mr. Eder, did you learn anything today?" And he said, "I'm going to have to think about that for a while." Come graduation as I was shaking hands and saying goodbye to a lot of the kids, he leaned over and he said something to me. He said, "Hey, Mr. OD." "I said what." "I learned something that day in psychology class." And I said, knowing I was setting myself up for a major tumble, "And what was that, Ben?" "Well, I learned that wrestling coaches really don't know how to teach psychology and I don't think I'll ever be one."
This young man is as sharp as a whip and what he can no longer do for us here on earth he is taking care of God's business today. Our loss is heaven's gain. And one day we will get back to seeing that smile and hearing that, the wit that came from him. And Dylan, I want you to know that that time I spent with you, different as night and day as what Ben is, you just remember that the time you had with him was worth everything that you'll ever have in your lifetime. And someday you'll get a chance to say some of the things that maybe you feel like right now you never got a chance to say. I believe in you, your folks believe in you, and Ben believes in you.
Ben Eder was an easy young man to love, and unfortunately we all got cut short on that, but the impact that he had on many of the lives that I've heard here tonight, he was pretty amazing. And unfortunately it takes something like this sometimes, as one of his classmates said before the intermission, how inspired they were, they can't wait to finish this next term of college so they can travel and see some of the world that Ben saw. And fortunately we were able to see some of that world through Ben's eyes.
Dylan Eder, I always missed that you never came back to wrestling but I want you to know you're a fine young man and life will get better as you battle through this time right now. And do it for yourself. Thank you.
My name is Lauren and I was a friend of Ben's. We met our first day of college, in fact, and pretty quickly became friends, Ben and Peter and I. And I remember, you know, he didn't have a car his first year of college. And so he'd call me periodically and invite me to go out with him, I had a car, and occasionally, you know, he would call and invite me to go on a date. And we were just friends but it was, like, well, hey, you know, Lauren, why don't you get dressed up a little bit. I'll get dressed up, too. And, you know, would insist that I wear a skirt and, you know, would take me out. And he did this this one time, well, you know, look nice, 'cause we're, I'm going to take you out. I'm, like, great, I'm going to go on this nice date, he's going to take me to a nice restaurant, so I pick him up and then he has to drive because, you know, he's taking me out although it is my car, and he takes me to this dive, this Lebanese joint and orders, like, falafel sandwiches left and right and goes all out, and we're the only people in that restaurant. Like, just us. And, you know, so, it was actually really nice and as we're leaving, you know, he's driving, and I, he's kind of like reversing a little aggressively, I mean, hits the curb with my tire and pops the tire. And so we're stranded. You know, it's the middle of December and it's raining heavily and we can't figure out how to get the spare tire out of the trunk. And we spend probably an hour and a half in the rain. And it was just, you know, like, if I could have been mad at him I would have, but he was so charming and so entirely sweet the entire time that it was worth it, you know, to spend that hour and a half in the rain with him. And I think at one point, you know, he kind of like takes off his really wet jacket and offers it to me. You know? Like maybe an hour into the adventure and then, you know, so we finally had to call someone to come and help us and it turns out that it was, you know, embarrassingly easy to get the tire out of the trunk and on the car. But I think he took me out to another dinner to make up for that time. But, you know, he was a charmer. And he was just a ray of light and was always so totally pleasant to see.
