Eulogy by Doug Huntley
I am privileged to be able to speak to all of you about Kelly Allen McGinnis--about what he meant to me. In the time that I knew Kelly – I can assure you that he was not boring, would not want a boring eulogy, and I will be damned if I do him an injustice by boring you all now.
For those of you that didn’t know - Kelly was my third son and my protégé (Sorry Roger, but I think it is time you knew!).
Actually, I met Kelly several years ago when he was a little shorter and a little rounder. His parents introduced us at a Gulls hockey game and that was where you could always find him if they were in town. Kelly assisted on the ice, he was easy to like and he loved being on the ice – smiling at the young ladies and cutting up when he would skate past us. He was a ham and he loved the attention.
I used to bribe him to point out the women in the stands that were alone… But that is another story! Ahem…
Kelly graduated high school this year and I was as proud as could be. He was already working for a great company; he had goals, and he knew what he wanted. He worked hard, put in long hours, listened and remembered what was asked of him and took what was offered. Kelly was following in his Dad’s footsteps, leading an honest life, treating people with respect, and holding his friends and family close.
While graduating high school and working hard at your job are important – they are not the things that defined Kelly. Kelly loved life; he was gentle, kindhearted, fair, and equitable. He had a sense of humor that was years ahead of his age and a respect for others that is rare in people his age. The best way to explain these traits is to share with you a couple of my memories.
Thanksgiving 2004, Roger and Lisa had a bunch of us up to the house in Ramona to celebrate. Randy and Dixie brought the girls over for a few minutes to say hello and hang out. Lisa, (God Bless her) took a can of Readi-whip and sprayed whip- cream into Kiley’s hair. She started crying and without missing a beat Kelly was there and he got her to stop crying and had her and all of us laughing a few minutes later when he emptied the remaining Readi-whip into Lisa’s hair.
You would think that adding whipped cream to Lisa’s package, a fine looking filly all ready, would be a great thing – and you are Correct!!!
Earlier this year, Kati worked for a bakery in Poway and Kelly helped out on a number of occasions. The business hit troubled times and was forced to close. Kelly worked his tail off helping to pack-up the store, disassemble the ovens, pull out the sinks, bag up the fiberglass, and did everything that was asked of him and many things that were not. He was tireless and giving. Kelly showed true depth of character and was a testament to the values that Roger and Lisa embody.
Kelly had firmed up and put on some mass and liked to test his strength against some of us bigger guys (and just for today we will call Roger a bigger guy). Kelly was wiry and quick and to his credit would give fat old guys like me a work out. He enjoyed testing himself against us and he never got angry or lashed out during our matches even when he was hopelessly pinned and once he was released or had “uncled” out he would start up again. Kelly understood that losing a match wasn’t shameful and I believe that he learned something from every one of us that he challenged. Kelly was a competitor and won and lost gracefully without making it personal.
I mention this because of another story, at school he was berated by several boys and instead of taking up their gauntlet he left the classroom and walked away. The adolescents came after him and found him in a place where they were alone. They teased him and pushed him and the three of them thought that they had Kelly. They were wrong. Kelly defended himself with honor – he simply hit the lead instigator but the boy got back up and Kelly hit him a second time and knocked him out. The other two cowered and Kelly walked away – he later said to me that he was sorry for hitting the boy and that he should have gotten away. I told him then as I am telling you now that Kelly acted with honor, dignity, and humility – he would have been well within his right to pummel the other two but he chose the higher road… twice!
Kelly had a huge heart and a remarkable sense of humor. What more could any of us ask than to be loved and amused? Kelly did both with ease, he loved us and made us laugh.
Kelly was 17 and his parents went on a trip. Ryan and Kati were off at college and Kelly was left alone. I asked if I could take Kelly out to dinner and to hang out. I was told “sure.” So, Obviously - we went to Hooters… I mean we were young, single, sexy, and ripe for the pickin’ where else were we to go? At Hooters Kelly and I ordered and Kelly being the world’s pickiest eater sort of played with his food but his eyes were moving at the speed of lust! His radar was in overdrive and he checked out every orange clad bottom in the restaurant – twice! Then it happened… a young Hooterette, 18, dark hair, green eyes, and drop dead beautiful, wearing the police belt and riot cap and carrying handcuffs came over and said “hi”… Kelly was blushing… they hit it off – chatting like best friends… She eventually went back to the t-shirt counter and with a little prodding from “Uncle Doug” – Kelly went over to talk some more and get a look at her wares – I mean her Hooter’s…….. merchandise. We made 2 oopses that night – we bought the wrong tee shirt and left without her number.
