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  • Writer's pictureDave Griffith

Eulogy for Jane and Ian

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Good afternoon.

My name is Dave Griffith. My wife Jacqui and I are friends of Jane and Ian McNeill, their family, and have been for some 22 years.

This afternoon I stand as witness to two lives lived well and to give testimony to the power of friendship, to the power of love, to the things that really matter. To share with Kip and John, their sons and the entire family what Jane and Ian meant to us personally and to the community at large. On behalf of the family let me first say thank you for your presence. You too stand as a witness to Jane and Ian’s life and to the commitment that we remember now, we remember tomorrow and we remember always.

We are in shock. The news Tuesday night that Ian and Jane McNeill were killed in a car accident is simply impossible to process.

I don’t know how to process that they were just here and in the blink of an eye they are gone. I have not been able to cry, not yet. Early Wednesday morning I got up and went to the accident scene on 202. I so wanted the news to not be true. I wanted to be where one life ended and for a people of faith another begins. I wanted to believe, I wanted to pray, I wanted to try and understand, and I wanted to say good bye just like everyone gathered today. A flood of memories and stories filled me and in my sadness I had to smile. You pick friends, or to be more precise they pick you. I am grateful for them both and for our common experiences and that common experience gives me the ability to start the process of healing. We gather today as a body of faith to do the same thing, any one of you who knew them on reflection of your experience with Jane and Ian, can’t help but smile. That my brothers and sisters is what we start today with the full knowledge that our common bond is we have been blessed to have had Ian and Jane in our lives. Hold that in your heart; honor that in your heart.

Ian and Jane are simply best friends. Not just to Jacqui and me, but too many of us. That was their gift, to make everyone friends. For 22 years we have been in and out of each other’s house to the point I know Jane’s kitchen better than my own. Years of Bowman’s Galas, Philip’s Mill shows, Trinity House Tours, Tinicum Fireworks and concerts, every lobster I cooked at lobster fest I cooked shoulder to shoulder with Ian. His rule, 20 minutes or 165 degrees, every 100 cooked we get a beer. We raised our children together, celebrated birthdays, joked, cried, argued politics, admired each other’s talents and ignored our flaws. Won and lost together on game nights. When the water heater broke and I was away Ian came over to fix it. When the printer broke I installed a new one for Jane because Ian was at boat school. If there was one guy I would want in a foxhole with me it would be Ian, and I would want Jane as a backup. Our kids knew if there was trouble, they had a go to with Ian and Jane, and that was true for many in the community.

Now in a moment, unanticipated and unexpected, they are gone. I am grateful that they went together. Together they were whole. They were giants in the community; they were giants in our hearts. They simply defined what good friends are. Unconditional, loving, full of laughter and understanding, and yes at times grumpy for reason only you could understand.

All you need to know about Jane and Ian’s life can be summed up by what happened on their porch. They were dedicated to hospitality. They loved gathering people at their house, sometimes old friends, sometimes putting new folks together for the first time, sometimes the stranger among us. Ian would fire up the grill, you could cook and make steel on that grill. If you were a regular, and there were many regulars on the McNeill porch, Jane would ask, actually tell you, to bring your specialty. Megg King would bring pies, Sue Eavenson would bring creative and delicious salads, Doug and Wendy Kale would bring something amazing, Roger and Patti would bring a dish, Jacqui and I would bring bread. Trey, Rick Lansill, Carl and Mary Beth would show up wine bottle in hand. I am pretty sure they were Phillips top customers. We gathered, we ate, we laughed, we relaxed, and you could not wait until the next time. The scriptures say that “In my father’s house there are many rooms” Tuesday he added a porch.

Go to Bowman’s and you will see Ian’s handiwork everywhere. You called the Trinity office and more than likely you got Jane. Look around here and you will see Ian’s woodworking all around us, the baptismal font, and the cross on top of the church. He was a master boat builder, here but one beautiful example, master chair maker, master carver. He was curious about everything and I can tell you had an opinion about everything. Jane was a cook, a master listener, a gifted friend, a confident to many, a keeper of trusts, and man could she organize. If I ever wanted to know what we were doing I just called Jane. You also knew on Tuesday they were at Bells and Thursdays were Ricks.

They were also Mon and Dad to Kip and John, sister to Paul and brother to Geoffrey and George. Ian called Jane Babe, she called him Hon... They loved each other deeply and with a loyalty that comes from years of partnership. Kip and John they loved you and they are immensely proud of you both. I know because they told us. We would talk of our hopes and dreams for our kids and know they had them for you both. Paul and Jackie, Geoffrey and George we know they got family.

So the porch is closed, sooner than any of us would want, but never in our hearts. The hole in our lives is enormous. I am grateful that we shared a common time with Ian and Jane. I can honestly say they know how we felt about them and they us. That may be the most powerful lesson of their lives and their gift to all of us can be summed up as:

Deeds not words.

Their lasting example to us is the example of work hard, don’t get discouraged, deal with it, do it, be dependable, open your hearts and your house to friends and strangers, love unconditionally, speak your mind, be great friends. When in doubt have a meal and a glass of wine with us. We will miss them terribly. Every time I look at the carved duck on my wall I will think of Ian. I can never cook lobster again without thinking of him, his absolute friendship and Jane's ability to care and feed you physically and more importantly your soul from a place of unconditional love.

Tuesday’s events also tell us live every day, love every day, because simply…. you just don’t know. From Matthew 24-25 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Say I love you often and mean it, say it today, and say it now.

In closing, l call us to payer.

The Lord be with you. (And also with you.)

“Heavenly Father we give thanks for the life of Jane and Ian McNeill. Hold them in your loving arms and let your light comfort their family and community as we deal with their passing from this life to the next. Let their example in this life be a guide to all of us and let their memory inspire us to do your work and love our neighbors as ourselves. Grant them peace and may we find joy and love in our everlasting memories of Ian and Jane. Know that we find comfort in the power of the resurrection and the life of the world to come.

God speed Jane. God speed Ian. Know a community loved you and holds you in our hearts. All this we ask in your name.”


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