1. Reverend Robert Carlson - introduction
BOB CARLSON: Welcome all to the Church of the Nativity. Our gathering here
today for a memorial service is really not what Pearl Harper wanted. I guess she
didn‟t want it for basically three reasons:
First, that there is a certain humility about Pearl that really didn‟t want a
bunch of her family and friends getting together and talking about her.
And second, really such services historically (in taste) have the flavor of really
getting together to intercede for some poor sinner who really didn‟t deserve
to go to heaven. Well, Pearl didn‟t believe that, and I don‟t believe it either
(that that‟s why we‟re here, or that… …that doesn‟t really help that much!).
And thirdly, she really didn‟t want a religious service. Pearl considered herself
to be an Agnostic and didn‟t want to be a hypocrite. She had either too much
intellectual honesty to… to buy into any particular brand of religion, or
perhaps it was just pride, or just that she was too much of a free spirit really
to say “I might be an Episcopalian,” or a Roman Catholic or a Buddhist or
something like that – she was just too free to really be that way.
But yet, I am an Episcopal priest; I‟m happy to preside at this memorial service.
Because… well… let me say this in a way that Pearl would approve of (I hope):
(It would sound something like Inside the Actor‟s Studio - you know - where
you ask: “When you get to heaven, what will the Spirit Almighty say;” if there
is a God and so forth) If there is a God, and if there is a Heaven, I really
believe that that God has reserved a special place for people like Pearl (and
for the quality of life she led)!
And so, Pearl‟s family and I decided that this service would have to be different. It
would be a memorial service, meaning that, in it we would spend most of our time
remembering things about Pearl which we valued, and then giving thanks for those
qualities or events.
We‟ll begin with a minute of silent reflection, and then listen to two or three readings
which I think speak to Pearl‟s special qualities. Then her sons have a few
recollections to make. And then we‟ll have an opportunity for all of you to speak,
before we end with prayers of thanksgiving, The Lord‟s Prayer, and a committal.
Let‟s begin with the first lesson (our lesson being the silence) and then we‟ll go on to
hear the readings.
2. All - a moment of silence
3. Olivia Harper - reading
OLIVIA HARPER: If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not
have love, I am a noisy gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers,
and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to
remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my
possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It
does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in
wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes
all things, and endures all things.
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues,
they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part,
and we prophesy only in part. But when the complete comes, the partial will come
to an end.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child; I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.
For now we see in a mirror, dimly; but then, we see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I will know fully, even as I have fully known.
And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three... and the greatest of these is
4. Carolyn Harper - reading
CAROLYN HARPER: The lawyer wanting to justify himself, asked Jesus, “And who is
Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the
hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.
Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him; he passed
by the other side. So likewise, a Levite - when he came to the place and saw him -
passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and
when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his
wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal,
brought him to the inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii
and gave them to the innkeeper and said, „Take care of him, and when I come back,
I will repay you whatever more you spend.‟”
"Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the
hands of the robbers?”
He said, “The one who showed him mercy."
Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
5. Geoffrey Harper - recounting
GEOFFREY HARPER: I‟m Geoffrey, Pearl‟s youngest son. I‟m sorry, I don‟t speak
very well off-the-cuff, so I wrote this this morning, off-the-cuff. I didn‟t want to
write it too far in advance, because I wanted it to reflect the way I feel today.
It‟s not as long as it looks, I have big fonts so I can see it without my glasses. It‟s
actually fairly short. These are my feelings:
My mother really didn‟t want to have any kind of service for her, as Bob mentioned.
She just wanted to be cremated at minimal expense, and be done with it, and have
everyone move on with his or her lives. I recall just a few years ago having this
discussion with her, and I pointed out that funerals and such are for the living; they
are not the business of the deceased. She appreciated the logic in this and just said,
“whatever you want to do, but don‟t get me involved.” So, here we are.
