So we sent Bernie Yudain off today

Huge funeral – I’m afraid that when I die my only mourners will be those attending just to make certain I’m dead but Bernie drew a crowd of hundreds, all friends, all people who loved him.

And it was a great remembrance for this astonishing, acerbic, kind man, mentor to so many. And we learned so many details! I knew Bernie was a kid in his 20’s when he served as a war-time correspondent in London, for instance, but his father was a cavalry officer for the Czar? Bernie never told me that!

What a man, what a tribute. 9/11 ruined funerals for me and I haven’t made it through one whole since, but I got all the way through this celebration of a great man’s life until the very end, when the minister announced that Bernie’s favorite hymn was Onward Christian Soldiers and the organ led us out on that hymn.

Pal Nancy knows that this is my favorite hymn, too, and has promised to conclude my funeral with it. When it started today, I lost it, but as a wonderful Jewish friend seated next to me pointed out when he saw my tears, every funeral needs a visible mourner. I may have a supplemental source of income here, attending funerals and weeping, no matter how joyous the rest of the congregation is. Rest in peace, Bernie.

(But if and when you do attend my funeral, know that “Onward” is to be sung with gusto! No namby-pamby organ like that accompanying the link above. I have sung this song as a celebration of life, once, long ago, with an Australian girl in Athens, when we were studying Plato under John Silber and going to the Plaka at night. After hours with the bouzouki players and barrels of wine we’d take the street car back to campus, singing this and Waltzing Matilda. These are, or should be, both songs of celebration and of life, not dirges. Remember that when I die, Clyde, would you?)


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10 responses to “So we sent Bernie Yudain off today

  1. Walt

    Dude Man –
    I will tread lightly here. As I always do. Bernie had a great run. He impacted many. In a positive way. I will sign up for a 91 year run right now. And if I am really honest, probably 86. The lawyers will have sucked all the cash away from me by then anyway.
    So I wish Bernie’s family all the best, I am saddened by their loss, and he will be missed from a journalistic perspective. He lived a wonderful, magnificent life. And had a positive impact on many. Which is all any of us can ask for.
    But he just wasn’t funny. At least in his columns. And no disrespect meant on my part. Maybe I missed the joke.
    As far as when it’s time to plant you 6′ feet under, don’t worry, I will be there with the 5 Fillys. We will cry, shed a tear, and hope they don’t have an accident. And we will miss you.
    You load.
    Your Pal,

  2. Peg

    Sorry for your loss, Chris.

    And – I’m with you on the tears. Happy or sad – if it matters, my waterworks flow.

  3. Anonymous

    That’s no namby-pamby organ playing in your link above, CF. It’s a good, strong piano playing the hymn just as it did in my Sunday school after church when we used to sing it every Sunday in a childrens’ service led by the church organist’s wife.

    Singing this hymn is the most stirring thing, and almost the only thing, that I remember about those services.

  4. Anonymous

    By the way, the church I attend, The Anglican Church of the Advent, Greenwich, CT is, as far as I know, the last one still using the old hymnal (as well as the 1928 prayer book) and by gum, we’re STILL singin’ Onward Christian Soldiers along with some swell tunes by Arthur Sullivan, etc. The “modern” hymnal has chucked all these truly great songs that stay with you the rest of the day as you swat golf balls or sell real estate. 606 Riversville Rd (at John Street), service at 9:00 AM.

  5. Ghost of Bernie

    Walt: with all due respect you are not so funny either. Hows Andreas doing with the Columbians and the boat? Updates please. G of BY

  6. greenmtnpunter

    I shed a tear just reading your account of Bernie’s send off. Few are the people in our lives who will make this kind of impact, you will no doubt fondly remember him often…and the more often you remember him, the more often you will realize just how big he was in your life…I have one or two who fit the Bernie Category, there are never many, as you would expect….Your funeral music choices, OCS, the stirring anthem, and Waltzing Matilda, more on the sad, sentimental ballad side….a nice contrast…well done….evoking tears from this mourner!

    • One of the most influential persons in my life. Oddly enough, so were two teachers at Eastern Junior High, Al Kent and David O’Brien, who I later realized were both gay, but each acted as mentor and a sounding board to me during a turbulent adolesence and into my college years during visits home. Great, life saving people come in all shapes and persuasions and if we’re lucky, we find some along our way.

  7. Trying...

    Just had to tell you that “Onward Christian Soldiers” is my barely-4 year old son’s favorite song. We sing it every single day in the car. Every. Single. Day. Since he was a barely-3 year old.

    Great minds think alike?

    So nice to meet you by the way-

  8. greenmtnpunter

    As a right wing B.U. alum, I’ve always been fascinated by John Silber. At first because he was so loathed by the left dominated faculty and students. I recall reading his book published, oh, must be 10-15 years ago in which he sets forth his conservative views from the perspective of a lifelong Democrat academic. Silber is what I call an old line, conservative Democrat, a sub-species that began to disappear post McGovern.

    As I was a student in the ’60’s, I don’t remember B.U. being dominated by anything other than the terribly chic left wing. The late Howard Zinn came the year before I did and immediately shot to superstar status on campus. My friends were eager to sign up for his courses because, in addition to the left wing romance and poetry, they had a reputation as ‘guts’. Gut courses, as CF has testified, were not at all Silber’s style as Howard came to discover in the early ’70’s when Silber rode into Dodge.

    I missed the confrontations between Howard and Silber but would read accounts in the left oriented Boston media, accounts slanted in Howard Zinn’s favor. Silber, as CF has pointed out, was a serious and capable teacher/ academic, and as President put B.U. on the academic map, eventually moving B.U. into the top tier of urban universities by the time he retired. It is my impression that John Silber’s impact and legacy at B.U. will be seen as far more important than the late Howard Zinn’s.