And I have this one other short story that, my first summer after school I was living in Portland and I'd come down occasionally to see Ben and Peter and I came down this one time, you know, and didn't really have any expectations of the visit, was just kind of hang out for the weekend. And these boys had heard about this, like, ballroom dancing -- was that it? Was it ballroom dancing? This ballroom dancing lesson in this gymnasium in Toledo, okay. So they're kind of like, hey, this will be really fun. And I'm kind of like, oh, you know, oh, okay, I don't really ballroom dance, do you? No, no, we're going to learn. And so, you know, Ben shows up in the huge diesel truck, this like, you know, one of the big trucks and you can hear it, like, a mile off and kind of loads us in it, you know, and I'm kind of sitting in the middle of these two guys and he's kind of, you know, tearing around in this big ole' truck. And so we, you know, wind up in Toledo in this little gymnasium in this, like, really small school, you know, the kind of school that you'd always, well, I'd always heard about, like, this little, it was so totally charming, and to go inside, you know, and it smelled like a school. So, and I don't know how many of you know this, but Ben's a really lousy dancer. I mean, he is terrible. He was a terrible dancer. I don't know, but he was so enthusiastic. It was all enthusiasm but kind of no rhythm to match it. I mean, you know, it's kind of, like, swirling me around this dance floor. I mean, you know, it's like trying to dip me, I'm like, I think I finally had to leave. But it was fabulous. I mean, it was one of my better memories. And I'm, you know, I feel actually like I have a lot of memories associated with Ben and dancing. One in particular, we had this school dance that is kind of infamous; everyone goes and no one has a good time. You know, and Ben shows up in the peach tuxedo. Like peach, you know, with the ruffled shirt and the whole thing is peach colored and maybe even his shoes, you know, and had, like, the best time I've ever seen anyone have at any school formal. You know, rocked out on the dance floor, had kind of a woman on each arm the whole night, you know, and they were just trying to dance kind of with him. But he had his whole own show going and it was really, so I have a lot of really good memories from that man. And I'm so appreciative for that. So thank you.
For those of you who don't know, I'm Brian Montgomery. I'm Ben's high school chemistry teacher, so if he burned it or blew it up or destroyed it it's probably my fault. But he took three years of high school chemistry from me; that's something that isn't done. First year he took as a sophomore and that's pretty normal if you're going to college. Second year, then, if you're just masochistic you decide to come back and take me again and do lab write ups and endure all that one more time. And then if you're just the craziest man you've ever known, as he's been described several times, you not only come back for the fourth year but you're the leader. And that's what Ben was. He, I don't think that, or third year, of chemistry would have happened except that Ben was, for some reason, wanting another year of this stuff. And he was. He was a leader. He was, you know, I mean, I've heard it several times, tonight. Ben and Peter -- it just rolls off your tongue like peanut butter and jam or something, you know, it, they just go together. And Ben was the leader. And I think the main thing that I want to say is that to honor his memory, you need to do the things you would have done if Ben was still leading. You need to take those risks; you need to journey to South America, endure earthquakes, whatever crazy thing would have happened, you need to do that and you need to honor Ben's memory that way. And let him lead you. He still, I think, would be a good way to honor him. So. Thank you.
I'm Doug Hoffman, Ben's 7th grade teacher, and so this must be teacher time up here. But Dave talked about them when they were sweet and Brian talks about them when they're smart and I got them in between. And I've got the grade book. Hannah's mom says, isn't there a statute of limitations on that grade book? But I've got to tell you, I just want to say two words, but two words can mean a lot.
Now the guys that are in my social studies class in 7th grade know that Mr. Hoffman cannot talk and say just two words. But I have a series of two words for you. Two words: 7th grade. Defines time. A lot of us can go back and, the thing about being a teacher is you do kind of freeze kids in time. I had the joy of watching all these guys grow up, but 7th grade; think back. Two words: crunchings and munchings. See, I got to say that at baccalaureate. Those guys were asking if I would do my Gergie for them. So Ben got to hear the Gergie more than once. Anyway, for those of you that don't, we did "The Book of Three" and Gergie said things like "For the seeking of a piggy, there are many lords in the forest. And crunchings and munching." So, two words: AM block; Project Reach. Two words: and I want to think, you know, as we've been listening to the different people talk tonight, think about all the relationships that Ben had. And as a teacher, you read down the grade book and you have a series of two words here but each one of these two words is so important. AM Block: Leah Ball, James Barnett, Carissa Barr, Brent Barton, Justin Beard, Kansas