On December 28, 2019, I shared the eulogy below at my Dad's Memorial Service. We celebrated his life well and then laid him to rest at Olinger Chapel Hill. Their team was terrific to work with throughout this period of grief. You can view the nice obituary and memory sharing page they put together for my Dad, including a tribute video to him with 200 photos from his life at this link. For the eulogy, I decided to share my Dad's top 10 traits along with a related memory for each trait. Note that I have abbreviated the eulogy in this written format. I spoke from the heart when giving the actual eulogy, which is not fully captured below. Dad, I hope this eulogy honored you and celebrated your life well. We love you. We miss you. Rest in peace.
Good afternoon. Thank you all for being here today. It means so much to Justin and me to have you all here to celebrate our Dad's life. Thank you to my cousin Jessica for being such a great caregiver for my Dad and Mom these past few years. Thank you to Anna for playing the piano today. Thank you to my beautiful wife and daughters for all of their support of me as I've spent many hours with my Dad and Mom over the past few years. Thank you to Chris for being our celebrant today.
Today is a day of grief and mourning. My Dad was taken from us far too young at the age of 73 because of Parkinson's disease. It is a disease that my Dad valiantly battled over the past 8 years. What makes today especially sad is that my Mom passed away only 2 months prior to my Dad this year. Many of you were sitting in this same chapel celebrating my Mom's life. My Mom was the faithful primary caregiver to my Dad until she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease 2 years ago. I will say that both of my parents navigated these brutal diseases with grace and strength. They lived life as fully as they could until their last days.
Most of you here today know that my parents were born in the same small hometown of Hopewell, Virginia. They lived about half of their lives in Virginia and half of their lives in Colorado, raising Justin and me. I want to share with you all that we will be doing a joint Memorial Service for both of my parents in Hopewell on March 21, 2020, at 2:00 PM at St. John's Episcopal Church. This is a beautiful old red brick church founded in 1840 that my Dad attended growing up. This joint Memorial Service will be an opportunity to celebrate both of my parents lives with their many family and friends in Virginia.
Two months ago I shared my Mom's eulogy and here I am today sharing my Dad's eulogy. I wrote my Mom's eulogy by sharing the top 10 traits of my Mom and a related memory. I'm going to follow that same format today. And yes, my Dad was a big David Letterman fan, so I think he'll be okay with me borrowing Dave's top 10 list idea for his eulogy. :)
So, here we go. Here are the top 10 traits of my Dad, Michael Douglas Pritchard:
1. Loving: My Dad loved his family and friends deeply and well. This can best be seen in his marriage to my Mom for 51 years. They were high school sweethearts that met when my Dad was 16 years old and my Mom was 14 years old in their hometown of Hopewell, Virginia. My parents married in 1968 and then moved to Colorado in the early 1970s to be close to my Mom's sister, Phyllis, and her husband, Barry. My brother and I were both born and raised in the Congress Park neighborhood of Denver. My Dad loved my wife, Marcia, and our daughters so very much, often babysitting for us so he could spend time with his granddaughters. Memory: You also saw so many great photos before the service of my Mom and Dad together. They were always together. I will always carry the memory of how much my Dad cared for my Mom in their final years in their retirement communities. When my Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, the care giving roles were reversed. My Dad became a caregiver for my Mom. He talked to her all of the time, even when she couldn't really reply back due to Alzheimer's. After my Mom passed away on September 22, my Dad entered a season of deep grief, losing his best friend of 57 years. (married 51 years) The caregivers at my Dad's retirement home said that he clearly had a broken heart and was ready to go be with my Mom. They are back together now.
2. Provider: My Dad was an incredible provider for my Mom, brother Justin and me. He had a very successful career in investor relations at Public Service Company of Colorado, New Century Energies and Xcel Energy. My Dad was frugal and loved to save money rather than spend it! A bit of a rarity these days. :) Memory: My parents wisely bought a house in the Congress Park neighborhood on 9th and St. Paul. It was a small house. I actually just went on Zillow this week and learned it was 1,200 square feet. I remember once asking my Dad, "hey, why can't we have a bigger house like my friends?" I remember my Dad wisely replying to me, "Well, do you want us to help you pay for college? Do you want to go on family vacations? I presume so. We won't be moving to a bigger house." :)
3. Friendly: My Dad was a true Southern Gentleman. He was incredibly polite to everyone he ever met and he could make small talk with the best of them. Memory: My Dad's friendly nature really came out in his later years the retirement communities he lived in. While his body was failing him, his mind was sharp. Every single nurse and care provider that worked with my Dad said he was so incredibly friendly. Which, if you've spent much time in retirement communities, you will know that not everybody is friendly when they are in their later years.... My Dad's caregivers just loved him because of how friendly he was and his great sense of humor, which leads me into his next trait.
4. Funny: My Dad had a terrific sense of humor! Truly. It was a dry and wry sense of humor, but it always put the other person at ease. He'd lightly make fun of himself or a situation to keep the mood light. Memory: My Dad's nurses and caregivers constantly told me and Jessica how funny my Dad was, and we saw it in action. My Dad would make jokes when getting bathed or clothes by his caregivers. He'd often crack smiles. He just knew how to make another person feel good when around him, which was a wonderful gift. I hope when I am old I am funny and friendly like my Dad was!