Who was Pearl Harper to me? First, she was my mother. She loved me, and I
always knew that, in good times and bad. I rarely thought about her as anyone but
my mother, and it was not until many years later as an adult I began to appreciate
who she was, and all of the things she had done, and all of the people she had
What did I get from my mother? She instilled in me a true compassion for my fellow
human beings and to give all I encounter a fair shake, regardless of outward
appearance. Before I was old enough to understand what prejudice meant and all
the societal problems we have today with prejudice at their roots, my mother, by
example through her actions, taught me to love all and hate no one. I learned about
hate and pre-judging by the actions of others. This isn‟t to say she raised me to be
naïve; it is to say that before the inescapable human tendency to pre-judge occurs at
the intellectual level, my natural tendency is to be warm and welcoming and collect
all the facts first. It is my nature. For this I am grateful to my mother.
I recall many stories about my mother and myself about which I could spend hours
speaking. Let me just touch the surface here, as we have many people who would
like to speak.
I remember the Watergate hearings in 1973. I was just 11 years old. How I hated
those hearings! I was too young (or not smart enough) to be interested, or even try
to understand what was going on. I remember being very annoyed that my
television shows had taken a second seat to all of this “adult” stuff. My mother
insisted on keeping the television on the hearings all day – at full volume, while
running around the house doing housework and periodically yelling accusatory
remarks back at what was being said, from various rooms in the house. At the time,
I thought I had the strangest and craziest mother of all my classmates and “why
can‟t she just be normal like the other mothers?” but I would remember those times
fondly many years later.
I remember going places with my mom when I was a child: shopping; to the
museums in downtown Washington; to Henson Creek golf course to drive the golf
cart for her (once out of site from the clubhouse) as she played a few holes; to the
Arena Stage to see a play. Wherever we went, someone would invariably commit
some act of unfairness or unkindness - either to us or around us - and my mother
couldn‟t resist pointing this out to him or her, and trying to make right what was
wrong. Does everyone remember “All in the Family?” (a show my mother loved).
Remember when Archie Bunker would get upset when someone began stirring things
up and he‟d say “Oh, geez!” No matter where we went, she would always stir
something up and I would feel just like that. I would remember those times fondly
many years later.
My mother helped many people, but she did always put her family first. The greatest
gift my mother gave me was my sobriety. Although my mother was not an alcoholic,
and never drank alcoholically, she could see it in me. She was always afraid that I
had been passed the curse of alcoholism somehow, as she knew her family history.
She was right, of course, but, like any good alcoholic, I denied this for many years
and always felt my mother was unfairly persecuting me when she would bring up the
subject for discussion. She helped me find my way into treatment by way of a
wonderful program, which has become a welcomed way of life for me. She helped
me realize that, for me, there is not sobriety in my life, but life in my sobriety. All
that my mother ever wanted for me was for me to be happy, and she knew, for me,
I must be sober in order to be happy. The greatest gift I have given to my mother
upon her death is for her to know she has a clean and sober son, who is working his
way in a positive direction in his journey of life.
My mother was a dear, sweet woman, and I loved her greatly. I am grateful that
she is no longer in any pain, which she had endured for the last few years of her life
due to rheumatoid arthritis. She certainly didn‟t deserve such a fate, but I have
learned that life is neither fair nor unfair – it just is. I know she understood this as
well, and accepted her fate as luck of the draw.
Although certainly not religious, I am very spiritual today, and know my mother will
always be with me in some form or another, and will be there to help me with my
GOD – that is to say, G. O. D. – Good, Orderly Direction.
I will remember her fondly for the rest of my life.
And finally, here is a short reading for all of us. It is consistent with my mom‟s
general philosophy about moving through life, and I like it.
This is from Timeless Wisdom by Karen Casey:
Letting go is a process that is seldom easy. For many, its meaning is elusive. How do
we "let go"? Letting go means removing our attention from a particular experience or
person and putting our focus on the here and now. We hang on to the past, to past
hurts, but also to past joys. We have to let the past pass. The struggle to hang on to
it, any part of it, clouds the present. You can't see the possibilities today is offering if
your mind is still drawn to what was.