Calloway, Jeff Carmody, Charity Coulter, Ben Eder, Becky Gates, Matt Harner, Asia Hartman, Jennifer Hoffman, Les Jensen, Joe Johnson, Stephanie Kalez Sarah Kay, Matt Knutsen, Stephanie LaCrone, Aaron McKay, Jamie Menzies, Chris Peterson, April Phillips, Hannah Robbins, Bob Robertson, Abe Silvanen, Mindy Stoll, Rayland York. Now that's not everyone; you didn't hear Peter Jordan's name in there, he was in my reading class, and then I didn't read all of my 7th grade because I had a group of kids in the PM Block, but they all had me and I had all of them and we all had some great memories. So as you guys flash back and think about the relationships, some of those names that I just named weren't much to the kids; other ones, bam, they hit close to home. Some we've forgotten about and they've kind of gone off their own way, others we just stayed really tight with. But you folks know who special Ben is to all of us. Best friend. How that defines a relationship. We're hearing that kind of thing. Two words: lifelong best friend. Flip that one around; long life. A lot of us are asking questions long life, you say, you know, doesn't apply to Ben. But I disagree. Back in the day, in the 60's, they use to have cigarette commercials. And one of them went it's not how long you make it, it's how you make it long. And Ben made his life long. It was a short life but it was, he lived a long life. He put more into it. Words, two words: I graduated. I'm 21. Question authority. Let's go. World traveler. Two words: pop quiz. See how they can affect you? We learned a series of two words in 7th grade. I wonder how many of us still remember. Because, Caracus Venezuela; Bogata Columbia; Keto Equador; Lima Peru; LaPaz Bolivia; Ascension Paraguay; Santiago Chile; Buenos Aires Argentina; Montabodeo Uruguay; Brasilia Brazil; Kenyan French Guiana; Paramaribo Surinam; Georgetown Guyana. No, not again. Good job; good job. So all you guys are saying, now how come Ben went to South America? He couldn't get it out of his head. But the thing was that, you know, he went. He did it. I talked to the kids I use to do a signal for them, when I wanted their attention I would say, "Hey" and they would say "Ho". And then right around that year was the year that the word "ho" changed and I couldn't, 7th grade I just couldn't use that anymore, and so I started, and it was probably Brent and those guys, Derek, Ben. Anyway, I started using another one. I would say "Carpe" and the kids would say "Diem" and we would talk about seize the day. And that's Ben. Two words: seize the day, Carpe Diem. He did pack a lot into his life.
Just a couple more two words for you. We're heard the words my teacher. Well, people talk about my teacher and I'm glad to have shared that relationship with Ben. And I was his teacher but like a lot of people have said, he was my teacher as well and I learned how to learn life to its fullest through kids like Ben. He was my student - there's another one. My student. So, I'm just about done. But two words can mean a lot and I want you to think with me what all they do mean. And the two words are: Ben Eder. They mean a lot. And I read in a book once, and I just thought it was cool, that a young man died at an early age -- and I think it was in the Vietnam War in the book that I read -- and they found a note. It was a Stephen King book so the note was kind of in a weird place but it made, definitely made sense. But the word was "excused early." And that's two words: excused early. And that's the way I'm thinking about Ben. He's not really gone; he, we're just letting him go a little bit earlier than the rest of you guys. So we'll give Ben, you know how us teachers, we hate parties, right? Right Mr. O'D? Hate parties. But we also let them go too early, too. So it was hard for me to write this note, but I am excusing, if I have the right, for the teachers, to let him go. Ben's excused early. The rest of you are going to have to wait until the bell, then I want you to please stand, push in your chairs, put a smile on your face, and have a hap-hap-happy day.
I couldn't sing tonight, you can probably hear why, but I had to get up and say something because I guess Ben is one of my friends I've had all my life. Michele always wanted me to marry him but I never would agree. And I wanted to tell a story, also, I think from 7th grade. For my band I made, for April Fool's Day, I made a bunch of cupcakes but you fill, you take the cupcakes and you fill each tin halfway and then in the middle you put a cotton ball, and then you fill the rest of it up and then you bake them and they puff up, they're very big and puffy. And I had made a whole tray and I took it to band. And, of course, as soon as one kid bit in and found the cotton ball no one else wanted them so I had a bunch of leftover cupcakes and I was taking them down the hall to my locker. And I passed Ben in the hallway and Ben saw the cupcakes and he didn't even ask, he just reached with his arm and he grabbed one and he took a huge bite and he looked so betrayed. And that's what I remember about Ben. He was, he was a risk taker. He ate my cooking again.
I'm not a risk taker; I'm a cautious person and I admire that about him. He would say to me, "Hannah, I want to go to Mexico. Can I borrow your car?" And I said, "No." And Ben looked at me for a minute and he said, "You could come, too." And I didn't go. So maybe next time I will go and I'll think about Ben.
