Today, October 17, 2018, would have been the 80th birthday of my lifelong close friend, Willard Lutz. As it was, he only got to spend 76 years here on this mortal coil. I was able to find a copy of the eulogy that I read for him at a memorial service for Will by his three children, Travor, Todd, and Tanya, held on June, 2014 at the Lafayette Hotel in Marietta, Ohio. Will is one of those friends who helped to define me, as I helped to define him, and so a part of me has gone to the other side with Will.
You Are Always in My Heart
A Eulogy for Willard Ben Lutz
by Jim Andris
You towered over me in P.E.
At the playing field’s edge.
Looking down on Marietta,
Making small talk,
We bonded in the eighth grade,
Two lonely boys
Not at all interested in sports.
And soon there were more—
We stood around in study hall
And introduced ourselves:
Mariam and Will,
Jim and Dee.
Eventually there were
Eight for a Date:
Myra, Sylvia, Beebe and Frances.
We sat in drive-ins
in Mariam’s bright red Chevrolet convertible
and consumed piles of french fries and burgers
and gallons of coke.
Myra wrote down the title
Of every song we heard on the car radio
In spiral-ring steno notebooks.
We started having theme parties:
A treasure hunt at Willard’s,
A Halloween party at Mariam’s,
A Hawaiian Luau at Sylvia’s.
But these were too tame for us,
So we started playing tricks on each other.
Will scared Frances by steering her car—
Which she thought was driver- and brakeless—
Down a country lane.
A car full of crazy teenagers
Executed a perfect “murder” out in the country
For Mariam, whom Willard had strategically positioned
In the back seat of a car on Stanleyville Road.
Will almost talked Mariam into calling the sheriff.
But then Jim’s mom, in on the deal, stopped it.
Then we went too far.
Will, Mariam and Jim
Staged a UFO abduction for Dee, Myra and Frances.
We really did scare them.
Brave Dee ran beside me,
And really thought I had been “taken over.”
We laughed so hard we peed ourselves
But Myra cried and Dee quaked
And Frances never spoke to us again.
We eased up.
But not on our friendships.
We were our own extended family.
We went to different colleges.
We chose assorted careers.
We married different people.
We raised our own families.
Each of us in our own way
Had our successes and failures.
But as the years melted away
Each person in my ragtag band of outliers
Was always in my heart
And only a phone call away.
We visited when we could
And held several reunions
Over the years and decades.
No one of these was closer to me than Will Lutz.
I’ll bet I know him as well as anyone on the planet.
We talked a lot on the phone as we went through life.
Will did not have a mean bone in his body.
He sincerely wished to help others, and he frequently did.
Yet he was his own person, too,
And he did his best to be true to himself.
He worried too much about making things right for everybody.
Yet that was Will; caring, loving.
He so loved a good story,
And never tired of telling these tales
—some of them tall and a bit embroidered
—over and over again.
Each telling was delivered with
Will’s characteristic enthusiasm,
just as he told wonderful tales
About his family and friends, his loves.
I never dreamed I would loose him so soon.
But he knew I loved him, of that I am sure.
My heart aches at his loss.
I will miss him so much.
Rest in peace, Willard, you did good.