Letting go can be a gentle process. Our trust in our higher power and our faith that
good will prevail, in spite of appearances, eases the process. And we must let each
experience end, as its moment passes, whether it is good or bad, love or sorrow. It
helps to remember that all experiences contribute to our growth and wholeness. No
experience will be ignored by the inner self who is charting our course. All are parts
of the journey. And every moment has a gentle end, but no moment is forgotten.
My journey today is akin to yesterday's journey and tomorrow's too. I will savor each
moment and be ready for the next.
6. George Harper - recounting
GEORGE HARPER: My brother and I would like to thank Father Carlson for making
the arrangements to have it where you could come here today. You all don‟t really
know how lucky you are that he could exercise such divine intervention because if it
had been up to the organizational abilities of myself and my brother, we might be in
a tobacco warehouse right now.
My mother passed very peacefully, very painlessly, and very quietly. She ignored
the poet‟s advice and she did go “gently into that good night”. But that‟s not how
she lived her life; not at all.
Many people here never knew her when she was younger in her prime; I think the
best introduction to the way she was, was given by a lawyer who is no longer young;
his name is Joe - Joe Gibson. He is a lawyer in Upper Marlboro, where my mother
raised cane many, many times. And he knew her when she was younger. A couple
of months ago he was inquiring after her, and he said, “Your mother was a rabble
rouser!” And he was right! She was a mover, she was a shaker, she was a
troublemaker, and everyone who met her was very lucky to have done so; she made
their lives much richer.
And it was because of her many good qualities she had; her rightness about her.
One was never in doubt as to what position she was taking; her many friends never
doubted what she stood for. She was very sincere in her beliefs. She was a strong
advocate for them, but only for things that she believed in.
She had a great deal of independence of thought, as Father Carlson has said – she
was a free thinker. She was very receptive to new ideas, and that was important in
those decades of the sixties and the seventies, when she was in her prime.
She brought a great deal of credibility to her personality from her many
accomplishments; she was a very accomplished woman.
She was born in twenty-nine, and by fifty-one she had received a Bachelor of
Science degree at Dalhousie University; it wasn‟t in canoeing, it was in Geology. She
was working on her Masters degree in Geology when she met and married my father.
In the early nineteen-seventies, just for fun, she decided she was going to learn
Russian. And she did, she poured herself completely into learning Russian. She
would stay up late at night learning to read and write Russian. She may have been
anticipating an alternative ending to the Cold War; we really don‟t know.
But shortly after that, she decided she would learn computer programming and she
self-taught herself computer programming. She learned machine language; all those
zeroes and ones that machines use to communicate (some people are nodding;
some people have some idea of what I‟m talking about). She learned that back in
the seventies when the Internet was just a dream of Al Gore‟s at the time. She was
right at the cutting-edge; she learned that very difficult species of computer
programming and she went to work for Computer Sciences where she worked for
twenty years as a computer scientist. And we would see her late at night -
sometimes early morning hours - poring over reams of paper with nothing but zeroes
and ones on them! And she could track all those zeroes and ones and write, and tell
the computer what to do.
She was an artist. She wasn‟t merely mathematical, she was very artistic. Holidays
were filled with projects, papier-mache, colored paper. She painted murals on my
brother‟s walls; a story about a tailor, a giant, and some sort of medieval romance,
swatting flies – I can‟t remember what it was, but it told a story on all four walls.
So, she was very artistic.
She was an accomplished grandmother. She loved her grandkids; she got a big kick
out of them. When her oldest grandkid was only two or two-and-a-half, and Olivia
decided that it was time for everybody to do their exercises, grandma did as she was
told, and she marched along with Olivia, lay down on the floor and did her sit-ups, as
she was told.
She knew that her role as a grandmother was to provide her grandkids with the
things that they couldn‟t get at home, namely candy and television. She gave them
plenty of it.
When it became obvious to everyone that Carolyn looked so much like her (such a
spitting image of her) that we began to call her “Little Pearl,” she said, “No, Carolyn‟s
too pretty,” which, of course, was false-modesty that was part of her charm.