Hi, I'm Rick Price and I've known Ben from 1989. I started, that's when I started fishing with the Eders. And growing up, by watching Ben grow up I mean ever since he was a child, I mean, I remember him doing, come out to the gear shed doing a lot of work for us, drilling bait jars. He'd get a little money for it, I'm sure he still saved it for college because that was his goal in life, to have his college tuition paid. And I just, just watching him fish. I mean, he was the hardest worker. I hear stories about school but, I mean, he was a hard worker. Me and him worked on the NESIKA couple of times together and I'd just, I would try to outwork him and I couldn't. This is a story; I'm not a very good speaker but I wanted everybody to know that about fishing. I mean, he's a very hard man, he was a hard worker and very good people. The Eder Family, we love you guys. Thanks.
I just went out to my car during the intermission and I got this book out and it's called the Emergency Response Guidebook and it's a guidebook for first responders during the initial phase of a dangerous goods, hazardous material incident. And the reason I'm carrying this around is not because I'm a nurse but it's because Ben was really curious about all the things that were in these big tanker trucks that are driving around on our roads. And one time he told us it was terrible all the things that were there and we ought to know what they were. And he told me about, told us about this book. And so we got it. And now when we drive along on the roads we see tanker trucks and we see the symbols and the numbers and we look them up and we go wow, that is terrible. So.
I'm Gretchen Nelson and I knew Ben mostly before he went off to Reed and became this great adventurer that I am learning about tonight. However, I knew him through my children and I didn't spend a lot of time with him but enough time to really be charmed by him and develop a love that you have to, you, it just comes automatic for a kid like Ben. And I'm part of a group that meets every Friday night and we have pizza together, we've been doing this for about 15 years; there's about four couples and we've raised our kids together. And we come from all different parts of the country. So we had sort of made up, you know, we, as it evolved we, the group stayed together and our kids grew up and met other kids and some kids would come and see what pizza pals was like once in a while but people didn't get to come again, they weren't pizza pals unless you were, after, you were, had to be born into the pizza pals or you had to be married into the pizza pals or you had to be Ben Eder.
My name is Carrie and I knew Ben from school, which I know a lot of people here from school. That isn't really how I knew Ben. Ben and I grew up together and when I first met Ben it was mostly me and him just waiting for our daddies to come home off the boats. My father fished the NESIKA for the Eders for as long as I can remember, probably 10 years or so. And we spent all Thanksgivings together and a lot of winters calling each other. And it was like he was always there and it's something that's hard to remember 'cause when Ben grew up -- and I know funny stories, too, but -- but when Ben grew up he actually fished with my father so it wasn't just us meeting at the dock it was me meeting him at the dock. And he always had something goofy to say about my dad, and just recently he, we went on and on about jokes about how they both turned 50 and how now we could scream at them legally, because they must be going deaf. And so we used to laugh, we laughed a lot about that. And one story I should talk about, one of the girls talked about his driving and boy, I've seen Ben's driving. He was not a driver. There was a reason his parents didn't get him a car. We, actually one of the last times I saw him we were with my mom and we have like this Grand Cherokee and he's looking at it and he goes, "Whoa, Janet, that's a nice car." My mom said, "Yeah, it's too bad you don't have one, Ben." And we looked over and he had this, like, the Eders are known for this, they buy these cars and then they run them and run them and run them and run them and run them and run them and like Michele once said to my mom, she's not very good at the maintenance part. So they get very rough. And Ben had the Explorer, the second vehicle that they were doomed to run to the ground, and he told us right, and my mom said, "Well you have this nice vehicle," and he said, "But, you know, it doesn't go up hills. I don't go out of town with this one." And so we laughed a little and then my mom looked real close and said, "Ben, something happened to your car. I think somebody hit you." She was serious. There was, she goes, and he goes, "Nobody hit me, I don't see anything. What's going on here, Janet." And they were getting ready to go fishing; he's got all his gear and, you know, he's in a lively mood, he usually was to go on the boat, and my mom said, "No, I'm serious. There's like $2000 worth of damage in the front of that Explorer. There's a dent, do you see that dent?" And he says, "I don't, I don't see any dent." Pretty soon we realized that Ben had something to do with the dent and as we looked closer there was a few more in the rear of the vehicle. And Ben said, as we said, "Ben, did, maybe we should drop this subject. Did you have something to do with this?" And he says, well, and then he explains to us the logic of bumpers and how bumpers are meant to bump into things. And how vehicles just aren't made like they use to be. And how if it was real true old vehicle the bumper wouldn't have dented like that, like the Volvo he almost left in Mexico. And we laughed a lot about that.
