Eulogy For My Dad Jerry Lee Hawver – The Man Who Shaped The Woman I Am Today

My dad left behind his dementia and this world last Friday, September 1, 2023. I was with him through the night and into the morning when he passed. I love him so much. This is my eulogy for him that I’ll be reading on Saturday.

What I will always remember about my dad was his hands, big hands, a simple gold band on the left index finger symbolizing his commitment to family. They embodied power and tenderness in equal measure. Jerry was born a big bouncing October baby with a larger-than-life personality that persisted to the end, even as he navigated the pernicious fog of dementia. The twinkle in his eyes showed us he was still there inside a body that could barely contain his expansive spirit. His used his stature to stand up for the underdog, to become a star athlete, and take care of whatever business needed addressing. Despite a challenging childhood, he was a hard worker who weeded potato fields as a kid and later helped manage a small grocery store. He spent his earnings not on himself, but looking after his mother, Viola, and four sisters, Sandra, Gail, Diane, and Carol. Then, when he met my mom, he looked after the three of us as a successful district sales manager for Proctor and Gamble. It was comforting to know someone like my dad was in your corner. I miss that even though I know he’s looking down on us from heaven.

The day my dad died, his hands were even larger than usual, and mine felt so small. I have my mother’s hands, short stumpy fingers. Instead of him holding my hand, I was holding his, caressing him and trying to lend comfort on his passage. I remember the strongly gripped handshakes he used to give and the “pull-my-finger” tricks, those hands scratching the furry heads of our dogs Phoebe, Bridget, Molly, and Lucy. His hands mowed grass and held poker hands and a kindle full of western novels. When he put away the footballs and basketballs of his youth, those hands picked up fishing poles and tennis rackets and golf clubs. In his retirement they held doll clothes and puzzle pieces as he played with his grandchildren and beach chairs and umbrellas for my mom for those weeks at Isle of Palms and hoses to water backyard flowers and tomato plants. Those hands carried heaping plates of steaming bacon for the church ministry and steadied me as I learned to ride a two-wheel bike.


My dad was my softball coach when I was in grade school. Those hands used to try and burn me out in games of catch. He used to have me turn my back and he would throw the ball high up in the air and then wait a second and then have me turn around and find it and catch it. I was shy and somewhat of an introvert, but he believed in me. My dad taught be to be tough, and he gave me confidence in myself, which is something I really need right now as I face my own personal struggles. I went from being a timid right fielder to a competent second baseman, and while I was never a slugger, I learned how to bunt. Sometimes winning doesn’t require power, but finesse, and that was an important life lesson.

Jerry followed the American dream, taking his family across the country on a salary underpinned by Mrs. Olsen and a good cup of Folger’s coffee. He and my mom traveled from Tulsa to Fort Worth and Louisville before making their final landing here in Charlotte. My dad gave us stability, comfortable houses in the suburbs with quality schools and good neighbors. He wanted the best for us, always. My father was a skilled businessman. He loved people, brought out the best in his employees, and could have risen higher up the ranks of P&G, but he never wanted to travel that much. He was a homebody, and he wanted to stay close to us. After I left home and came back to visit, I enjoyed our mornings together talking over coffee. He often drank two pots. Our politics differed, but that didn’t matter. I appreciated his perspectives, and even though we may have seen things through different lenses, I always knew my father’s heart was in the right place. As I got older, I realized that while the media might have told me we were in different camps, we weren’t, we were cut from the same cloth. I will always be my father’s daughter.


Jerry Hawver worked hard and played hard. He was stubborn and joyful. He got things done, right up to the end, even when the “jobs” he took on involved taking apart the cable box and other hardware at he assisted living center to the bemused consternation of the staff. My dad liked to have everything in order. He liked to stay busy. He loved his wife and children and grandchildren. I regret that distance kept us apart at the end of his life, but I am grateful to have glimpses into the wonders of elder Jerry captured in the pictures and videos of his guardian angel, my sister-in-law Lisa who visited him every day afterwork. Through her efforts I am able to see how many lessons our loved ones have for us even as they move away from the confinement of this earthly realm. I will treasure the glimpses given to me of “Eat Monster” Grandpa Jerry holding forth from his hospital bed with kind bemusement and a tender touch or snappy remark for those at his bedside. He was a character with huge hands and a huge heart. His care and charisma will be missed.