5. Athletic: My Dad stayed active and fit throughout his life, even working out in his last days with Parkinson's. He was a marathon runner, who completed both the Denver and New York City marathons. He also loved shooting hoops. My Dad had this unique goal of making sure he made at least as many free throws in a row as he was in age. So, this meant at the age of 30 he had to make 30 free throws in a row. He would often stay on the basketball court for an hour or so until he made the right number of free throws in a row. I am pretty sure he was able to carry this tradition forward until about the age of 65 when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's. Memory: One of my favorite childhood memories was my brother and I going to the downtown Denver YMCA with my Dad on Saturday mornings and playing basketball with him. I think this is in large part while I have the great habit of working out regularly - thank you Dad. I actually still go to the downtown Denver YMCA and remember those Saturdays with my Dad when I'm there. Another fun related memory, after we worked out at the Y, my Dad would take my brother and me to the Delectable Egg on 16th and Court for breakfast, which we loved. I still go to the Delectable Egg these days, in large part to remember times there with my Dad.
6. Music Lover: My Dad loved listening to music! Pretty much anything from the 1960s. Motown music, Elvis, the Beatles, the Beach boys, you name it. Music lit him up. I'd say I have that same characteristic of loving music, as my family knows. Memories: I have a couple memories here. I distinctly remember as a child putting my Dad's records on the record player in our house on 9th and St. Paul and just listening to music for hours while lying on the couch. One of my favorite records I recall listening to as a child was the rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, over and over again. I loved the music, the lyrics and have no doubt I was intrigued by who was this superstar named Jesus they were all singing about. The other memory to share is that in my Dad's last days at his retirement I found the oldies music channel on cable TV and softly played oldies around the clock for him. I know he loved music so much, that I figured the oldies music would be soothing to him in his final days and hours. I have shared with my wife, Marcia, to please do the same for me in my final days and hours. Just play me a mix of Chris Tomlin songs and I'll be good to go.
7. TV Lover: Do you remember NBC's Thursday night's Must See TV in the 80s? My Dad loved Thursday night TV! And my Mom, brother and I often watched it all with him. This included the shows Cheers, Seinfeld, Family Ties and Night Court. Classics. Memory: I remember that Thursday nights meant my Dad would always have pizza and wine when watching the Must See TV line up.
8. Sports Lover: My Dad loved to watch sporting events, mostly on TV, but sometimes in person. He in particular loved watching the Broncos, the Nuggets and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) College Basketball. He loved talking about sports too, particularly in his later years. Memory: One of my favorite memories of my Dad was when he was a volunteer usher for University of Colorado Buffaloes football games on Saturdays in Boulder in the late 70s and early 80s. He did this volunteering with my Uncle Barry, who is here with us today. They wore CU colored blazers and ushered in the east stands during the 1st half of the game. During the second half of the game they'd then be able to sit and watch the game. I think this might be in part why my brother and I both attended and graduated from CU Boulder. Thank you, Dad, and of course: Go Buffs! :)
9. Traveler: My Dad and Mom loved to travel. My Dad's job in Investor Relations at Xcel Energy gave him the opportunity to travel throughout the United States and he would often bring along my Mom or my brother or me, when he could. Also, one of his favorite travel destinations since his childhood was Nags Head beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. He would go there as a child and continued going there late into life. If I recall it was generally the last week or two of August that my Dad and much of his family would pack up the car in Virginia and drive down to North Carolina. Memories: Justin and I of course went to Nags Head many times with my parents growing up. I have such great memories of playing on the sand dunes there, close to where the Wright Brothers took their first airplane flight! My other fun travel memory with my Dad is when he took me to San Fransisco as a teenager on one of his business trips and toured us around Fisherman's Wharf. It was such a great trip. I remember staying in some fancy hotel room for the first time and just looking out the window marveling at the big city sights and sounds, including the trolley cars.
10. Left a Legacy: Okay, so I might be biased, but I think my Dad left a great legacy in my brother, Justin, and me. :) He and my Mom were great parents that provided so well for us. Thank you, Dad and Mom. Memories: My Dad leaves with us all an incredible legacy of memories, many of which we saw on the slide show pictures earlier. Thank you so much for all of the memories of my Dad you all have shared on the obituary website, via emails, via sympathy cards and by being here today. It is so great to read about all of wonderful memories of my Dad. He leaves behind such an incredible legacy.
In closing, I do believe that my Dad and my Mom are in heaven now. I believe in God. I believe in life after death. I believe my parents are watching us right now. I think if there was something my parents might want to say to us as we remember and celebrate their lives, it might be these three short but powerful words: God is good. All the time. Even in the midst of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. Even in the midst of the our grief over the loss of my parents. God is good.
Thank you all again for being here today. Again, thank you to Chris Anderson for being our celebrant for both of my parents memorial services. (Learn more about his celebrant services at this link.)
You can read my Mom's Eulogy at this link: My Mom's Eulogy: Top 10 traits of Joyce Pritchard