And I had to tell one other small story about my brother and my brother, like my brother says, they fished a lot together, and he says fishing just won't be the same without Ben. Because he's never fished with such a hard worker. Like Rick said, he's like the hardest fisherman, you know, and my brother said he'd remember, like, it's the stormy and the road, ocean's just rocking you and the wind's blowing in your face and your hands are chapped and bleeding and -- I've been on the ocean but it's never been this bad, but -- my brother says it's just awful and my, Ben would go into the little cabin of the NESIKA and he'd turn on that radio and they'd get some Japanese radio station and he'd just turn it all the way up and he'd be just out there chopping that bait just rocking it down like it was nothing. My brother said as he stood there just shivering and my dad would give him a hard time: can't you fish like Ben, Justin? My brother would say, "I don't know Japanese."
Anyways, I had to say something because my father couldn't be here today and I knew he'd like to say something but he's on that second life force of Ben's, like he likes to say, the ocean and when I talked to him on the phone today I said, "Dad, I'm going and I'll say something for you." And he said, "I'm as close to Ben as I can be out here anyways." So that's my words.
...knew and loved. There was five of us that went, seemed like a consistent five of us that went to State, each one of those two years in 5th and 6th grade. Myself as an alternate, Ben as the head guy, Tony Pettis, Kelly Painter and Seth Bradshaw. Both, kind of interesting, Ben Eder, Kelly Painter and Tony Pettis were all firstborn sons of fishermen in this town. And from there I wasn't all that close to him. But I remember him being one of the people that made the Class of '98 as great as it was. Like, shoot, I think it was O'Donnell that said that Class of '98 was one of the greatest? I know I've said it numerous times; the Class of '98 was one of the greatest here in Newport. Yeah, and I've heard it said by others, too. And in order to make a certain graduating class great you need great people to contribute to that. And a couple of the things that I remember Ben doing to help out with that: like Hoffman was saying, two words: Mikhail Kalashnikov. If any of you remember sitting in class and if you were dressed up as a Soviet Proletariat, let's see here, he would come, he would walk from class to class handing out little red vines to you and then also to hold a Mikhaill Kalashnikov dance with, shoot, I forget what one of the movies was. I know we had two TV monitors going with "Hunt for Red October" and another one was, like "Peter the Great" and then we had this nice big old poster set up with Josef Stalin. And you could not stand in front of Josef Stalin when you had your pictures being taken; you had to stand off to his sides. And that was just, and he was definitely one of the sure backers behind that thing. Always carrying his Communist Manifesto around with him, mind you. And then also the Science Club. If any of you guys, it any of the Class of '98 remembers that, one of the most corrupt clubs in the history of Newport High School. We would have a fundraiser and then we would pocket the money from it and then when we had a revolution, we dissolved the club, pocketed what little money we had in the office and split so that Jim Brookheiser and his group of revolutionaries could come in and take over. And that was one, that's one thing, those are two things that will probably never happen again at Newport High is a Mikhail Kalashnikov Dance dedicated to that and also the Science Club being that. And also the I Hate Jesse Helms Club, I think, was he also a member of that? The only recognized hate club in Newport High. Brent, can you, if Brent's here can you correct me on that? Wasn't he in on that, too? Okay. So, and then "Like A Rolling Stone," our graduating song, our class song. Just completely atypical for any graduating class that I think, that I can think of. And I remember him going around and marketing that song, saying "Will you guys vote for this, will you guys vote for this." And I remember there being another one by the Beatles that I really wanted but that's what it turned out to be and it was, like, that's cool.
