Eulogy (Stephen)

By Stephen Joseph Gilhooly

Reverend Fathers and Deacons, family and friends,

I am Stephen, John’s younger son.  On behalf of my mother, Kevin and Virginia, my nephew JR and his wife Ginger, and the rest of our family, let me pass along our heartfelt thanks to Father Libone, the staff of this parish, all of you gathered here today, and everyone who has supported us over this past difficult week, by providing food and comfort, running errands, answering the phone, handing out Kleenex, sending e-mails and texts, and last, but certainly not least, liking all of our Facebook posts.

I take on the task of eulogizing my Father with a bit of trepidation, as my dad was clear on his opinion on eulogies:

“Why do you need a eulogy?  If people think well of you, they don’t need to hear one, and if they don’t, it’s not going to change their minds.  Just let the pastor speak on the Resurrection.”

Well, sorry Dad, I think people want to hear a little more about you.

First, I would like to share with you the Tough Smart Lawyer side of my father.

Like Kevin, I also had a job at TI when my father was in the legal department.  However, my job was not so glamorous — it was a summer job in the facilities department.  While I was working there, I heard some of my co-workers joking about work they had done at the home of a senior officer, with a nudge-nudge, wink-wink tone that indicated they thought it was done on the sly.  Such activity might not be lawful.  I happened to share the story with my dad over dinner.

His response was swift and certain:  “I will look into this, and if our facilities people did work at an officer’s house, I will make sure he receives a bill, and that he pays it.”

I was incredibly impressed with his integrity, and with his character.  I just hoped his resume was up to date.  I know that wasn’t the only time my dad delivered unpopular advice to his superiors.  He never wavered from doing his duty as he saw it.

By the way, if there are any TIers in the audience, or any members of the Enforcement Division of the Securities and Exchange Commission, not to worry.  My dad did confirm that all work was properly approved and accounted for.

Next I want to tell you about “Mr. John.”

Over the years, my parents had an assortment of household support, including babysitters, maids, gardeners, and health aides when my grandmother lived in their home.  For many of them, English was not their first language, and so Gilhooly was a mouthful.  Accordingly, many of them referred to my dad as Mr. John.

Mr. John was far more than just a boss.  My mother may have had something to do with it, but in addition to being a fair employer, Mr. John provided critical support to these people who happened to come into his orbit.

At various time, Mr. John aided in negotiating with landlords, evicting non-paying tenants, securing birth certificates, green cards, and Social Security benefits, handling family legal matters, negotiating with car dealers, and perhaps even helping with the financing.  My dad helped with medical and dental bills, and helped fund two home remodeling projects.  My parents hosted two weddings, a baptism reception, a confirmation party, and were planning to host their first Quinceañera.

“Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you do unto Me.”  And my father always said that he was repaid a hundred-fold for any kindness he offered.

When there was a task to be done, my dad was on it.

My dad was a Yankee from Providence, RI, who met and proposed to a south Texas rancher’s daughter.  When he arrived in D’Hanis, Texas, prior to his wedding, he stopped at the Ice Station, the local mini-mart and haven of the latest “news.”  While he was there, he overheard two old-timers discussing his upcoming wedding.

“Did you hear Shorty Ney’s youngest daughter is finally going to get married?”

“Yeah, I heard that, and poor thing, she has to marry a stranger.”

“Stranger” meant anyone born outside Medina County, Texas.  Clearly my dad had to prove himself.  To men who supported families on dry land farming and ranching, a Yankee from the Northeast with a degree in philosophy was suspect.  My dad decided to prove himself in the way every male in Medina County does. He grabbed a gun and went out into the pasture.

After a couple of hours, he pulled back up to the Ice Station.  But there was no trophy on the hood of his car.  One of the locals remarked, with a grin, “That’s okay, young fella, not everyone bags a deer on their first outing.”  I am pretty sure my dad had trouble hiding his satisfaction as he opened the trunk to reveal a ten-point buck.

Similarly, my dad always made sure his affairs were in order.  He and my mother have had wills since 1980 and had preplanned their funerals in 1989.  He even penned his own obituary – I think some of you realized that.  Over the summer, after a few health scares, he sat down with Kevin, Virginia, and me to review the terms of his will.

In mid-January, my dad thought he was suffering from indigestion and went to his doctor.  Testing ruled out intestinal and heart-related issues but revealed spots on his liver that proved to be malignant.

Ten days ago, my dad called Kevin, Virginia, and me together to review his options: aggressive chemotherapy or hospice care.  Aggressive treatment might extend briefly the quantity of his life but not the quality.  He chose hospice.

My dad wanted to live out his life at home, comfortably, surrounded by family.  We all fully supported his decision, although we had no idea how brief this period would be.  Kevin, Virginia, and I, as well as JR and Ginger, and the great-grandkids, Caleb and Carson, all got to spend quality time with him last weekend, when he was still feeling good.  We were blessed.

Finally, let me tell you a little about my dad’s faith, which has long been an inspiration to me.  He was a true Christian in the best sense of the word.

Among other things, my dad was a Eucharistic Minister, he led the Parents’ Association, and he together with my Mom led this parish’s Capital Campaign, which built the hall in which we will shortly hold a reception.  More importantly, however, the people who knew him as Mr. John could attest he lived his faith every day.

My dad recently related a story recently that sheds further light on his faith.  He was driving through an intersection, and another car ran the light and nearly hit him.  His instantaneous reaction:  “Here I come, Lord!”  No hesitation.  Just “Here I come, Lord.”  I am sure that is what he said last Tuesday.

Thank you.

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