The committal of Benjamin F. Ward, Jr.

 

All - Ben's body was buried today in the Maplewood Cemetary in Durham in a simple, non-denominational, interfaith service per his direction.  If a setting for a burial can be beautiful, Ben's certainly was.  Ben is buried along the top of a knoll along the cemetary access road in section 19, in the shade (you know how he hated light in his apartment) with a view of the top of the Duke Chapel spires.  The service started at 3 pm, on a bright, late autumn day.  The gound was still wet from recent rains, but Hall-Wynne Funeral Home provided astroturf at the graveside which kept the dampness at bay.  It was cool in the shade, but the winds were calm, so it was not unpleasant.

For 40 some minutes before the service, Beethoven's Fifth piano concerto danced across the vista toward the chapel spires from an amazing sound system provided by Erick Uphoff (DJerock), my son and Ben's Godson.  My father-in-law, Nathan Brooks, wrote and lead the service, which is attached.  After the written service, the Pitchforks sang "Hallelujah" and "Simple Gifts" through recordings - there is no way that they could have done it live as it would have been far too difficult.  Their music provided the backdrop against which we watched the casket lowered into the grave.  There was not a dry eye to be found as we watched Ben's coffin drop before us.  After a brief explanation from Robert Rosenstein of the Jewish custom of placing 3 scoops of dirt into the grave on top of the casket using the back of a shovel, a brief benediction was pronouced as those present filed by the grave to add their scoops of dirt.  The adagio movement of Beethoven's 8th piano sonata provided the musical accompanyment.  The entire service took 20 minutes.

As services go, this one was quite moving for the small group present.  It was simple, it was inclusive, it was filled with music, it was final.  It was what Ben wanted.  

A Service of Remembrance is scheduled for January 18, 2014.  It will be held in the chapel.  A Reception of Remembrance will follow immediately in Penn Pavilion, near the Bryan Center on West Campus.

Just after the first of the year, I will begin planning these celebrations with the university.  As we figure out the role of the Pitchforks in the day's events, it will be helpful to know who all is coming.  If you can let me know by Sunday, January 5 if you are an alum and plan to attend, that would help us figure out how best to accomodate the group.  -Kurt

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