Chuck Sanders would have loved Saturday, August 30, at Union Chapel. It was a beautiful Vineyard day, and all of his family members were there to pay tribute. The memorial service in his honor was an inspirational summary of his life.
The service began with the Union Chapel choir singing an anthem about a life well lived. The Rev. Cathlin Baker then welcomed the packed house, summarized some of the important events in Chuck’s life, and spoke about his deep commitment to the church. The opening hymn was appropriately titled Spirit of Gentleness.
After scripture readings from granddaughters Kelly Gereski and Katie Bryan, daughter Debby Lewis read a poem of remembrance in honor of both her mom and her dad. She then shared a touching news clipping about a guy with class given to Chuck by his wife Kit, which Chuck had kept in his wallet for many years.
Heidi Bryan remembered her father as a devoted husband and a great storyteller. Some of the latter must have rubbed off because Heidi had many cute stories of her own about a father who was her Rock of Gibraltar.
Grandson Jamie Pizzirusso read a poem he had written for Chuck for his 90th birthday. The poem was about their life together. It was touching, life affirming and very funny. At the conclusion, the congregants gave him a rousing ovation.
Bruce Sanders remembered his dad for his many contributions to the lives of other people. He cited several nonprofits where Chuck had played a prominent role in both Montclair, N.J., and the Vineyard. He characterized his dad as a man of integrity who was both empathetic and nonjudgmental. Bruce concluded by saying that his father left the world a far better place than he had found it.
The Rev. Dr. John D. Schule delivered the homily. He began by saying that Chuck Sanders was a man who would be in our hearts and minds for a long time to come. He concluded by asking those present to give a standing ovation for this very good man. That ovation lasted five minutes or more.
Following the service at Union Chapel we partied at the East Chop Tennis Club. It was a day that those in attendance will long remember.
Thank you Polly O’Leary. In your honor, we had a wonderful celebration of your life at the East Chop Beach Club on Sunday, August 31. You would have loved it, and been so proud of daughter Kristi Davin, son Peter Thalheimer, and your longtime friend Trish O’Leary. They hosted the party and warmly received the large crowd in attendance. Sadly, though, we missed your belly laugh, fun outlook on life and feisty opinions. Readers wishing to honor Polly can make donations in her name to Vest-a-Dog or the American Lung Association.
This brings my column full circle. I began in late June remembering eight East Choppers we lost last winter and end in early September with Chuck and Polly. We have the best parties honoring the members of our community we tragically lose, but I for one am looking forward to getting together under different circumstances. Have a good winter and stay healthy, please!