As we gather tonight to honor & commemorate the lives of Stone & Holt Weeks I am so pleased to see classmate’s friends and families from past years. It has been a wonderful testament to the boy’s lives to see so many familiar faces.... I have been so humbled to have worked with Jan and Linton on preparing for this event. I have said this to you before but I will say again, you have taught me a lot and my wife Charlotte and I love you both.
I will close in telling you a story about Stone. As most of you know I coached Stone in basketball. He was one of my best players and because he was so tall I always expected a lot from him because besides Michael Rogan he was one of the biggest kids in the school. Well, in those days we were trying very hard to step up our program and so we played some pretty good teams. On this particular night we played Georgetown Prep and Stone was assigned to guard their 7’0 center. Stone was so excited, even though he gave up about 6 inches and 50 pounds. Attending the game was former Georgetown Coach John Thompson and current coach at the time Craig Esterick. Stone played his heart out and at one point blocked the 7 footers shot and held him to an astounding 4 points. At halftime Stone looked so exhausted that I asked if he was OK and he responded with “He only has 4 points”. I am not going to tell you how the game ended but I will say that Roy Hibbert now of the Indiana Pacers knew that a kid with a big heart had guarded him that night.
This is the attitude that I loved most about Stone and Holt. There was nothing too big for them to take on. It is an honor and privilege tonight to show that St. Andrew’s will keep their legacies going.
The irony of my being here today is that Stone and I had a conversation right before the day we graduated. I told him I was never coming back here. He told me I would come back for a reunion eventually. I laughed, and until this day I haven’t been back since the last day of high school. Now he’s laughing at me somewhere, because he is the one who got me back to St. Andrew’s. Unfortunately, without him.
I have known Stone since I was 5 years old. You don’t realize how important and rare it is when you have friends that long. People come and go, but the ones that survive throughout your relationships, relocation, and personal changes, are the real friends.
I remember the first day of school at St. Andrew’s. And it is because of Stone. We went to Wyngate Elementary school together, and on the last day I decided I was going to tell Stone Weeks how I felt about him. I was considered one of the boys, mostly because I was the biggest tomboy, partly because I wore the same hooded sweatshirt 4 out of 5 days a week, and partly because brushing my hair really didn’t seem that important. BUT, despite all things working against me, I walked right up to Stone and told him, “I Love You.” Let’s just say it was an awkward moment of silence, I turned and walked away. I thought well at least I had nothing to lose I would never see him again, I was being sent to private school. Well, my mother forgot to pick me up from school, so Jan insisted on giving me a ride home, again awkward car ride of silence. Then on my first day at Saint Andrew’s, where I had determined to make a fresh start, I saw towering amongst the new 6th graders, as always with his stature, and bowl cut, I may add. I saw Stone. Mortified, as he walked towards me, he slapped me a high five and said, “Let’s show these people about Wyngate.”
Always positive, always overlooking awkwardness, always making people feel comfortable, well as long as you could take his jokes. Stone was a force.
I will say this, when I told Stone that I loved him, I know now that I meant it as a love between friends, a friend that I was afraid to lose, and now that I have lost him I will never be the same. However, I do know now that I love every awkward moment, and cherish every moment with a friend, because you never truly know when it is your last. The last words Stone said to me were, “ Dude, you gotta come to D.C. with us, we are driving up for Brinkley’s book signing. “ I told him “You know I can’t get off work on weekends, and you know I don’t’ go to D.C. …..I’ll come visit you in Houston next week.”
Sometimes there is no next week.
I am lucky, I got to spend time with Stone and his very loved and awesome brother Holt in New Orleans a few weeks before we lost them. The three of us called Jan one night, and we all talked and laughed. She told us how special it was that we were still friends, and she was happy they got to spend time in New Orleans with me. We also talked right after we got off the phone with Jan, I told them they had the best mom in the world. Jan, and I quote your son’s who took a moment of silence for their mom. Our mom is the best, nodding both their heads. They were both so special, and they loved their parents so much.
I’m sorry this is the reason I’m back here, but grateful that we can be here together, especially here together for Stone and Holt, and for Jan and Linton. I love you all very much, and I hope you know how much everyone does.