She, in those days, had a sincere desire (that she acted out) to make a difference in
other people‟s lives. I remember several occasions where - and I don‟t know how
these people came to her; I don‟t know whether she sought them out, or they
sought her out, but - she would help young mothers (often unwed mothers) find
apartments, or a house. She would help them make ends meet. My brother and I
went on forced marches trying to help them move. And, this was more than merely
an ideal for her, this was something that she wanted to practice, so she didn‟t wait
for an organization to take care of these people, she acted on her own. And very
often she was a maverick; that was part of her charm. I think it had something to
do with her own personal history.
She was one of five children, but they were all separated when she was eleven,
through circumstances beyond her control. When she was sixteen, she was taken
into the home of George Aubrey Chudleigh (a dentist in Halifax) and Bertha
Chudleigh, and George and Bertha raised her from the age of sixteen on. She
became the son that he never had; he took her fishing; he took her sailing. She
kept the hip wader boots that they used to wade into the streams for years and
years and years; they hung up in the garage. He took her – rescued her! He sent
her to college (Dalhousie University); he sent her to grad school; he made all the
difference in her life! And I think she carried throughout the rest of her life the idea
that individuals really can make differences (on large scales) in other people‟s lives.
She wasn‟t willing to wait for other people to make that difference; she took it upon
herself to do it.
She told Geoffrey and me over and over again as many, many times as she could
that it wasn‟t just enough to help people, and it wasn‟t just enough to tolerate other
people, that all people were people. This was a belief that she acted upon; she had
a strong sense of social justice that many of her friends became familiar with in her
various activities. She made us understand as often as she could what the
significance of The Civil Rights Movement was in the sixties. And this was during a
period when these ideas were not popular - in the late sixties/early seventies when
Geoffrey and I were in our formative years. She was ahead of the curve on many of
these issues and she was very receptive to new ideas. She was in league with The
Age of Aquarius, so to speak. She took us kids to anti-war rallies, to peace
demonstrations. She really embraced the whole philosophy of that “Age of
Aquarius.” She was extremely interested in all the new philosophies and the new
ideas that were racing around at that time.
We went camping at Assateague very often during that time period. And this wasn‟t
backcountry camping, but this was pretty primitive camping. There weren‟t many
facilities around, and we were at the beach, and there were horseflies, and there
weren‟t many toilets around, and it was pretty primitive. But she loved it. She had
some fishermen in her family. In fact, her brother later became a fisherman, fished
for forty years (Halifax, Nova Scotia, of course, is a seaport); there was fish in the
blood. And she loved the ocean, so she‟d take us on walks at night. Well, at that
campsite in Assateague there was a VW Bus full of hippies that came to park very
close to us. When the hippies came (of course this is the early seventies, nobody
was really interested, the other campers weren‟t interested in these hippies) she
invited them over to the campfire! They brought their long hair and their acoustic
guitar and we sang songs (you know: peace, love; that sort of thing) and for a brief
moment in my life I felt “cool.” She was the kind of person who was extremely
receptive to these new ideas.
During that time, growing up in her household was very exciting to be around her,
because you had the feeling you were on the cutting-edge. Some of the friends who
are here remember the parties that she would have. These were basically political
parties, and groups that she belonged to would come over, they would have
discussions, wide-ranging discussions on all issues of the day: The Viet Nam War,
The Civil Rights Movement. And I used to linger as often as I could to listen to this
because it was really very exciting; it was like being in a Periclean Athens, or a
Medicean Florence, or watching the whole Scottish Enlightenment befall before you.
And that‟s how I felt, that I was in the presence of somebody who really was at the
cutting-edge, and it was extremely exciting.
She spent most of her time at home, not lecturing us, but really educating us. She,
while doing her housework, would speak to us about the issues of the day, and these
new ideas. She was engaging us constantly. She was a teacher at home, and I‟m
very grateful to her for that.
She placed a premium on independence of thought; she was always careful to
remind us that the popular idea is not always the right idea. She didn‟t claim any
originality of thought, but she did place a premium on us standing for what we
believed in and then deciding on our own what we believed in.
