James Egan
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His legacy
Marty's Eulology for Dad  

In the New Testament, St. Paul wrote:
"But we would not have you unaware, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. Therefore comfort one another with these words."

Until that time, celebrate with me the quiet, loving life of my father Jim.  He made a good accounting of himself.

In his teen years, my Dad, who was raised Roman Catholic, chose to attend a Seminary High School, which had a program to prepare young men for entry into a full-blown theological seminary.   Fortunately for me and my siblings, after completing the high school curriculum, he decided not to continue into the college program to become a priest.

For the next few years after high school, he tried a variety of jobs until he entered the Air Force in 1950.  In 1950, my Dad was posted with an intelligence unit in Germany.  After serving 4 years, he left the Air Force with an honorable discharge.  While in the Air Force, he developed a love for photography and linguistics.

Using the G.I. Bill, he entered Western Michigan University in 1954 and received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1959.  He met a beautiful nursing student named Cindy, who attended nearby Borgess Nursing School.   Mustering every bit of his courage and good sense, Jim asked Cindy to marry him; she agreed.  Their children, Chris, Ellie, Matt, and Marty, were born in 1960, 1962, 1963, and 1967.   While my Mom and Dad were busy raising and providing for their family, my Dad attended Case-Western Reserve University, where he completed his Ph.D.

In the early years of his career as an audiologist, he worked in teaching and private practice. In 1976 he found his niche at D.C. General Hospital, where he became the Director of the Speech and Hearing Clinic.  He ran a successful department that was one of the few to both provide public service, and make money for the hospital.  Being frustrated that hearing aids were too expensive for poor clients, he founded and nurtured a program to make them available at low cost for the poor.

After more than 20 years at D.C. General, he retired, but continued to work part-time in private practice. His health was beginning to decline, but he wanted to continue to provide for and secure a comfortable life for his wife after he died.   To that end, he worked at the Casey Clinic, a public health clinic at Alexandria Hospital.  There, he began establishing another program to provide low-cost hearing aids to the Casey Clinic's poor clients.

His first grandchild, Caitlin was born in 1997.  Never before had I seen him so outwardly joyful. His second grandchild, Sean, was born in 2002, and Dad was filled with joy again.  Dad poured out his love on his grandchildren until the very day he died.

My father accomplished many things in this world, and worked to provide a foothold in life to his children, to help them succeed.  He holds a Ph. D.  He is accomplished professionally.  His research and writings in audiology have been published in numerous professional journals.  He started and patiently nurtured programs to provide low-cost hearing aids to the financially disadvantaged.  Anywhere he could, he worked to serve others out of love, without seeking credit or payback.  And for his children, in his quiet, persistent way, he continually encouraged each of us to value and maintain our familial bonds.

My dad rarely spoke of his accomplishments, and when he did, he didn't boast about them as points of pride.   I like to say that he was the kind of person who just got behind the bus and pushed.  If life is a hard job, akin to pushing a stalled city bus up a long street, I see my Dad as the person straining behind the bus, pushing.  He never marked off how far he'd gone, nor how far he had to go, nor asked others to slap his back and tell him how well he'd done.  He just kept "pushing the bus", while quietly giving. 

My Dad would help me with my morning paper route in wet and snowy weather.  Some days, I might have suggested it was raining when it wasn't, but he would still get up and help.

Saturday mornings in Springfield, Dad and I would run weekly errands, and he'd take me to 7-11 for a burrito and I'd buy a comic book with my allowance.  To me, it was a time to have a secret treat with my Dad.

My Dad built the deck in our backyard with help from us kids. I jealously watched my brothers when I was too young.  Once I was old enough, it was a special privilege to learn while we built it.

Dad, though your time here is complete, it was a job well done. 

Thank you for joining me here to celebrate my Dad's life.  Don't mourn, he's only fallen asleep.  I miss you, but I'll see you later, Dad.

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