And those are the things that I remember most about him was how all that took place back then. And I think the last time I saw him was this last summer and I saw him over at Fred Meyers, just outside of Fred Meyers with Phoebe, and he told me something about him taking his recently-purchased Volkswagen Vanagon with the little diesel going down there, cruising about 35 miles an hour up any hill it can come to because it's so absolutely gutless driving down there with Dylan, true? And blowing a head gasket before he gets there. And I asked him, "So what are you going to do with that thing?" Go down there and fix it. I don't know whatever came of that but that was the last time I saw him. It was, like, yeah, this is, yeah, it's great. I'm, he'd have loved and he does love seeing all this here, I'm sure. I'm absolutely amazed at this group of people, his friends, family, so on and so forth, all the nice clichés to describe who all's here. And he must have been, and he is, was, whatever you want to say, a special person to fill the PAC here. However many seats there are, I don't know, but to fill this place with all of us here, just telling, hear stories about everything he's done in his life is just awesome.
Oh, that Jimmy Hendrix's song, "A...castles made of sand slip into the sea eventually."
Hello, everyone, my name's Laura Waarvick and I know Ben through Michele. I've known Michele since I was a little girl and before I even knew Ben and knew Michele. She drove up to my parents' office when I was about 4 and she had just purchased a new car and I remember I thought she was so cool because she let me stand on the seat of the passenger side and put my head up through the sunroof. And I remember asking her four times, are you sure, are you sure? And finally she said, "We don't have to if you don't want to." And I remember, I wasn't going to say anything because I really didn't know Ben very well, I was about two years ahead of him in school. What's interesting is that I've sat in the audience and I've listened to people sharing really detailed stories, but my story of Ben is more of a moment. And I don't know if any of you have ever studied Buddhism or meditation, but when in high school, especially my senior year, I was really into reading alternative books and I really was way too cool for Newport, I wanted nothing to do with Newport, and Newport High School was the root of all evil as far as I was concerned. And I really wasn't involved. I spent as least time as possible at high school, but I was in Honor Society and so was Ben. And I remember walking down the hall -- I don't know why I remember this but when I found out that Ben was one of the people that was lost at sea I immediately thought of this memory and I hadn't thought of it for a long time -- and I was walking down the hall, and, oh, gosh, I probably hadn't done my hair that day, I was probably in a hurry trying to get to class on time, and I just remember seeing Ben and I had met him in Honor Society, I knew he was Michele's stepson, but, and I just remember saying hi to him and he said hello back with this mellowness and gentleness, yet energy and aliveness and I remember thinking oh my gosh there's an actual person behind that face, if that even makes sense. In high school I just, there were so many people that, I think we were guarded so much of the time, and he was so open and I was really impressed by that. And that was just a small moment and it just reminded me of Buddhism and meditation. That was, you know, I graduated five years ago this coming June and I've always remembered that moment and, you know, I really wish I would have had a chance to know him better. And I wasn't going to say anything except when Hannah got up here and said that Michele was always saying that Ben should marry her, I thought wait a minute, my mom got a card from Michele saying she wanted Ben to marry me, so what's going on here? I was going marry Ben, what happened? So thank you for listening and best of all, good night.
My name's Frances Reed and I know Ben, gosh, Ben was a, Ben Eder was a household word in my family. He and my sister Hannah went way back. And I just remember a time, well, you heard Gretchen talk about the pizza pals and all the pizza pals plus some extras get together and go camping every year. And I remember Ben came with us a couple times. And I remember we're sitting, a couple of my friends and I are sitting in a tent playing a card game that, just, Ben just loved this card game, and he was out in the field playing Frisbee. And so we called out of the tent to him, we said, "Ben, do you want to come play cards with us." And the look of agony on his face, as he looked Frisbee - cards - Frisbee - cards, what do I pick? So he ran over to the tent and he sat down and he must have played the quickest game of cards I have ever played and Ben beat us soundly and thoroughly and then ran back to his Frisbee game. But I remember he was so humble about it. He wasn't, like, lording over us that he could beat us so quickly. And I remember he just gave me a hug after it was over and it was just like he was so, he was so down to earth and not even above anybody else. And I respected that so much in him and I looked up to him so much and I miss him a lot. And I loved him. Thank you.