Earlier this week I found myself sitting in a large conference room at the Woodley Marriot, listening to various speakers on topics relative to the industry in which I work. Taking in my surroundings, I realized that the last time I had been in this particular room had been years
earlier, sitting alongside my closest friend, Stone Weeks, at a conference for the ACLU; an organization he had worked for throughout the previous summer.
In this moment, the years began to flash before me as I withdrew from my surroundings and thought back to my first days at St. Andrew’ s Episcopal School. I thought back to the long hallways that we had run up and down as middle-schoolers, unaware of the realities of the world we lived in; care free. I thought back to my first impression of Stone; well-spoken, outgoing and thoughtful. At this point in our lives we were more concerned with the day to day ins and outs of our social lives than the bigger picture. From our various middle school dances, youth group activities, tennis competitions, and social outlets; Stone and I grew closer throughout middle-school although I didn’t realize how close we would actually come to be years down the road. Following the end of our 8th grade year at St. Andrew’s I departed for boarding school although Stone never let this deter him from maintaining contact with me. I could consistently count on him to be there in each and every aspect of my life that he could be, given our ages and circumstances.
It wasn’t until my junior year of high-school that I truly realized how much we had in common, and more importantly, how close are bond had become. It all began with a couple hundred dollars, an open road, and a collection of 80’s tracks which we played throughout a short-lived road trip down South. On this drive, we had the opportunity to really catch up on our high-school careers to that point and the various developments in each of our lives. We had always been friends and shared common interests but that is never enough to maintain the bond between two people throughout adulthood. From this point forward, there was an obvious change in our friendship as I had the privilege of knowing Stone on a level that most never were able to.
I also, throughout the years , had the privilege of getting to know his younger brother, Holt, who was always at the forefront of Stone’s thoughts. As we grew older, I watched as Stone actively pursued a closer relationship with his brother, consistently looking our for him and incorporating him into his own life, whenever he could. Both Stone and Holt possessed an uncanny work ethic and both the intellect and wit to accomplish anything that they set their minds too. Throughout years of heated political debates, theoretical discussions, historical references, and an excessive amount of karaoke I came to appreciate the versatility that both Stone and Holt possessed. Both were uncompromising in their values and morals, loyal, honest, and I could not imagine having a better friend than either Stone or Holt.
Since the accident which took the lives of my best friend, Stone, and his little brother, Holt, there have been many moments in which I was hit with the loss that all of those who were close to these two have suffered. Initially, I cried and struggled to keep my composure regardless of my surroundings. Whether it was the subtle playing of “Time after Time” by Cindi Lauper at a restaurant or a favored eighties hit that put me in the middle of the Week’s family room with a microphone in hand, Stone on the guitar and Holt, on drums as always. The more I tried to understand the reality of this tragedy, the more I lost touch with what really mattered; the time that I had as Stone’s closest friend . The more and more I have thought about Stone and Holt, all I can do is smile and shake my head, reminiscing on two individuals who carried so much of life’s energy within.
Thank you to everyone for joining us today. There are two primary themes I wanted to share with today: How I first met Stone and one of many things that made him a special young man.
I attended St. Andrew’s for high school. Before I started freshman year, I attended a study skills class with about 20 or so other students, mostly populated by St. Andrew’s kids. Stone was one of these students. The class wasn’t too long, just two weeks in the afternoons. It became clear that Stone was friends with, if not acquainted personally with everybody in that class. He had a genuinely friendly demeanor, which then, and always drew people to him. The first weekend, after this summer course, my home phone rang. It was Stone calling, inviting me to sleep over. I accepted, and this began a great friendship which lasted as long as Stone was with us.
I could write or speak about Stone all day. I’m sure many others here could do the same. If I was to narrow down one thing about him which would be relevant to this dedication, it would be his pioneering spirit among his peers. When children are young, they are impressionable and insecure. Nobody wants to stand out too much even if it’s for something good. It only takes one popular pessimist in a crowd to make anyone hide an unpopular interest, skill or idea. The reverse is also true. One popular student can declare something cool, only to watch many others follow suit. Stone decided it was cool to care about the environment, to help the less fortunate, to raise awareness about social justice. Stone was proud and unafraid to use his own social influence to do good in the world. This is one of many things that made Stone special.