One of the important ideas that she inculcated in us (and she thought this was very
important) was to question authority. If she were a bumper sticker type person,
that‟s what her bumper sticker would read: “Question Authority.” She told us a lot
about her beliefs in Civil Disobedience. Of course she took us down to The Mall for
the demonstrations. She always had books like Thoreau‟s Civil Disobedience around,
she had Bertrand Russell around, and the latest (my brother mentioned Pentagon
Papers). If there was a book on the injustices that our government committed upon
the Indians (Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee) she would be the first on the block to
have that, and the only one on the block to have that book around.
She spoke out against that war as often as she could; this was an important passion
of hers, and we heard about it every day. If she were here today, she would say
that… well, she would be extremely angry at the policies of our president, Dick
Cheney. She would tell us that before we export democracy to Iraq, we should
export it to Florida. She would ask how our oil got under their sand.
She had a very interesting way of thinking about things. You had to pay attention
when you were growing up in her household. We took some trips across country; we
went out west a couple of times. Of course, when you go out west you pass through
mountains and mountain passes, and, every once-in-a-while an engineer gets tired
of a switchback and he just cuts right through the mountain. And so, of course you
have… to the right and the left you‟ll have huge rock formations. Of course, she was
a geologist. So you had to be paying attention because she would tell you all about
the rock formations and she would tell you, “Look! Look, see the sedimentary layers?
See them – like a wedding cake.” And she would tell you about the theory of
Superposition. She would say, “The older sedimentary layers are at the bottom; the
younger ones are at the top because you can‟t build a wedding cake from the top
down.” She would tell you about Ockham's razor. You know, a lot of parents – they
tell their children about folk wisdom, like “the moss grows on the north side of the
trees.” Well, she would tell you about a fourteenth-century philosophical principle
that you can‟t multiply the causes beyond that which is necessary to explain the
effects. And this principle – she referred to it frequently – she would actually use it
in public. She told us that if you‟re going to understand politicians (and this was her
passion, to understand politicians), and if you want to understand whether they‟re
acting as altruists, or in their own self-interest; if you could explain what they do in
their own self-interest, well, that‟s all you need to know. She called it "The Principle
of the Gored Ox" and she would tell us about this all the time. She would say,
“Follow the money” whenever we were listening (as Geoffrey pointed out) to The
She gave us, with all her time and attention, a way of looking at the world, for which
I am grateful, and did her best to make sure that we understood that she loved us
and cared about how we developed as human beings. And I hope I‟ve conveyed a
sense of what it was like to grow up in her household, and to be lucky enough to
have known her.
She gave me a book of poems. It‟s the only book of poems that I know that she
approved of, outside of William Blake (and that would be too dangerous to read in
this building). But, this book is by John Masefield who was a poet laureate from
England, and it does express a great deal of what she believed. I‟ll only read the last
I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.
7. Bob Carlson - contributions (invitation)
BOB CARLSON: And now I‟d like you all to make your contribution. Not quite as
long as that, but, maybe one thing, or one memory that really strikes you about
Pearl that you‟d like to share with the rest of us at this time.
8. Mark Jeschke - contribution
MARK JESCHKE: I‟ll say a few words. I‟m a friend of George‟s; I grew up knowing
George. Met him one night when he started college. So, I had Pearl… George had
prepared me for the first evening at his house. He said I‟ll probably be grilled like a
“Watergater”. So I went into the house – went into the kitchen and Mrs. Harper was
sitting at the table having coffee; I think she was smoking at the time. So, I sat
down and said “Hello,” and George immediately decided it would be appropriate to
leave the room at that point. He was gone for about half-an-hour. And during that
time Mrs. Harper kept asking questions about the local politics and national politics,
and since we were just starting school, we were real versed in Plato‟s Meno so I was
two-thousand years further back, and I tried to hold my own for half and hour until
he came back, and we went off to do whatever we did. Then the point of the story
really is that at that moment I think I found with Mrs. Harper that, it wasn‟t so much
the grilling (which I really was kind of afraid of), but it was the sense of caring that
she had. And, over the last thirty years, I have felt it every time I‟ve seen her. So,
that‟s my recollection.