Today, we picture him in heaven making unlimited pots of coffee, straightening the papers, gathering up unattended drinking glasses, crooning the oldies, cracking jokes, and sneaking candy – peanut M&Ms and Cherry Mash. I’ll close with the lullaby he used to sing me as a little girl, from the movie Tammy with Debbie Reynolds. Pardon the poor quality of my voice, but this is my tribute.

I hear the cottonwoods whispering above

Tammy, Tammy, Tammy’s in love

The old hootie owl hootie-hoot’s to the dove

Tammy, Tammy, Tammy’s in love.


Does my lover feel what I feel when he comes near?

My heart beats so joyfully

You’d think that he could hear

Wish I knew if he knew what I’m dreaming of

Tammy, Tammy, Tammy’s in love


Whippoorwill, whippoorwill, you and I know

Tammy, Tammy can’t let him go

The breeze from the bayou keeps yearning along

Tammy, Tammy, you love him so


When the night is warm, soft and warm

I long for his charms

I’d sing like a violin

If I were in his arms


Wish I knew if he knew what I’m dreaming of

Tammy, Tammy, Tammy’s in love


I sang it to him the night he died. Ally loves you and misses you dad.



41 thoughts on “Eulogy For My Dad Jerry Lee Hawver – The Man Who Shaped The Woman I Am Today

  1. Tracy Smith says:

    Overwhelmed by your kindness to share such a personal story. A remarkable man and father for one to have. Peace be with you.

  2. IAn says:

    Beautiful & timeless. My sincere condolences for your loss Alison. He looks like a tremendous man and honourable father from the eras we so loved & grew up in…

  3. Anne Hennessy says:

    Beautiful words to honour your beautiful fathers spirit Alison x may he rest in great natural peace x sending you loads of love and strength x

  4. catnessa447d23240 says:

    Thank you for sharing such a tender moment. Your soulful tribute is deep and profoundly beautiful. Sincere condolences, sympathies and heartfelt love for you and your Father’s loved ones.

  5. Luigi Borda says:

    Hey Alison, Sorry to see the title on this e-mail but so happy that I opened and read it all! What a lovely tribute to a great man. Continue to share his stories and he will live on through them, you and your wonderful spirit too!

  6. Pavol says:

    My deepest condolences and thank you for sharing such beautiful and heartfelt words with us. Your dad is going to be with you watching over you every second of your life from now on. Much love to you!

  7. Eileen Duffey says:

    Alison, I am so sorry to hear of your dad’s passing. The eulogy is such a tender reflection on your dad. Please accept my condolences on your loss and my wish that you find yourself at peace in your next chapter.

  8. Jack Carney says:

    Thank you, Alison, for sharing your mourning, I know and value how important that is.
    Your love and care shine forth beautifully.
    “If we remembered every day that we could lose someone at any moment, we would love them more fiercely and freely and without fear. Not because there is nothing to lose, but because everything can be lost.” Unknown

  9. Maurvern says:

    All my love to you, Alison. He is proud of you, that much I am sure of.
    We never really die, but you probably know it already.
    Hugs ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  10. Lisa H says:

    Alison your Dad is beyond proud of the woman you have become. I am amazed at your loving care in this heart breaking time in your life.

  11. Bill Amis says:

    By The Seashore

    The sky in the morning is dark and dreary
    sad and cold
    my thoughts are empty
    and I am old.

    Though my bones are weary
    And seem to be warning
    arise I will
    and without self-mourning.

    For the passage of years
    has been good to me
    I’ve conquered my fears
    and learned how to see.

    And though this day
    is still in dawning
    the light in my eyes
    shall too soon be gone.

    But thanks to the Lord
    the clouds have passed.
    Here’s another day
    to spend with my friends

    In the sun
    on the sand
    by the seashore.

  12. Bill Amis says:

    Dear Alison,
    I have been watching you for years, and I am your biggest fan, although you wouldn’t know it judging from my past silence. It has been heart-rending to witness these recent turns of events in your life. You are one of the ultimately beautiful people in the world.
    My mother went through the same thing your father did. Here’s a poem I wrote for her in her waning years when her comprehension was limited. I tried to make it simple.

    Dear Mom

    These are words
    That form a sentence,
    Go together, write themselves.
    Mysterious words, important words
    Intended to be spoken.

    These are words
    Which have a purpose,
    Make it easy, mean a lot.
    Special words, affectionate words
    Chosen just for you.

    These are words
    To express a feeling,
    Bring a smile, touch the heart.
    Simple words, the only words
    To say how much I love you.