Stone was not just brilliant, funny, and a great friend. He truly had a heart of gold. He not only had love for the one’s he saw needed it the most he had compassion for all.
My fondest memory of Stone was wen he came to Rice to be Douglas Brinkley’s research assistant. I introduced him to all my friends. After that no one wanted to hang out with me anymore. EVERYONE wanted to be Stone’s best friend. Truly he had the personality to get along with everyone.
Both Stone’s and Holt’s intellects and love for politics impressed the entire Rice community. Their spirits stay with all of us, and will never be forgotten.
Both Stone and I loved music and he thought it was so cool that I play the cello. I would like to dedicate the Bach First Suite to Stone who I know is listening.
Suite I for Violoncello by Johann Sebastian Bach
Hello everyone. I’d first like to thank you all for being here today to help support the family and friends, and to honor the memories of Stone Weeks and Holt Weeks. When I was asked by Jan and Linton to speak today I was a little worried about what I was going to say, especially in less than three minutes. I mean, how do you summarize the impact a friend, who has been there for over half of your life, has on you? Especially when that friend is Stone Weeks.
Our friendship began here in 6th grade and I keep many happy memories of Stone both inside and outside these walls. Trips to Camp Varsity, school dances, Rogo Wars, getting in trouble together, getting mad at each other, getting mad at others, having heart to hearts about life when it seemed that no one else could understand, and most importantly, laughing every moment in between.
I wish that I could remember every detail of my friendship with Stone; that I could take all my memories of him and lock them away so they will never be forgotten, but I can’t so I try to go through the ones that matter most to me and help me keep him in my heart. One that I keep returning to was only a few years ago right at the beginning of Winter Break of our Sophomore year of college. I was driving home from Oklahoma, and decided to do it all in one trip. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever driven from Oklahoma to Maryland but it’s about 1300 miles and takes almost 20 hours, and you don’t smell too pretty when its all over and done with. During these drives I would call friends to help pass the time or stay awake. On this drive I was actually on a conference call with Stone and Rob and I told them I would be getting home around midnight, a semi-decent hour for a Sophomore in college and a perfect time to go out. I remember as I was crossing from VA in MD I called Rob and he didn’t pick up, so I decided to call Stone and tell him that we could just hang out some other time. But oh no, Stone was not having this, and demanded that I come over immediately. So of course I went over to his house, and when I got there he already had opened up a Christmas present from one of his frat brothers, which was a Christmas set containing a bottle of something with two glasses, so he could make me a new drink that he discovered… as he liked to call it a G&T. We continued to drink these new fancy drinks until the early hours of the morning, while at the same time talking about school, our fraternities, girls, and anything else we could think of. Then at about 5 am Stone told me that I was to go sleep in the guest room and he’d wake me up in the morning. I walked into the guest room and he had already pulled out some towels and blankets before I had even gotten there. That’s just a miniscule example of Stone but it has always meant the world to me. A brief epilogue to that story is that the next morning Mrs. Weeks, already knowing I was there, called us both to breakfast, and once we were done asked me if I had been home yet to see my mother. I told her no, and immediately she said to me, “John Gurdian, I love you but you get home and see your mother right now.” And out I went.
It has always been my belief that you discover who a person is by the people they surround themselves with. The people who are not only around you every day but whose thoughts, experiences, and influences you carry with you as well. I know Stone could not have been the man that he was without his parents. His mother Jan’s compassion and ability to see beauty in the world, and his father Linton’s constant wisdom and knowledge of what a true man is supposed to be. These two incredible people raised their sons showing them what true love is and put them on the fast track to becoming truly extraordinary men. I will always be indebted to the two of them for the way that they raised their sons, because I am who I am today because Stone Weeks helped me become that way. His humor, intelligence, and love for this world is something that I will carry with me forever. He always wanted people to be the best that they could. It was something that he not only expected but demanded from his younger brother Holt as well. The two of them were an inspiration to everyone around them. To this day both of these gentlemen inspire me, because every time I feel like I’ve lost my way or things aren’t going well I end up looking down, as most do, and see the phrases “Live for Others” and “Seize Life!!” and they lift me up. Thank you.