9. Margo Vollmer - contribution
MARGO VOLLMER: Hi, I‟m Margo. And this is my husband, Tom.
BOB CARLSON: We‟ve been trying to record this, so try to project a little bit
towards the microphone…
MARGO VOLLMER: Okay, my name‟s Margo Vollmer, and thanks to Pearl, my name
is Margo Vollmer. I‟ve known Pearl for over thirty-five years, and she was
responsible for introducing us. They – Tom and Pearl worked together, and Pearl
and I worked. We‟ve been married now, thanks to Pearl, for… it will be 24 years.
And I‟ll miss her.
10. Betty Crowley - contribution
BETTY CROWLEY: I‟m Betty Crowley; I‟ve known Pearl since the mid-sixties, in the
Mental Health Association. Pearl, as you all heard, believed in everything very
strongly. Well, the Mental Health Association was too narrow for her, so she tried to
change us, and she did a very powerful job getting us involved in every social justice
issue from school desegregation to free housing to landlord/tenant; anything in that
avenue, that she thought was important.
But one of her interesting stories is she didn‟t know a whole lot about the mentally
ill, so she went to Spring Grove Hospital. That tour of the hospital showed her how
people can be so inhumanely treated. So, she came home and decided to legislate.
So, she researched it; she came up with the facts and figures like: the animals in the
local animal hospital had air conditioning and, per day, were getting more than
people in the mental hospitals. She went to Annapolis, she went to the county, and
she used these facts and figures over and over (as Royal can testify to); she was
involved in everything.
Not only did I become a close friend of hers, but, when I got married here at
Nativity, she insisted that she make my dress because, not only was she tireless, she
was a seamstress! And, she was a perfectionist. As I was almost walking up the
aisle she was trying to remake the dress!
And, as you talked to her in recent years, she was such a C-SPAN junkie! You‟d call
her up, and “Did you watch this?” “No, I didn‟t.” And I would hear the whole
dissertation and then we‟d have to debate it.
She‟s a person who really made a difference. Not only to us as individuals who were
friends, but to society, because she did the things that no one else would get into,
and force the rest of us to follow her. And so, I think we‟ll never ever forget the
effect that Pearl had on us.
11. Ruth Harper-Axelrod - contribution
RUTH HARPER-AXELROD: My name is Ruth Harper-Axelrod and I‟m Pearl‟s niece.
I‟d like to tell you a story that is in part fact, and that is in part fantasy, but it is for
me; it is psychological truth. I thought of the kind of things that I‟d like to say, and,
they got all jumbled together, and I said, “You know, I can‟t figure this out,” so I‟ll
go with this little story. And it‟s one of the earliest memories of my life when my
family lived in Calcutta.
Uncle Don and Aunt Pearl came back from… came through from Sumatra, and we
were going to go to the airport and we were going to see them for a few hours. I
don‟t remember that meeting, I don‟t even remember whether my brother Steve was
born yet, I don‟t remember whether George was there, but what I do remember was
the excitement of a little child, getting up in the middle of the night to go to the
airport. And I remember the long ride in the taxi, and I remember the lights at the
airport rising around in that typical pattern that now we all (as adults) know. And
we met them there and I don‟t remember that meeting. But they gave me a
present. And when I was thinking about what to say, how I recall; mentally I
happened to walk into my living room. And there at the end of that living room,
under the credenza, was this present. And it‟s the only think that I‟ve had for all of
my life. Everything else has come and gone, and I still have this. So, I‟ve been a
good teacher; I brought it from home to show you!
These are Indonesian Shadow Puppets. This one is Rama, the hero of Hindu legend;
the perfect man. And this is Ravana, who was his enemy. Now, Rama had a wife,
Sita, whom he loved, and Ravana stole Sita and took her to Ceylon, now called Sri
Lanka. And Rama, with the help of the monkey king, Rama and the monkeys went
and rescued Sita.