Hi, I'm Gary Painter. And they say that good comes from bad, but I'm here to tell you I think that the statement is overrated. But what we have is what we have and so we're here to celebrate Ben's life. And to me it's kind of a family thing. Bin Laden hasn't figured it out yet, but really we're all part of one big family and I don't care whether you're atheist, Jew, Christian, Islamic or whatever. I'm getting so damn old now that about half of the boys or men in the audience have played on one of my sports teams or they worked on one of my boats. Even Brent Barton. Although I'm not sure that I'm really proud to say that, but, I guess it's all right. I know his dad, but, I shouldn't have said that, either. This, what happened here 10 days ago really affected everyone I know. My sister, well, through some estate planning my sister was given an interest in the boat, the main boat that I own. And she called up, oh, four or five days ago and said, well, how are you doing? I said okay. And she says, you know, I've been, I've been thinking about that. She said, really, it's just amazing. It's beyond description and she says I've been thinking a lot about you. See, she lives in Lake Oswego. She'd never been on the damn boat in her life. And Dylan and Bob and Michele, I don't pretend to know or to be able to understand the depth of your sorrow and anger and anxiety but I know that I live in Newport, I'm a parent, I'm a father, I got a boat, I got a kid that works on a boat, and it comes pretty close to home. And then, some of you know that Steve Langlot, he had worked for us on the NEW VENTURE for three or four years. So again I think that it's a tribute to Ben, it's a tribute to relationships, it's a tribute to families who have all of these people are here to see, to help, to hug, and help people get through. And I look at some of these things as sharing. You guys shared your family, Ben and Dylan, with me and my family and those I know. Between Ben and Dylan we played basketball and baseball, we went skiing together, we went hunting together. And although I can hardly play checkers, my kids played chess and you did that, too. And as Uncle Alan said something to the effect that when you're going through hell keep going, who knows, you might get to the other side.
You know, life is fragile. And although we've been richer for the experience of this, these relationships, these family-sharings and these individual relationships, life is pretty doggone fragile. And I guess what I would say if, you know, like I said, it's overrated. And I don't know how you can say much good came from this. But if there's anything that can come from this, if you got somebody who's dear to you, you tell them you love them. Because you don't know what's going to happen tonight or tomorrow or the next day. And relationships are about experience and they're about our memories and I've got those memories of our families, about Ben, the things we did. They went to, I think, wasn't it Maine, isn't that where you guys went back to is Maine, and came back skiing? Well, my kids had a couple years' head start on them and you could see that in the way Ben skied, but he went just as fast as my kids did. He, sometimes the face plants were a little deeper, little harder, but he went for the gusto. We're going to miss him.
Hi, everybody. My name's Zach Richardson and I grew up with Peter and Joey and Ben and Damien and all those guys. I remember this one time we were sitting over at the Eders' house and they had this pool table in their garage. We'd always end up over there -- nothing else to do in town -- and sitting there shooting balls around, going, asking the age old question of every kid growing up in Newport, what the heck are we going to do tonight, never coming up with a definitive answer. But regardless, the one thing that we always ended up doing was doing a bonfire on the beach. And so we rallied the troops, made some calls, got a bunch of people going to meet us over there and everything, piled into the Volvo and god it stank. It really, really stank in there. Can't remember what he said that was put in there but it was really, really bad. So piled in there, holding our breath, open the windows, all that good stuff, and ran over to Lumbermen's, took some of the pallets off the back there, as everybody usually does, they're not going to use them any more so we figure we might as well, and drove down to Agate Beach Wayside. And everybody piles out, grabs these pallets and truck on down to the beach and start a little fire and sitting there, going, waiting for all these other people to show up that we called. And, you know, we got a couple more people show up. So we decide, no, this isn't what we really want to do so we all truck back to the cars to find that we only had two cars with us. We had Ben's Volvo and this other person that come along had their car. And Ben, in one of his many spontaneous moments, decides that he should go with the other person in their car and jumps into their car and they take off leaving all of us left behind with no ride home. So we're sitting here wondering, well, are they going to come back, 'cause they sped off pretty quickly and we weren't quite sure. So we start looking down the road to where they took off, looked the other way, looked back at the Volvo just sitting there and decided that we should probably figure out a way to get into that car. So there's, like, six of us, seven of us, sitting here, wondering how we're going to get into this car and we're trying to roll down the windows and stuff 'cause the doors are all locked and we're trying to pry open the doors and trying to pick the locks and all that fun stuff. And finally, for some reason there was a magnetic key holder under the front left fender well that there was a spare key to the car and so we decided to steal the car. And took off, running around town, trying to find out where Ben and this person had taken off in this car and we can't find them anywhere. I think we'd passed them once or twice on Highway 101 cruising the opposite direction. And so after a while -- this is about 1:00 in the morning, 1:30 in the morning or so, we decide enough's enough and we went and parked the car behind Fred Meyers and left it. Ran over to Joey Novella's house I believe and proceeded to give Ben hints and whatnot as to location of his car. I think he recovered it the next day sometime, but I just remember his spontaneous moments and the fun we use to have doing all those things together. So.