  13. Bill Amis says:


    Behind the door
    A field
    Through the field
    A forest

    Beyond the forest
    A mountain
    Over the mountain
    A river

    Down the river
    An ocean
    Across the ocean
    A sunrise

    With the sunrise
    A dream
    In the dream
    A key

  14. Cynthia Bowers says:

    What a wonderful man your dad was. We can all only hope we will be remembered for being strong, nurturing, and kind. For putting family first.

    When my beloved maternal grandmother, Memommy, passed away, I placed a bible in her hands ahead of her memorial service and was immediately awash with memories of her loving hands during her life.

    I admire your courage so much and realize how much your dad helped you become the person you are.

  15. Battersea says:

    Having just finished your beautiful eulogy to your Dad, I have chills from the similarities to what I could have written after my own father’s passing (if I had your writing skills). G_d bless you in this time of grief.

    It strikes me these were men of a certain generation, and as Hamlet said of his own father, we “shall not look upon his like again.”

  16. Skip Grantham says:

    Allison, Neil… your dad was a man among men… I’ll never forget the day he and your mom came to visit mom and dad .. we got in a pickup basketball game…. I was probably 18… he fouled me hard every time I shot the ball, and it wasn’t a soft foul.. several times knocking me to the ground…. I was really getting upset with how hard he was fouling…each time he fouled me he reached his hand out and helped me up.. saying “ get up you ain’t hurt” .. not till later in life I realized what he was doing… teaching moment! Never quit or give up, he was much bigger than me… I was 6’2 210lbs back then.. of course your dad much bigger… one of my memories with your dad! I loved him and more I respected him and the way he loved all of us ! R.I.P Uncle Jerry!!

  17. Jennifer Walters says:

    My heart is broken for you. Sending you strength and love in this message. I lost my Daddy in 2015, he was a lot like yours, strong, loving and supportive. I always say my library of knowledge burnt down when I lost him. He always knew how to fix things, the best places to go and how to make the perfect cup of joe! Alison, your Daddy is so proud of you and so are your listeners. I am so sorry for you and your family’s loss. -Jen

  18. Lydia Empringham says:

    Hugs and comfort to you and your family. Beautiful eulogy. He will always be with you cheering you on and providing support and strength. How blessed you are to have had a father like him. How blessed to have you to call daughter.

  19. TT says:

    May solace visit you, Alison. You are a shining star, a testimony to your father’s greatness.
    May all of our Dads in heaven be with us

  20. Brandi says:

    Oh Alison!!! I’m so sorry. He seemed like such a gentle and loving and fun man! He shaped a beautiful soul and he would be so proud. I love you and so glad you were there. 💛 I’m sorry I didn’t see this sooner. I’m going to say a prayer for you and your dad.
    Love, Brandi

  21. courtneymase says:

    My eyes filled with tears reading the words to remember your father. The light of your father shines on through you. What a beautiful legacy. I thank God for you Alison.

  22. Sheri Crisp says:

    That was a beautiful eulogy. My condolences. I miss my father’s large gentle hands too. Like you am cut from my father’s cloth and my son is cut from both.It’s nice to see the man who taught you how to fight so hard for the underdog. Lots of love. ❤️

  23. Gino Gaiga says:

    Hugs for you Alison on the loss of your dad who would always have your back. I could feel your love for him many times, which you mentioned over the past few years. Thank you for sharing your lovely story about your lovely dad. Peace be with him and you and all who surround you.
    Love Gino

  24. Rou says:

    It’s a privilege to see you with your father, you share so much with him! Open honest loving eyes. May the angels take care of him, and you in the loving grief left behind. Much much love, I miss your talks, there’s no one else like you, and your dad.

  25. Carolyn Radillo says:

    Dear Alison, what a beautiful eulogy in memory of your dear dad. Thank you for sharing it with us. Many condolences to you and your family as you grieve your loss. Sending love and prayers 💕 🙏

  26. Jerry Kann says:

    Alison——-I was very sad to hear the news of your father’s passing. I very much liked your description of him as “a guy who stood up to bullies.” You stand up to ’em too. I know you don’t go for the talk about leadership figures and such, but we do need them and you have set a great example for all of us. Thanks for what you’ve done and thank God for your Dad and what he did for you.

  27. Brian says:

    Your father was no doubt a good man – humble yet the best of class!! And perhaps your first teacher giving the foundation for who you are. My condolences Alison.

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