A smile which pushes a tear from a mourner's eye is perhaps the best eulogy any of us can hope for when we pass from this life. Today, Harry S. Culver received many such eulogies. Many sweet stories of Harry's life were shared during his funeral service -- so many that the service lasted an hour and a half.
Among the mourners were countless Oklahoma journalists and politicians, including former Gov. George Nigh. Gathered was a rainbow of people who ranged in age from children to Harry's mother-in-law, who is 101 or 102.
Harry was 82 at his passing. He and his wife were married in September of 1945. That's nearly 60 years, folks. That's true love.
Harry's family was seated all together -- black, white, young or old, it made no difference. Harry saw only loving and loved souls, not color or station.
Harry's service pointed out what a mosaic our lives are. Each of us knew Harry. Many of us knew others in the crowd, in different settings. The facets of our connections are like the facets of a gem, creating depth, fire, clarity and color in our lives. Harry sparkled from the life he led.
I mentioned yesterday one story about Harry's plane being shot down. That was but one of four times during his military service that his plane was downed. He was a prisoner in Sweden after one incident.
Despite the demands on Capt. Culver during the war, Harry wrote daily long letters to the love of his life, Lee. Many of the letters were 10 to 12 pages long. Harry was what all journalists dream of being -- a thinker and a writer.
So many people spoke their memories of Harry -- a cousin who was more like a brother, a couple of friend/ministers, and his son David, a minister living in Kansas City. Each told the kind of stories that produced those smiles that made the eyes leak just a little.
The sweetest story was told by son David. He remembered Harry's fondness for reading the works Robert Louis Stevenson, as well as a poignant tale of Stevenson's childhood in the mid-1800s.
Stevenson, a somewhat sickly child, pressed his face against the glass of an upstairs window in his family's apartment.
"Child, step away from the glass before you catch your death of cold!" his mother exclaimed.
Stevenson continued his intent gaze, face contorted against the glass, straining to see a lamplighter at work on the street.
"But mother," he replied. "Come look! There's a man down there poking holes in the darkness!"
The same could be said of Harry. Both as a journalist and as a Christian strong in his faith, Harry Culver poked holes in the darkness of the human experience and let the light shine through.
His light and spirit will be missed.