Illinois Wesleyan University

Remarks on Their Father

by Joffre Myers and Minor Myers III

From Joffre Myers:

Joffre Myers, left, and Minor Myers III

We would be remiss if we didn’t begin our remarks by thanking everyone who has lent support to us. There have been so many people who have done so many wonderful things, each providing a bright spot in an otherwise dark and difficult time. Dad, especially, appreciated the cards and other ways people expressed their wishes for him, and my brother, mother, and I continue to be touched by each one, so let us begin by saying thank you to everyone, to the Bloomington/Normal and Illinois Wesleyan communities.

Dad, of course, is not with us today, and our guess is he’s probably glad he’s not here. He never liked celebrations in his honor. On his birthdays, he always found reasons to be out of his office, so no one could throw a party, and he always discouraged any hurrahs when he got home. He was uncomfortable around the big balloons or a cake with his name on it. The reason was simple: he didn’t think he deserved it; he always said there were more important things to worry about than him. And indeed, that was what he spent his life doing — using his boundless energy for the benefit of others.

Illinois Wesleyan received, writ large, the same devotion and care that Dad gave to his family. He had a knack for seeing greatness in things, and how those things could become even better. That was what was so attractive for him about IWU: its seemingly unlimited potential. And with a lot of help from others, Dad, with his "tigger-the-tiger-like bounce," to borrow a theme from Professor Bray’s poem, helped the University realize that potential; he helped take it places that might have been unthinkable fourteen years prior. The same was true on the other side of Park Street, at our house. There, Dad, above all else, was such a constant source of compassion and love that you always wanted to be around him. By doing that, of course, some of his eccentric interests, like the meteorite collection or the muddy Roman coins, rubbed off onto you. And, before you knew it, you found you were becoming like him because you couldn’t help it — he was simply that compelling. In many ways, then, Dad provided for us the same thing he did for the University: encouragement, energy, inspiration, and gentle guidance.

And we know he was proud of Illinois Wesleyan, proud of the people who work here, and proud of the things they achieved together. We hope he was proud of us.

From Minor Myers III:

Now that he is gone, we are in some sense adrift, but at the same time we could not be on surer footing.

He did not give us bread, but showed us how to make it ourselves.

Our father taught us two boys, as he taught Illinois Wesleyan, to harness our passions and realize our potential, which he always saw so far before anyone else.

And he showed us, as he showed Illinois Wesleyan, that power and talent and excellence are useful only insofar as they are deployed in service to others — only insofar as they are used, to borrow his words, to go forth and do good.

So while we grieve intensely over the loss of our father, we can take solace in the face that he let us all behind the curtain.

He showed us by his actions how to be more like him.

And for that, and so many other things, Dad, you deserve this celebration in your honor, even if you would have come up with an excuse to miss it.

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