Nancy and Bill Hough, at Marcie and Hank Delacato's wedding, May 13, 1989
-----It is finally ended. The interminable vigil is over - in what appeared to be, and what we prayerfully hope was a peaceful moving-on to the next world where, we are told, and we believe, we will find new adventures awaiting us, and "our reward in Heaven".
-----Right about now, I expect that Nancy (our sister) is conferring with the Powers Above and is instructing them, in no uncertain terms, that this family's "dues are paid" and that her husband, Bill, is due more than a "just reward" for his loving care, and his tireless ministrations.
-----Nancy always loved a party - she loved to go to them, she loved to give them. In a sense - having us all gathered here today to celebrate her life is her last party. But that is probably not actually the case, since our mother's strong convictions about the after-life leads me to expect that Nancy's spirit will be present whenever our family and friends join in future celebrations.
-----It is probably safe to say that all of us here today knew Nancy, and some of us quite well. The stories and expressions of love and affection will probably have been heard - but, by being retold and re-shared, will reinforce our recollections.
-----One of the perks of being the eldest is the expectation that your younger siblings will be around in your declining years to look after things, and cover for you:
- Remember who is whom, birthdays, maiden aunts, where old "what's his name" is buried, his widow's birthday and phone numbers.
- Keep the family photos and heirlooms, and remember the name of the old Quaker sour-puss in the daguerreotype on the hall table.
- Our dear sister was very good at family stuff, including, as it turns out, the keeping, along with Bill, of a binder of family writings.
-----I have always been quite envious of the talents of my siblings:
Barry - a master of comic song and dance, author of lyrics and jingles
Ted - an artist, sculptor, musician, philosopher, author of lyrics and jingles
Nancy - a homemaker, hostess, singer, keeper of the family secrets, author of jingles and, as I belatedly have found, some beautiful poetry.
-----In anticipation of this inevitability, some time ago I borrowed from Bill that binder of family writings, and found, to my great pleasure, that Nancy was, in addition to being a writer of great jingles and limericks, an author of remarkable creativity and talent. She of the nightingale voice, the beatific smile, and the rapier wit, was also, it seems, something of writer and a poet. We should have gotten her to write obits for each of us in the family as well as for herself, years ago (before the brilliance of her lamp was dimmed). They would have been delightful, acerbic, insightful, wry, gently, or possibly not so gently, penetratingly witty.
-----Writing of her family background and herself, in 1959, at age 31, in "I Pause and Reflect" she says:
"What about the me that those more close might picture? My family and friends would know the tone of my voice, the way I laugh, the feel of my hand. They might remember that I like beef and chocolate, seafood and ice cream, turquoise and yellow, that I like to sing and drive and travel, to read and cook and that I like sophisticated comedy. They might recall that I dislike cleaning, most shades of green, liver, slapstick comedy and camping out; that I can take or leave Italian food, TV and ironing."
-----And: "My maternal grandparents bred a family of strong, moral, ambitious women, dedicated to duty, family and country, women of great capability, artistic and intelligent."
-----Then of herself: "I unfortunately, have not inherited any talents from either branch of my tree. I consider myself only slightly above average and in no way outstanding."
-----And finally: "But now I am getting beneath the surface of the 'me' that no one knows. The 'me' that thinks and struggles and suffers. The 'me' that, had I ever been analyzed, would be interpreted in terms of id and ego, pressure and tension, fears and insecurities. The 'me' that resists conformity and yet never dares to be too different. The analyst might go beneath the surface sarcasm, the caustic humor and find the emotional core as soft as sand and shaped by passing pressures as the beach is shaped by tide."
-----And, from "Life Seasons", a poem written by Nancy in 1975 at age 47:
"The breeze is from the South, my Heart
Magnolias scent the air
The Spring of life is sunny
The days of life are fair."
-----And from "Wonder", a love poem written in 1984 at age 56:
"How come that out of all the time and space
of myriad stars and endless years of days,
I know and love the angles of your face
Your generous warmth and readiness to praise.
What miracle has placed us side by side
In time - and in this span of space."
-----And finally - what she wrote of our beloved Aunt Carrie upon her passing -
"When you are gone I will not weep for you,
Who shed no public tears your whole life through.
When you depart and leave the world behind,
I'll let but joyous memories fill my mind.
Remembering the gentle bright content
In which your hours and days were always spent
I'll see you as you were - alive, awake!
To every change that nature's seasons make
My heart will cry but one sweet word - "Farewell"
And know your soul has heard."
Thank you god, for releasing my Mother's indomitable spirit from her ravaged body. She was smart and strong and kind and funny and brave and very beautiful, and she lives on in our hearts forever.
I find it very appropriate that my mom chose Valentine's Day to end the long battle she and my Dad have been fighting for 8 years. I would like to read you a poem that she wrote to Bill Hough on Valentine's Day, 1984.
The patterns of my days are not like yours.
My laughter rises on a different note.
And certain things that fill my eyes with tears
Don't even cause a lump within your throat.
The sun, from which you turn, is life to me -
The ice and snow you love, my enemy.
Why then do all my thoughts return to you?
No other men seem worthy of my glance -
How can it be that our two hearts are one?
And you the one with whom I share Romance?
How come that out of all the time & space
of myriad stars and endless years of days,
I know and love the angles of your face -
your generous warmth and readiness to praise.
What miracle has placed us side by side
in time - and in this span of space,
and left us free so there's no need to hide
our love, our kiss or our embrace?
For when you take my hand, and hold me close
There's no where else I ever want to be
I try to give the best of me to you -
I know you give the best of you to me!!
How can we use this best that nature gives
To women and to men upon this Earth,
And so insure that all the wonder lives -
While giving one another our true worth!!
