Eulogy for my Mother, Eloise Fischer Bohnett, 1923 – 2012
January 15, 2012, Chicago, IL
© David Bohnett, January, 2012. Not to be reproduced without permission
Thank you to all the dear friends and family who have come together to celebrate the remarkable life of our Mother, Eloise Bohnett. A particular thanks and recognition to those who have traveled from afar to be here in support of me and my brother and sister. And to Tom Gregory, your video tribute for our Mother is a wonderful gift to us all.
We appreciate as well the outpouring of sympathy as expressed through heartfelt, thoughtful, and often wry sentiments. Wendy and I pulled together a few of these tributes that I'll share now and also at the end of my brief remarks.
From a friend in Sarasota;
Ellie was a peach, a real original who radiated cheerfulness at all times.
From Cathy Chandler … a childhood friend of Wendy's … I remember your Mother as a Girl Scout and Brownie leader. She was very kind and compassionate but did not allow chaos to erupt, which is a sign of good leadership. She also managed to make sure that some of the girls who were shyer were not left out of troop activities. Her spirit will be missed.
And from her oldest friend, Maxine Pusinelli, who moved across the street on Seely Ave. in Beverly when they were 9 years old wrote:
I miss talking to Eloise on her birthdays and holidays, and smile when I remember when the Seely Avenue block played ball against the other streets. I remember we put on plays in our basement playroom and in our garage. Your Mother was Cinderella in one and Shirley Temple in the other.
From California, a tribute by all members of the Los Angeles City Council, that included these remarks;
Ellie hailed from a hard charging family and was married to and raised a family of hard chargers. She was the easy, gracious light and spirit of the family.
The Los Angeles City Council extends its deepest sympathy to the Bohnett family over the passing of your loved one Eloise, in whose memory all elected members stood in tribute and reverence as the Council adjourned its meeting of November 29, 2011.
And from Mother's cousin, Linda Rogers Martin, who recently lost her own Mother, Eleanor Rogers;
The two "Ellies" certainly came from the same tree … some of their mannerisms were identical … like when they held up both hands and shook them when they were agitated. I will always remember your mom for her cheerfulness and easy laugh. It seemed she was always calling out to Harry with his nickname "Har"! She was so extremely proud of her children and grandchildren and would show me everyone's picture when I visited at the condo. My sincere sympathies to all of you.
We so appreciate these sentiments as they truly help lessen the pain and remind us of our happy times together as a family.
As the youngest member of our family, it was my great good luck and fortune to grow up with an older brother and sister that Iadored and have learned to look up to and admire my entire life. By the time I came on the scene, our family was pretty far along, with Bill as an 8 year old and Wendy, a 6 year old sister nipping at his heels.
Our parents had created a nurturing environment for their growing family, with an emphasis on education, community involvement, and service to others. With unabated love from grandparents on both sides of the family, the three of us grew up in the 1950's, 60's and into the 70's in Hinsdale, Illinois, where a strong public education system and family inspired work ethic helped create a solid foundation for our future lives.
Along with a great sense of pride and admiration for my older brother and sister, there is inevitably a bit of sibling envy that enters into the mix, the biggest being that Wendy and Bill were so fortunate to have parents for 6 and 8 years longer than I did. Knowing that none of us squandered our opportunity to show appreciation to our Mother and Dad for all they had done for us somewhat lessens the disappointment.
Bill and Wendy have each achieved inspiring personal and professional success, the most significant being the raising of their remarkable families. Patrick Campbell, and Elizabeth, Thomas, and Mary Clare Bohnett all demonstrate a commitment to others and a passion for their chosen career as values passed down from their parents, Wendy Campbell, Pat Campbell, and Bill and Clare Bohnett, and their grandparents, Eloise and Harry.
For my part, I've learned that when one feels truly and deeply loved, one has great capacity, confidence and responsibility to make their unique way in the world and to live a life in service to those less fortunate.
The greatest tribute we can pay my Mother is to live as she had hoped we would; with great love and devotion to our family and our community, with a passion for our work and hobbies, and with joy, laughter, and recognition that it's not the material things that are important, it's our love for one another.
In closing, two final tributes, the first from a colleague at amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Reseach;
Dear David, I am so sorry to learn of your family's loss. After reading your mother's obituary, I am sorry I never had the opportunity to meet her, as anyone who enjoys drinking wine and playing cards is "aces" in my book.
And the second, a simple poem from Deborah Borda's Mother, Helene Ellis;
"If roses grow in Heaven, Lord please pick a bunch for me. Place them in my Mother's arms, and tell her they're from me."
Dear Mother, may you rest in peace.