Wednesday, June 08, 2016

David Leonard Gudorf - Eulogy

David Leonard Gudorf 
July 28, 1935 - June 4, 2016
“Be Not Afraid. I go before you always.”

Simple yet powerful words of faith from our heavenly Father that underscore the spirit of David Leonard Gudorf; the Brother, Husband, Dad, Grandpa, Great-Grandpa and friend whom we celebrate today.

While we each mourn Dad’s passing in our own private way, we can all take comfort in knowing that Dad is finally at peace.

As the oldest of Dave and Marion’s 8 kids and 54 grand-kids and great-grand-kids, (what a crew!) let us celebrate Dad by remembering the heart of the man we dearly loved.


Dad was a salesman in the very best sense of the word. He had the gift of  gab for storytelling. However, he also went through phases where a single word said it all.
For a while, Dad’s go-to word was TURKEY. Then he transitioned onto AWESOME and near the end, as Alzheimer’s ravaged his mind and words failed him, his go-to single word became WHATEVER.
  • In the summer of ‘78, when I told Dad that Cheryl and I had become engaged, he stopped in mid-bite across the breakfast table where the two of us sat, looked me in the eye, and simply said, “You Turkey”. Then he went back to chomping on his grapefruit and reading his newspaper.
  • A few years later, Dad’s go-to watchword became “awesome”. What a lightning storm that was last night, huh?  Awesome. Did you see the picture on that new Sony TV?  Awesome.
  • More recently, when Alzheimer's brought forth the “whatever” word, at first, it was because he had simply lost his way in a story. As we’ve all heard most of his stories at least nine-hundred-and-thirty-seven times, we all instinctively knew what turn of phrase could get him back on track and he’d continue unabated.  Eventually though, “whatever” was about the best Dad could manage. Whatever, you awesome turkey Dad, we loved you always.
Beyond his one-word wonders though, Dad introduced us kids to hiking the outdoors at an early age. Today, I can appreciate the cost effectiveness of hiking to a man with 8 kids. Back then, I just knew it as fun. As grand-kids came along, Dad inaugurated the “Grandpa’s Hiking Buddies Club”. Officially, he tried to make it a “boys-only” club though the reality was he shared a love of the outdoors with any and all and in doing so created many special memories of time spent together. “Be not afraid, I go before you always.”

Dad gave us his love of music favorites; Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond, Stan Getz, and many more. Dad loved jazz, Chicago blues, and big band instrumentals. Take Five was one of his all time favorites. Imagine how it will sound in Heaven. 

However, Dad was not a big singer-songwriter lyrics fan. Once though, the two of us were on a highway to somewhere, I was driving and as such, I got to choose the music. It was Jimmy Buffett (shocking, I know). When Jimmy sang how “mobile homes look a lot better as beer cans” Dad laughed a big ol’ laugh (maybe because I owned a mobile home back then or maybe because he truly appreciated beer cans over mobile homes). Whatever, finally, a songwriter’s line kept him chuckling for miles.

Of course, cars and Dad were always a thing. To the very end, his Acura with it’s custom sound system was simply awesome. The car story I remember the most though involved him and some buddies getting an old car up on the railroad tracks outside of Minster, locking the throttle at a couple of miles an hour, and letting the rails guide them down the line, bumping over each and every rail tie while they sat inside with … well, cold cans of beer. Perhaps it was that car memory that made Dad laugh at that Jimmy Buffet line.

It seemed Dad always had a project underway; a household or gardening improvement project or an electronics or woodworking project. In doing so, he became the teacher who taught us to love working with our hands; the simple joy of fixing, building, making things, whether it was a cat whisker radio or a pinewood derby car, Dad, the teacher, instilled a builder’s heart in each of us kids. Today, his kids and grand-kids build businesses, homes, crafts, teach students and serve as caregivers. And as witnessed by all the great-grand-kids, we build pretty cool families too. Take Five Dad.

When it came to family events, Dad was always the guy behind the camera; 8MM, Super 8, Video 8, Betamax, 35mm, it didn’t matter. His 50th birthday gift from us kids was a Minolta single lens reflex camera you’ll still find at the house. He shared his love of photography as well; he helped me build a darkroom in a corner of the basement when I was 14 and granddaughter Amanda was telling us just the other day about her first camera, one from Dad. 

All of you who are constantly behind the camera as Dad was recording growing families, friends and all their exploits, make sure someone catches pictures of you too (selfies don’t count!).  There will come a time when all those who were in front of the lens will cherish each and every shot of the person behind the lens. Smile, Dad.

Then there were the business lessons Dad delivered. Mom taught me of numbers and why cash flow matters, but Dad and his dad, taught me an enthusiasm for the potential of business to do good in our world.  It was a blessing growing up in our retail store learning the ways of the consumer electronics business.  That store, Gudorf & Moorman, Gudorf &Sons, or Gudorf & Sons & Daughters (depending on the era) launched my 30+ year career of crisscrossing the globe. For that, I am forever grateful to Dad and Mom.
  • Matt and I were exchanging notes recently and agreed that the single most impact-full business lesson we learned from Dad came from his appreciation for and expectation of the sales process done right by the customer.
  • I was 9 years of age when the Cub Scout candy sales contest first came up, yet Dad would not allow me to knock on a single neighbor’s door until I had practiced and delivered, to his satisfaction, a proper sales pitch. This included a clear introduction of myself, a compelling explanation of the features, advantages, and benefits of my chocolate covered candies, and an assumptive statement to close the $2 sale.
  • Dad certainly understood sales from the business and the customer point of view. He also understood that all of life is really a sales job. Whether you are selling yourself on the idea of going after a big audacious dream, selling others on coming along, or selling yourself into a peaceful state of grace when your time is short; it is all sales. And in Dad’s case, it was sales buoyed by an unending optimism and faith that it would all work out. All of us here today certainly benefited from his optimism and faith and that’s another life lesson to treasure.
Given his battle with Alzheimer’s, and to reference another Jimmy Buffett line, Dad went out “waltzing on memories while he faded like a flare”. So many memories. So many lessons. So many stories. We miss you already Dad. We love you and we celebrate you forever.

Listen and you can feel Dad’s presence saying, “Be Not Afraid. I go before you always.”
Rest In Peace David Leonard Gudorf - June 8, 2016 St. Stephen's, Hamilton, OH

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