Thank you Bill Hough, for letting my mom live out her days in the warmth of her home, with the comfort of her friends, but most of all with your constant, undying love. She is forever in my heart and you, my good man, are forever my hero!!!
Lawrie Kupper Haasis Ode To Mom:
-----I would like to Thank you all for coming today. I can assure you that my mother's spirit is with us. Her zest for life was powerful and endless.
-----My mother's love of family and friends was immeasurable. I never quite met anyone who touched so many with such wit and charm. We have also been blessed to have her melodic voice sing over the years along with my father. As accomplished singers their songs will ring in my heart forever. And let us not forget the wonderful social gatherings which I will use as a measuring stick to all others. My mother worked so very hard to prepare for those joyous occasions. She did it all with tremendous style and grace, which brings to mind her incredible talents for the writing of poetry. Need I say more.
-----I would like to finish with two comments:
-----Dad, you were not only a loyal husband but Mom's rock and mine as well. To do what you did for Mom when she took ill is nothing short of heroic. I want you to know Dad, that because of you Mom died with dignity and in peace.
-----For the last week or so of my mother's life I had been staying day and night at my folks house. On my mother's last day, which ironically was Valentine's Day, I had purchased a dozen pink roses. They had not yet bloomed. I had put them on the sideboard for Mom and all to see. I removed one and held it up to Mom so she could smell the sweet aroma. As I checked on her throughout the day, I noticed that the roses were still not in bloom. At the end of that day, not long after Mom had passed, I glanced over at the sideboard to notice that the roses were in full bloom.
-----In the past few years I've tried to hold onto some of the special ways Nancy revealed herself to us ..... her love of color and love of music, especially her beautiful singing ..... of opera, ballads, show tunes, alone and in duets with Bill. The great joy she derived from entertaining and having friends and family around her. Her very deep bond with Bill. Her great pride and love for her children and grandchildren. Her love for her brothers and concern for the well-being of all family members. The loving care she gave her mother in her declining years. Everything she did was done with caring and great artistic flair.
-----When I first came to know the Knerr family I was a beginning art student. Nancy often caught my interest by describing specific colors with words I didn't then know .... like puce (brownish purple) and mauve (any shade of delicate purple). She loved the near-purplish pink hues. These colors fed her soul .... be it in flowers, like the spring lilacs, azaleas and her beloved Rubrum Lilies ..... oriental rugs, clothing, or even a summer sunset. She inherited Aunt Carrie's love of amethysts ... jewelry once more in the purple-violet hues.
-----I learned many housekeeping tips from observing Nancy. A sample .... when you first open something, like plastic wrap or crackers, for example, you put it on your shopping list so when you use it up you have a replacement on hand. Efficiency and organization skills may have come from Pop - although her Mother was no slouch in that department. Gammy, Jeannie and Ann were also an influence on these practical matters.
-----I found Nancy to be great fun, extremely supportive and generous. I worry that in our busy ways we may have neglected to let her know how much we loved and appreciated her. She will continue to be very much with us.
-----What I remember most about Aunt Nancy was her generosity of spirit, by which I mean her warmth and inclusiveness, and wish to be helpful and at the center of things. She loved a party, savored luxuries with great pleasure, and surrounded herself with beauty. I was deeply appreciative of her eagerness and energy in helping me organize my wedding; her help, including the beautiful flowers she arranged, was wonderful.
Julia Knerr Remarks presented by Karen Hough Mersky at the Service
-----As many of you know, my father, Charles Hough, had his hip replaced several weeks ago and is unable to leave the house. But he has asked me to share his words.
-----Many here today will remember Nancy for her numerous talents - her wit and
clever writings, her puns, her singing, her charm and her hospitality. But I
want to share her particular place in the life and history of all of us present. It shows how a little turn of events by one individual can affect so many lives.
-----It all started in 1954. That was the year my brother Bill and I along with 3 other architects and our wives set out in our youthful naive fashion to acquire 20 acres from the Houston Estate and build our starter homes. The court had set a deadline for us to raise the purchase price and at the 11th hour we were still short and the project seemed doomed. Nancy, in the nick of time, came up with an investor and the rest is history. Her parents made their home on Gowen Avenue a place for us to have our planning sessions and I remember that it was at one of these sessions that the names of our streets, Dogwood Lane and Brook Lane, were selected (the names suggested by her savior investor of course).
-----If it hadn't been for Nancy, the wonderful planned gathering of our homes and families would not have been realized. It is an example of how one small effort can affect the lives of so many. Without her effort this memorial service would probably be somewhere else and the connections that bring us all here would not have taken place.
-----So, I give thanks for having had Nancy with us for all these years and for all the friends and families her small effort has brought to me and my family. We love you Nancy and we thank you for bringing us all here today.
My name is Sydney Fisher, but it might just as well be Sydney Fisher Knerr.
Barry and I became friends through the Mask & Wig (theatrical organization) at the University of Pennsylvania. Over the years our friendship grew. At Barry's parties with family and friends, I had the wonderful experience of accompanying (at the piano) Nancy and Bill in their beautiful singing. Over the 50 odd years I have known Barry, I grew to know and love his family, and in effect became a part of it.
To email thoughts for addition to this site: tk@art-spirit dot net
Note: the address is modified to avoid searches by robot spammers.
Please copy it to your email To: box, changing "dot" to a period. Thanks.
to visit ted knerr's website click:.art-spirit home page.
other philosophy pages -
1 ..... site philosophy
2 ..... artist's statement
3 ..... politics
4...... the holocaust and columbine
6...... animal allies - free game
8.......nancy - a memorial for my sister
9...... sam averiett - a homeless man in new york city
10.... memorial for my father
11.... memorial for my mother