And yesterday, when I was looking at these statues I thought, “Hmm… Why did she
give me Rama and Ravana? Why not Rama and Sita?” And I thought about it, and I
don‟t know what the truth is; perhaps these were the only two left in the store! But
then I thought, “Who was Sita? As Rama was the perfect man, Sita was the perfect
woman.” And in ancient India, that meant that she was an utterly obedient and
submissive wife. And it was not in Aunt Pearl‟s soul to set up such a woman as a
role model for her niece!
So I honor many things in my memory of her. I honor Don and Pearl for taking me
in when I was hurt and wounded after a painful divorce. I honor them for many
memories, but in particular, I honor the warrior.
12. Steve Harper - contribution
STEVE HARPER: I‟m Steve Harper, and I was Aunt Pearl‟s nephew.
And I was thinking about things that were said here today about her. And I
remember an experience being ten years old, and coming to visit their house, and
walking into the kitchen, and seeing this white phone on the wall that had a twenty-
foot phone cord that was completely stretched out. It was scalded in several places.
I couldn‟t figure this out until the next morning when it was time for breakfast. My
Aunt Pearl was on the phone, taking breakfast orders from ten people, talking
continuously, cooking everything, and getting everything right. And it struck me
that here was a person who was passionately involved in the community, in local
politics (I think she was involved in Prince George‟s politics at that time) and yet
took the time to take care of not only her own family, but my family who were
coming as visitors. And that combination of care for her community and care for her
own family is something that I‟ll always remember about her.
13. Susima Abeyagunawardene - contribution
SUSIMA ABEYAGUNAWARDENE: I‟m not a public speaker, but I have to tell you
how much I loved Pearl! She had befriended my sister and myself and we admired
her very much! So, today, we are sad that she‟s no longer with us. But we are
happy that we got the opportunity of meeting her, and to know what a wonderful
person she was! That‟s all I can say; I will remember her fondly, from her sons,
thank you. And I will remember this day for the rest of my life. Thank you.
14. Bob Carlson - about tears and celebration
BOB CARLSON: Yes, tears – tears - you know, this way you‟re celebrating Pearl‟s
life today… but still there has to be sadness as part of that, and the tears are part of
it, and, so if you get up and cry, don‟t be embarrassed, because that‟s… there is that
sadness of loss as well as the celebration of a wonderful friend, a wonderful life.
15. Beth Carlson - contribution
BETH CARLSON: My memories of Pearl go back…
BOB CARLSON(humorous interjection): Who are you?
BETH CARLSON: Oh! I‟m Beth Carlson, sorry. My memories of Pearl go back to the
sixties, because our children were the same age as George (Joey, as they use to call
him) was the same age as my oldest child, and Geoffrey was the same age as my
youngest child. And, so, I remember Pearl mostly because we were young mothers
together. And, we sort of supported each other; we were part of a support group
because those were primitive, hard years for us. I remember her as a true friend,
and I knew that - unfortunately we moved away in seventy-six and so I didn‟t get to
continue my friendship with her up to the end, because by the time we came back,
they had moved again. But, my husband and I often used to say to each other,
“Pearl” (although she doesn‟t consider herself a Christian) “is the most Christian
person we know!” Her behaviour – her behaviour was absolutely, exactly what you
would want of a Christian, and she was… I just can‟t say any more, but we always
thought that she was one of the best people that we knew… really!
16. Bill Crowley - contribution
BILL CROWLEY: One of the things I remember particularly (I‟m Bill Crowley) is,
going over to Don and Pearl‟s house, and playing a little bit of Bridge, and I always
remember that Pearl would not partner with Don or Betty. And, so, I always wound
up being her partner, and I wonder if in later years if she ever got around to partner
with Don playing Bridge. But, the table was always full of a multitude of snacks and
beverages – you couldn‟t get away without eating your fill of everything. And she
was a vicious Bridge player! And I don‟t think she ever did anything halfway. It was
a pleasure. Thanks.