I didn't get to see him much in the end, and I really feel bad for that. But I know that talking with everybody here, and hearing all the stories that everybody's had to say, has really helped a lot and that it's changed my life for the better. Thanks.
Hi everybody. I guess I just wanted to say a few words because I met Ben as a freshman at Reed, Ben and Peter. And my life has changed dramatically because of it. I can't really, I can't put that into words very easily but I think most people know what I'm talking about.
I came up here intending on telling you a funny story about some time we got the crazy idea to build a beer cow, which was a big cow made out of a Costco shopping cart. And the idea was we fit a keg of beer in the middle of it and we put udders on the bottom that you could milk the beer out of. This was for a big party we have once a year at Reed. And so I have this great image that I keep thinking of, which is this big extended party we have at Reed. We have a good time. We built this cow and we painted it, spots and, like, I was pretty proud of it. I think everyone kind of in our freshman dorm helped out and it was kind of, I mean, like, it meant a lot to me; it was my beer cow. It's a big deal. And towards the end of the night, we're actually, we're sitting hanging out in a yurt that Peter had built that year. That's probably why I like these guys so much, because I kind of tag along and they just bring me in all sorts of amazing adventures that I would never have found on my own. So we're in this yurt; I think, yeah, everyone's dressed as cavemen because that seemed to be the theme of the year, was Peter had big gigantic horns which are still on our mantle, actually. And out of the side of my vision I catch, you know, flames; there's like bright flames. I get all excited because I look out on the front lawn and there's a big bonfire and, that's a bonfire, I'm thrilled, I'm thrilled. So I run out there and everyone's kind of like dancing around this bonfire and we see Ben dancing around there, too, in his caveman outfit, this big Ben grin on his face, just like, just thrilled. And then I look in the fire and I realize that it's the beer cow. And Ben, yeah, I, people had talked about Ben enjoying bonfires and I guess he got the brilliant idea to burn the beer cow. And at the time I was mad at him for it, but in retrospect I needed more bonfires and I had a pretty good time. Yeah, I think everybody probably knows where I'm coming from. I'm just really lucky that I was able to know him for the time that I did. And he's definitely changed me forever in a completely positive way. So, I'll thank him for that probably forever.
For those of you who know me, I normally don't have a loss for words. I was able to meet Ben three and a half years ago. My sister had graduated and met him that summer. My family loved him a lot. My sister loved him a lot. And the few times that I was able to meet him throughout the holidays and the summers that my sister and him spent together, I just was very happy that my sister had fallen in love with such a wonderful young man. And a very handsome young man. And he will be very missed. This from my family, we loved him very much, to his family. Really.
I think this is the point where we draw the evening to a close. I want to share one last thing here since I got the privilege of getting to come up here twice, although I could have come up here a million times there's so much to say and so many wonderful things. A young man who's given us so much, so much perspective and so much love and so much energy. My sister sent this to me when she heard that, I didn't tell anything much about my relationship with Ben. He was in my mountain bike club and in my honor society and he was just a rock; just somebody we could really count on, showed me a lot. Anyway, when my sister heard of loss of one of my boys she sent this Native American prayer.
As I give you this one thought to keep
I'm with you still
I do not sleep.
I'm a thousand winds that blow
I'm the diamond glints on snow.
I'm the sunlight on life and grain
I'm the gentle Autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I'm the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds and circle flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not think of me as gone
I am with you still
In each new dawn.