Donald P. Thacker
Memorial Service and Celebration of His Life
September 3, 1931 – March 8, 2017
Caughman-Harman Funeral Home
503 N. Lake Drive
Lexington, South Carolina
Saturday, March 11, 2017
Eleven O’clock in the Morning
The Rev. Jennie Ann Barrington, Minister
Welcome and Opening Words
Good morning and welcome– It is a privilege to lead you in worship this morning as we gather to honor the memory and celebrate the life of Don Thacker, who was so well-loved, and who is already so dearly missed. It is a most sad occasion that has brought us together. And yet my heart is warmed as I think of all the ways that Don, throughout his whole life, kept bringing people together, kept creating positive connections between people, and kept encouraging people to live life to the fullest, through literature and the arts; through the challenging questions and statements he continually made; and through conveying to people affection and curiosity. Don was kind and generous, to family and friends, to all of us who knew him through our Unitarian Universalist congregation, and to strangers in restaurants, parks, and crossroads. We are gathered to pay tribute to Don and his life. Grateful to have known Don, let us remember him lovingly and long.
Opening Word: from the Prophet, Mica, Chapter 6, Verse 8
He has shown you, O mortal men and women, what is good. What does Yahweh require of you, but to act justly, to love mercy (loving kindness), and to walk humbly with your God?
Meditation or Prayer
Let us join our hearts together now in a moment of meditation or prayer:
Spirit of Life and Love– Be with us this day, as we gather to honor and remember Don Thacker, loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, storyteller, champion of democracy and the arts, Unitarian Universalist, teacher, social worker, neighbor, and friend. We ask that all Don’s loved-ones be blessed with comfort, reassurance, and strength, especially his beloved wife, Ruth, his son, Phillip, his daughter, Molly, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, fellow members of this church family, neighbors, and friends. We also hold in our hearts the memory of Don and Ruth’s loved-ones who, though not physically present with us today, are with us in spirit. We especially remember, in love, their daughter, Sara. Our loss of Don, so suddenly, has left us in the shocked, sad, and overwhelming emotions of grief. We come together this morning in the hope that one day, in time, we may feel a sense of peace that Don’s spirit has become part of the divine light and courage and strength and love which is ever-flowing through the world. For love is stronger than death. May that blessed comfort come to us, through each other’s care, and from above. Amen.
Reading “Zest for Life,” by Gregory Huyette
Each new day is a wonder…
A gift I don’t deserve.
I’ll try not to scatter it asunder
With a careless, unthinking swerve.
My focus must be toward others,
Searching for each want or need;
In an unceasing effort to understand
Where I can most effectively intercede.
Only through loving and listening
Will my life be of value to any of the rest,
And thus generate the joy by its glistening,
Which is the real source of my life’s zest.
Remembrances and Reflections Family
Brief Remembrances and Reflections by Friends, Family, Neighbors, and Colleagues
Eulogy Rev. Barrington
Though we are so sad that Don is not physically present with us today, his exuberant and energetic spirit is with us still—Family, higher learning, helping others, promoting democracy, a spirit of adventure, good clean fun, and entertaining stories well-told– these are the things Don Thacker dedicated his life to, every day of his life. He never really did slow down. And we were so fortunate to have him with us, for eighty-five years. Don was so well-liked and admired, for his intelligence, warmth and genuineness, and for his always stimulating conversation. He helped us all to not take ourselves too seriously, and to not forget to be cheerful. We are sorely missing Don’s vibrant presence.
Don was born, on September 3, 1931, in Danville, Kentucky. He was the Chief of Social Worker Services at the Dorn VA Hospital. He was a devoted member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia, South Carolina, enhanced the congregation in so many ways, and had served as a member of the board of trustees. He was also a member of the South Carolina Gerontological Society, the South Carolina Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and the South Carolina Memorial Society/AARP. And he was a part-time adjunct professor at the U.S.C. College of Social Work.
One of the things Don and Ruth loved most was all of the traveling they did together, to so many stimulating, beautiful, and educational places, including Europe, Russia, Alaska, and Hawaii. To get to Hawaii, they traveled on a ship. The journey was at least as much fun as their time at their destination. And that’s how a life well-lived should be.
