What a first date! In 1981 Skip Ivison took his future wife Leigh to a small restaurant in Chadds Ford, Pa. On the way home from the restaurant, Skip asked Leigh what she would like to do next. “Let’s drive to Martha’s Vineyard,” Leigh replied. They drove all night and arrived in Woods Hole in time for the first boat. They slept on the beach most of that day, and got the last boat leaving the Island that night. Eight months later they were married.

Leigh Ivison died of pancreatic cancer on August 10, 2014. Her life was celebrated at Union Chapel on Sunday, July 5. The Rev. Cathlin Baker presided over the service. Sons Will and Andy read poems in honor of their mother.

In an emotion-packed eulogy, Skip summed up Leigh’s life by saying: “What defined Leigh was her love of life and the joy she brought to others.” She deeply loved her sons, and her many friends in East Chop and Pennsylvania. “Leigh was my wife, my lover, my partner, my buddy, my soul mate. She completed me. She was my hero,” Skip concluded.

Leigh’s good friend Kim Patterson focused on Leigh’s sparkling blue eyes, her beautiful smile, and her contagious laugh. “She made the most of each day,” Kim said. “She was organized, a planner. She lived her life with a purpose as we all came to know watching her courageous battle with cancer.”

Skip’s boyhood friend David Stephens presented the overflowing gathering of family and friends with some grim statistics. “The vast majority of people who suffer from pancreatic cancer last four to six months following the diagnosis. Leigh lived almost four years. Why?” David asked. “Because she never gave up. She taught us all how to live — for each day, for every moment that is precious. She didn’t have a mean bone in her body, an enemy in the world.”

Following his eulogy, David sang By My Side from Godspell. David sang that song for Leigh and Skip at their wedding 33 years ago. In her last email to him, Leigh asked David to sing it at her service. The circle was completed. Many of those in attendance had lumpy throats or tears in their eyes.

A reception was held at the Ivison home following the service. It was a typical Ivison party — filled with good food, laughter, and in this case memories of a truly wonderful woman.

I have often thought a good place to research a book would be in a bar. Mark Berzins, of the extended Carroll clan, beat me to the punch. As one of the largest independent bar owners in the country, Mark has spent more than 20 years watching the action. As a high school graduation present for his oldest daughter Clare, he wrote Most Guys are Losers (And How to Find a Winner).

In the dedication, Mark says: “There are many important things in here which I would find difficult to discuss with you face-to-face. This made it easier.” This book is a must-read for young women headed off to college for the same reason. They would not take this dating advice well from a parent.

A loser is a guy who is not worth your time. They come in many varieties — abusers, cheats, jerks, creeps, alcoholics, freeloaders, snobs, and ones that won’t commit. Good guys are loyal, trustworthy, disciplined, possessing self-control, thoughtful, modest, with a sense of humor. There are good guys around. Be patient, settle only for the best, and you will find one, Mark tells Clare.

Mark has some sound advice for young women entering college: never sleep with him on the first date, never lose self-control to drugs or alcohol, and it’s always a mistake to think you can reform him. Some of his advice was surprising. A good marriage does not require hard work. It is, instead, effortless. He also counsels young women not to look for a man to be their best friend or soul mate. A guy will never view the relationship that way, Mark says. You are instead the woman he loves.

Mark knows guys and young women well. His advice is never preachy. He makes his points through stories, which allows the reader to see and experience the problem herself. His advice is honest, heartfelt, and delivered in a no nonsense style. It’s advice that every single woman needs to hear.

Send East Chop news to herricklr@verizon.net.