We Had Lunch

What follows are remarks by Walter Stormont from the Memorial Service for Ed De Boer, September 11, 2009 at the First Presbyterian Church in Bakersfield, California. These comments were followed by those of Ed’s nephew, Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, and his beloved daughter Valerie.

My friend and colleague Ed De Boer taught me many things.  Among them:
“Getting old is not for sissies.” Also…
“You’ve got to play by the rules.” And finally…
“Cats make the nicest little road-rugs.”

Well, I can’t say I agreed with him on everything.

The first time I met Ed De Boer was at a businessmen’s luncheon in 2001. I sat at the same table and waited for this animated gent to finish a somewhat lively discussion with another businessman. It was something about the other man’s orange trees and how they needed something called “Agri-Gro.” And how Ed could supply it to him. Well, I don’t think the fellow was convinced to try Agri-Gro, but no one at that table could say that the dashing Dutchman didn’t attack the windmill head-on.

Then we had lunch and exchanged business cards… and for the next eight years, Ed De Boer and I had lunch. Along the way we accomplished a number of things. We wrote a book. We had lunch. We started a radio show. We had lunch. We made speeches and held seminars. We had lunch. We met with organic farmers, local representatives, educators, bureaucrats, “Return to Eden” radio listeners, and anyone else we could reel in. And we had lunch.

We tried to publish the aforementioned book, called “First Heal the Soil”, and pretty much failed… but that didn’t stop us from having lunch… usually at the DoubleTree restaurant. When I arranged for people to meet us there, and they hadn’t met us before, my instinct was to tell them, “We’ll be in a side booth… Ed is the one talking and I’m the one typing.” But somehow they figured that out anyway. And we had lunch.

Ed was a generous and hospitable man. He always paid for the meals. He bought me the equipment I needed, he supplied me with good transportation in the form of his big comfy pickup, and he gave me Christmas bonuses, like this outfit I’m wearing today. Ed believed in being businesslike… and dressing the part. In January of 2006 we made a day- and-a-half whirlwind round-trip to St. Louis so Ed could be interviewed for a documentary film. I don’t think the film has been released, but Ed cut quite a figure strolling through the Phoenix airport in his fancy suit, overcoat and old-world hat… he was probably the best-dressed person there. This was important business… he had to act like it. And even though Ed’s legs were starting to fail him, he insisted on walking and not using a wheelchair.

We made our connections with little time to spare, but Ed De Boer stood tall. In recent years, he was proud to tell people that he had divorced his wheelchair and orphaned his cane. In fact, he lived up to that credo even near the end when I took him to his next-to-last visit to the Emergency Room of San Joaquin Hospital. A nurse offered Ed a wheelchair, but he wanted to stand behind it and push… the same way he got exercise by pushing his wheelchair around the garden. In that hospital last month, Ed wanted to stay on his feet and walk in on the same legs that had served him so well for so long… and through so much. He reluctantly sat down in the wheelchair.

I’ll never forget the sight of Ed as I would pull up to take him to a radio taping and/or lunch. The garage door would slowly grind open and then here emerged Ed from the darkness in his sunglasses and blue blazer, clutching a folder full of talking points — and the latest edition of Acres-USA — as he shuffled forward with determination. In fact, sometimes somehow, even though Ed moved slower than me. (Okay, Ed… slower than I.) I found myself jogging to keep up with him. It was the oddest phenomenon.

My friend Ed De Boer personified determination. He personified honor. He personified faith and a real concern for this troubled world. He had a deep love for his adopted country of the United States — the one the Founders founded — and an even deeper love for his family. He often talked of his daughter (my new sister) Valerie, the wonderful job Alida did of raising her, and how delighted he was that she and George have the best grandchildren one could hope for. I was so happy that we got to visit them the week before Ed went to the hospital. I’ll always remember Grandpa Eddie sitting in a chair chuckling as Rebecca and I played a Disney card game on the floor, under a unique set of rules. And then we had to go…

Ed, I’m sorry you had to go, but I’m so proud to have known you and worked with you. I know there are some things we still wanted to do, but you kept trying, my friend… you fought hard all the way.

And we had lunch.

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