17. Royal Hart - contribution
ROYAL HART: My name is Royal Hart, and, I knew Pearl through two different
associations. One, I recall (me, not nearly as… as much as Pearl was!), in the Mental
Health Association, but also because she was a very hard worker in the political
arena. If she thinks of her… thought of herself as an agnostic, then maybe she
would have been comfortable in my church, which is Unitarian. We‟re agnostics too,
for the most part. It‟s not that we don‟t pray, but that our prayers begin with, or
direct: “To whom it may concern.”
BOB CARLSON(humorous interjection): He hears those, he hears those anyway…
ROYAL HART: But, she probably didn‟t do devotionals (as we commonly think of
that) with a church, but she was certainly a devoted person to the things she
believed in, and she believed in (I think) all of the right things. Today, in Annapolis,
there are… there‟s an army of well-paid, over-paid special-interest lobbyists. My
mind is in Annapolis thirty years ago (more than that now). Pearl would get more
work done by herself, on her own, than a whole army of lobbyists can today.
Because you can trust her, you could believe what she had to say, you knew that she
had researched it, she knew all of the information, the facts, and she was not
representing any special-interest, she was not getting paid for doing this, she was
doing it because she strongly believed in it, and she was very, very effective.
18. Ken Ewing - contribution
KEN EWING: My name is Ken Ewing. My wife Barbara and I are good friends with
George and Janet. We didn‟t know Pearl. And, as I was sitting here listening to
everyone talk about her, I really wish I had. Then, it suddenly occurred to me, in a
lot of ways I do know her, because we know George very well. And George reflects
a lot of what I‟ve heard Pearl was. And, to me, this is probably one of the greatest
things a parent can give their child: the proper feelings towards people, concern
about human beings, all things I‟ve heard that Pearl was interested in. So, basically,
I‟m sorry I never met her, I‟m glad to know George and Janet, and I‟m here to pay
19. Bob Carlson - litany of thanks (instruction)
BOB CARLSON: If everyone has had his or her say, I‟d like now for you to join with
me in a… in a kind of litany of thanksgiving, and it begins with a kind of generic
prayer (so Unitarians don‟t need to be worried about this). What I‟d like you to do,
is to say something like this: “For Pearl‟s commitment to important issues in our
society”, or “For Pearl‟s” whatever, you know, just say that. And then the rest of us
will join in: “We give thanks.” Is that clear? And we‟ll just go around until it‟s
exhausted, then what I would like you to do would be to join me with in (probably
one of the more generic Christian prayers) The Lord‟s Prayer, and then, a brief
prayer of committal. Okay? Let us pray. I‟ll start it off…
20. All - litany of thanks
VARIOUS AND ALL: For Pearl‟s commitment to important issues in our society, we
give thanks. For Pearl‟s love of family, we give thanks. For Pearl‟s belief in
tolerance, we give thanks. For Pearl‟s friendship, we give thanks. For Pearl‟s
dedication to those in need, we give thanks. For a lovely friendship, we give thanks.
For Pearl‟s joie de vivre, we give thanks. For Pearl‟s making a difference, we give
thanks. For Don and her family‟s support of Pearl in those difficult last years, we
give thanks. For the love that she engendered in the world, we give thanks. For her
beautiful children and grandchildren, we give thanks. For all the efforts she made;
getting her children through college in the midst of several careers, we give thanks.
21. All - The Lord's Prayer
BOB CARLSON: Now, let us pray for others, by saying: “Our Father,”
ALL: who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be
done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us
our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into
temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and
the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
22. Bob Carlson - go in peace
BOB CARLSON: Oh God, we commend to you the soul of our sister Pearl departed.
In gratitude for what she gave to us, and offering our lives to follow (as best we can)
her example of love, and caring, and compassion. That we may honor her memory
in our lives, and all through. In your name, we pray. Amen. Go in peace.
23. Bob Carlson - closing
BOB CARLSON: One final word. You‟re all invited to George‟s house for some
refreshments immediately after the service. There are maps that George can
provide if you need to get there. But you‟re all invited to come and join with the
family in some refreshments after. And I‟m grateful for all of you and your
wonderful contributions to this service. It was no work for me at all, really.