It has been surmised that Roger, Gary, and I share a brain… this has yet to be scientifically proven… But we live and laugh and savor life with the same fervor – we are the modern day equivalent to the 3 Musketeers of old (easy it’s a euphemism – Roger that is e-u-p-h-e-m-i-….) Kelly was our D'Artagnan – he was our Fourth! He was young, impressionable, gentlemanly, and was diligently working on his Musketeer status (Musketeer sounds so much more dignified than “man pig”). The point is that Kelly was becoming the man we all knew he could be.
Whether Kelly was spending time with Randy and Dixie’s daughters so they could have an evening out, or jumping on the trampoline with the girls at the Ramona House, or pant-sing Gary at the Del-Mar races, or telling jokes over the pool table at the pool hall in Poway (ask me later and I will tell you his “grass” joke), or hitting on young ladies at Hooters - he was good hearted and at ease.
A snippet I found in preparing for today that I want to share with you all – especially with Roger and Lisa: After Gracie Allen died, George Burns found a note in her dresser drawer. It read...
In closing, all of us who knew Kelly shouldn't be surprised by any of the comments that I have made here. This was a celebration of his life as I remember it. Kelly is gone--and we're going to grieve. But he would not want our grief to continue without an endpoint. He would want us to get on with our lives; to remember him, but to celebrate our own lives.
Eulogy by Jenna Lavaliere
Over the last several days, when I thought about today, I knew that I would have things I wanted to say, but the ideas I wanted to convey were so important that, for the most part, my own words seemed insufficient. So I’m going to borrow from others: from some of you who are here today and loved Kelly, and also from some writers we don’t know personally.
I’ve been listening to Kelly’s family reminisce, and reading the words his friends have written about him, and I see a common thread: that Kelly had turned the corner from boyhood to young manhood, and he was moving through the world as an adult does, leaving his mark, touching others in a variety of positive ways. Kelly had so many of the friends one would expect him to have: those who were close to his own age and shared his interests. If you listen to those friends, you’ll hear the same things repeated: that he was a whole lot of fun, yes, but that he was also a loyal friend, that he “understood”, that he cared. He was less and less the boy who needed, and more and more the young man who gave. Roger and Lisa have been generous to share their family with us, and Kelly was generous to let us share in his life. It was a joy to watch Kelly progress toward manhood, and in such an impressive way. Virgil A. Kraft said that, “One sign of maturity is the ability to be comfortable with people who are not like us.” And Julius Gordon put it similarly: “Maturity implies otherness. . .the art of living is the art of living with.” I think it’s indicative of Kelly’s level of maturity that he also had friends of all ages, and felt completely at home with a variety of people. It always gave me a little smile that at 18, Kelly actually enjoyed the company of his parents’ friends, and considered us his friends as well. If we, the “old folks” (from his perspective!), were getting together, he wanted to be there. The last time I saw Kelly was the Thursday before Christmas, when we had a backyard barbeque. I asked Lisa what Kelly was up to, and she told me he knew what we were doing, and maybe he would come over. He did, and we were flattered-- although I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just our sparkling personalities he was after, since his first act upon arrival was to hit Gary up for a steak.
We can be glad not only that we loved Kelly, but that he was secure in the knowledge that it was so. . . that he knew his company was enjoyed. . . that he knew he brought pleasure and laughter to us. . . that he knew he had talents to offer . . . that he knew he could be justifiably proud, confident, and comfortable in his own skin. . . and that hard-won success was his.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson described success, it is not easy to achieve, but even by age 18 Kelly had experience with each of the criteria:
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure betrayal of false friends,to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
Yes, Kelly was successful. I have memories of Kelly in my mind that are like snapshots and little video clips. I think you know what these mental snapshots are—it can be just a facial expression, a comment, or the sound of a voice that sticks with you—sometimes for an important reason, sometimes for no apparent reason at all. Here are some of mine:
Everyone here has snapshot memories of Kelly; there are mental albums full. We carry them with us, like photos in our wallets. The snapshots might make us smile, cry, just sigh, or laugh out loud. And that is how we keep Kelly with us. In the places that we all are, in all the separate places that we will be, he is there too.