Russell Reymann’s Eulogy
from his brother Louis Reymann
Good morning. I’m Russell’s brother Loo-Eye. When we were young Russell called me Loo-Eye because he couldn’t say Louis. Nevertheless, I’m a lucky guy because my six sisters are always available to tell me what to do and when to do it, sometimes I even ask for their advice. Recently I asked one of them about what I should include in this eulogy and she told me to “Forget the script, just speak from the heart!”
Well, while thinking about it, my Guardian Angel tapped me on the shoulder and said Loo-Eye… 80+ years ago your grandparents owned the land beneath St. Mathews and the last thing you wanna do is to have them turn over in their graves cuz some words came out of your heart that should never be said in any church, so I’m gonna refer to my script. On behalf of Russell’s family, I thank you all for being here to help us honor the memory of our brother.
Together we share both the joy Russell gave us, and the pain that his passing brings. In sharing the joy and the pain together today, may we lessen the pain and remember more clearly the joy. Before we celebrate Russell’s life…….a life I now prefer to call the missing earthly link in the chain called Marcel and Linda’s progeny ……I’d like to take a few moments and recognize the extraordinary Christian-focused achievements of six family members that are still amongst us.
Of mom and dad’s eight children, Russell was unique in many ways; one way was that for the past 23 years after our parents died, Russell lived in a different but equally loving and nurturing family: the family of our sister Marcia Lynn’s son, Steven and his wife Janice who lovingly cared for Russell’s every need 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year for 23 years. Through their family, Russell also had an additional brother, Andrew, and three more sisters, Katie, Melissa, and Som…… and also a cat named Penguin.
If all seven of Russell’s siblings came up here and shared their heartfelt appreciation for what Steven and Janice’s family has done in providing Russell the best of care for the past TWENTY-THREE years, we probably wouldn’t get out of here until sometime after breakfast tomorrow. Please rise, put your hands together and join Father McCann, Father Mike and me in a robust round of applause for all they have done in caring and nurturing Russell.
As I look out at the Reymanns and friends of the family who are gathered here today, I see skilled crafts persons, healthcare professionals, care givers, community leaders, college graduates, military veterans, business leaders, teachers, and folks who’ve earned high professional positions. All of us are here to recognize someone who never matched any of these noteworthy accomplishments. However, after all is said and done, though Russell didn’t garner any of these accomplishments, we’re here to bear witness that Russell was very special; quite simply Russell was a gift from God.
Through this gift we’ve learned to care for others whether they were down the street, across town, across the country, in the jungles of Guatemala, or anywhere else.
And like all other special gifts Russell wasn’t hidden from the view of others in our basement or closets nor did our parents accept invitations that did not include Russell to the birthday parties of our playmates. Gifts are easily recognized because they usually arrive all wrapped up in pretty paper and bows on our birthdays, at weddings, on our anniversaries, or under a Christmas tree. Some gifts, however, are difficult to recognize because they don’t LOOK like what we expected. But when we look closely, we find some of these gifts were indeed very, very special and in fact – if we’re really lucky – such gifts have a lasting impact on our lives. Russell was just such a very special gift. He had the child-like innocence of a five-year-old cleverly hidden in the male pigheadedness that every woman throughout the Reymann bloodline – either by birth or marriage – will surely recognize.
I’d like to share with you just one example of Russell’s child-like innocence. To fully appreciate this story please remember that Grandma and Grandpa had 16 children. Therefore, it’s clear we Reymanns believe that creating children is almost an art form. 60+ years ago, Russell told me about his very unique approach to family planning. He proudly told me that he was gonna marry a girl named Nancy from the Sheltered Workshop. At least I think that was her name. Being the supportive brother that I was, I asked him if he was gonna have a family. He didn’t quite understand what I was asking. So I came right out and asked him if he was going to have children. He kinda ducked his head down and avoided looking at me and said, “Yes”. Then I asked the BIG QUESTION, “How ya gonna do that?” He continued to look away and said sheepishly, “You know.” I prodded further and told him “No I don’t know, how?” Clearly annoyed that I was nagging him, he turned and looked at me and pointedly said with conviction “MOM will make ‘em for me.”
Through the Reymann Foundation, God’s gift of Russell has impacted countless others for more than five decades. The Summit County Council of Retarded Children, co-founded by our parents, has progressed through many changes over the past seventy-three years into what is now the Developmental Disabilities Board of Summit County and through this Board God’s gift of Russell will continue to impact generations yet unborn. With Russell’s passing, our family chain is now missing yet another earthly link but once the last of us is called to the arms of the Lord our family’s chain will be whole once again and for all eternity.
LOOK TO HEAVEN. Russell, until we are all together, you will not be forgotten. Your memory as a precious gift from God is seared in our hearts because, in MANY respects you are the author of what we are today.
Carol Louise Recker’s Memories of Russell Reymann
At home Russell was very co-operative and obedient…..at the “workshop” I understand that he was “a pistol” and liked to drink coffee and not tend to his “job”.
In the 40’s and early 50’s, when we lived on Whittier, he would ride his adult tricycle up to the corner of Madison and Delia avenues and just sit a while and watch the cars. (How interesting that in those days that was considered an OK activity for him. Not now-a-days, it wouldn’t be considered safe.)
Also, when Russell was older and we lived on Nome Ave., he would spend a good bit of his time at his desk in his and Louis’ room doing what he called his “work”. Painstakingly he would make lines with a pencil on recycled old fashioned computer paper that was supplied by one of his brothers-in-law. He always was quite satisfied with his end product. I can visualize him sitting there in deep concentration making those lines. It gave him a great deal of satisfaction.
It is interesting, my memory holds only peaceful memories of Russell at home. I have no recollection of him being a “troublemaker” or being involved in sibling rivalry. Sitting here reminiscing warms my soul and fills me with gratitude.
Here comes a VERY special memory. The year must have been in the 70’s or 80’s. The location is our living room on Nome Ave. Father Al (Fr. Albert Reymann, Maryknoll missionary) was home from Guatemala and visiting us. He was planning to have Mass for us there in the living room. We had asked a neighboring family to join us.
Mass started and we Reymanns tried to sing an entrance hymn. Russell slipped out of the room and went upstairs to his bedroom to get his guitar. He rejoined us and quietly started strumming it and also singing unintelligible words while the rest of us sang the tune.
My God!!! You talk about a moment of pure innocence and tenderness. WE were all deeply moved and REALLY felt God’s love and presence through Russell.
Dad and Russell always went to the contemporary Mass at St. Sebastian’s so Russell thought that our home Mass needed a guitar. So, he supplied it.