Don was never one to sit still for very long. He did so much to help others people, and communities, and charities. He believed in people, encouraged people, and “never met a stranger.” Don lit up the room when he walked in, and was always ready with a hug when needed. He also read all the time– a wide variety of books. The librarians all knew him by name, would find certain books for him, and recommend other books they thought he would appreciate. Don was a Democrat, and gave of his time to promote democracy, working the polls, and going to town meetings and conventions. He also loved theater, and art museums. To Don, our Unitarian Universalist congregation was about caring community, connections, and a place to live out what you believe. As a Unitarian Universalist, Don was very accepting and non-judgmental. And he was always ready with a caring listening ear. Though his family tells me that Don could, sometimes, be “selectively hard of hearing,” depending on what was being said to him, or what household chore he was being asked to help with. And we all know what an entertaining storyteller Don was. I have heard the story, several times, of how he and Bob Scott took the boat that Bob had built himself out into the ocean, and then a storm suddenly came over them, and all hell broke loose. Was it a hurricane? Was it a typhoon? I will never tire of hearing that story and, indeed, it got better and more dramatic every time Don told it. Don was exuberant and truly funny. But life with Don wasn’t always a bouquet of roses. He had this way of saying to people, “Would you be good to go–” and you can fill in the blank with the library, then the post office, then the grocery store, then the art museum. He may have always phrased, “Would you be good to go” as a question. But it wasn’t really a question. It was actually more like a friendly command. I think that “Would you be good to go” was Don Thacker’s Commandment. But those in his company could be assured that the outing would be fun, and even adventurous.
None of us knows for certain what happens after a person dies– From everything I have heard and read, most people surmise that, after we die, we will know God better. Don would not have said it that way himself. But he did find prayer to be helpful, and always said a grace at mealtime, giving thanks for our food, our family, and the many blessings in our lives. Most importantly, Don Thacker was a religious man in the helpful, thoughtful, and generous way he lived his life. His passing is a great loss to the world. But we are privileged to have known and loved him, and can be glad to remember him. He will continue to influence everyone whose life was touched by his countless efforts to make this world more compassionate and cheerful. And we can all strive to follow in his exemplary footsteps. Now his spirit is free from all physical pain and bondage, free to continue to bless us here on earth.
I’ll close with these words by singer songwriter Danny Schmidt, which sum up what Don valued and his philosophy of life. These lyrics are from the song, “Company of Friends:”
When I die, let them judge me by my company of friends
Let them know me as the footprints that I left upon the sand
Let them laugh for all the laughter
Let them cry for laughter’s end
But when I die, let them judge me by my company of friends
When I die, let them toast to all the things that I believe
Let them raise a glass to consciousness
And not spill a drop for grief
Let the bubbles rise at midnight
Let their tongues get light as thieves
And when I die, let them toast to all the things that I believe
I believe in restless hunger
I believe in red balloons
I believe in private thunder
In the end I do believe
I believe in inspiration
I believe in lightning bugs
I believe in slow creation
In the end I do believe
I believe in ink on paper
I believe in lips on ears
I believe what’s shared is savored
In the end I do believe
I believe in work on Sundays
I believe in raising barns
I believe in wasting Mondays
In the end I do believe
I believe in intuition
I believe in being wrong
I believe in contradiction
In the end I do believe
I believe in living smitten
I believe all hearts will mend
I believe our book is written
By our company of friends
Special Music “Sailing Round the Room” Emmylou Harris
Benediction and Closing Words
“And now we [say farewell to] our beloved. We are glad that he lived, that we saw his face, knew his friendship, and walked the way of life with him. We deeply cherish the memory of his words and deeds and character. We leave him in peace. With respect we bid him farewell. In love we remember his companionship, his kindly ways. And thinking of him in this manner, let us go in quietness of spirit and live in charity, one with the other.” [Alfred S. Cole]
Now may the noble and loving spirit of Donald P. Thacker abide in your hearts always, even as the eternal spirit has descended upon him in benediction on this day. Go in peace.
[Please join us for a reception following the service.]