Ryan Hathaway reading Dr. Guy Alchon
For those of you who do not know me, my name is Ryan Hathaway, I graduated a year behind Stone here at St. Andrews. From my first weeks in school, Stone had befriended me, making sure that as a new student I wasn't too overwhelmed. This was his way with people, to make them feel at ease. As a freshman on the varsity basketball team, I was welcomed to practices almost exclusively by Stone at first, taking me to get food after school before practice, and once again making sure I felt welcomed.
My senior year I visited Stone at the University of Delaware, where he once again was welcoming and accommodating. A year later I found myself at UD, once again classmates with Stone. We became closer and unknowingly became neighbors my sophomore year. In my junior year Stone wanted me to take an extra course on the history of the My Lai Massacre, as he had found I had a personal connection to the reporter who first leaked the story. Originally, like many things Stone convinced me to do, I had no intention of actually taking the class. My thought was that it would require special permission to take an above normal credit load that semester. Stone didn't accept that excuse as he already had more than 18 credits and was TAing a course on top of that, and I found myself sitting in Dr. Guy Alchon's classroom that semester.
It was my pleasure to witness the relationship between Dr. Alchon and Stone. It wasn't a teacher student relationship we've come to expect in school, it was a mentorship and friendship. I was able to watch them develop each others’ ideas, debate, argue and debate some more on topics ranging from politics to the meaning of life. Dr. Alchon, and our whole class, was blessed by Stone's enthusiasm and energy in the classroom, and often it seemed as if Stone might complete a lecture if not for his willingness to cede our attention back to Dr. Alchon. This is why it is a distinct honor to read the words of our mutual friend and mentor Dr. Guy Alchon in letters he wrote to Mr. and Mrs. Weeks.
Last year in May, at the University of Delaware dedication of a bench to Stone's memory -- under an oak tree dedicated to Stone's and Holt's memories -- all spearheaded by Dr. Alchon -- he spoke and read from letters he had written to Stone's and Holt's parents over the then-previous 10 months since the deaths of Stone and Holt. I will read from what he said last May.
“Remarks Upon this Day of Commemoration, of Celebration, of Stone Weeks,
and Beloved Brother, Holt, May 15, 2010
“The Imminence, the Rightness of today pierced like prophecy even months ago.
In mid-February, at twilight, at its Main Street gates, this beautiful, "be-columned," Georgian pile that is Old College startled with fresh meaning. Soon to welcome Stone’s bench, its aspect, even then, was forever changed, its sprawl and shadows heavy with happy gravity, as if in anticipation of this day of consecration.
“On Stone, as one professor came to know him…
Stone devoted much of his last two college years to disciplining his passions, learning to harness them to the mind's work. This was difficult for him as he enjoyed the sparks of rhetorical fireworks. But he began to practice the art of listening to another's point of view. More radically, he undertook the demanding discipline of reserving judgments, a thing Scott Fitzgerald termed “a matter of infinite hope…” And as Stone gentled, he began to wear his seriousness more lightly, with a halfway insouciance that seemed to agree with him, as it arose from the tender precincts of his soul.
Fitzgerald, again, might as well have been thinking of Stone: In a certain book of 1925, he wrote that “If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life…; it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person.”
Stone treated me with a beguiling protectiveness, one that corresponded with his winning the post of Undergraduate Teaching Assistant in 2006. His feelings always stronger than there were means to express them, Stone, I think, simply decided to be the best Undergraduate TA possible, ever anticipating my needs, the course's needs. And in one small gesture, he managed to convey care, respect, and more: Walking to class he would insist upon carrying my bags (said he learned this from long practice with his father!). And after class, always before I could get to them, stood Stone, smiling, with my several bags slung over a high shoulder.
“On Stone and the Truth of Hurricanes…
Like the finest personalities, Stone felt the world's pain to a degree always threatening to overrun him. In a short time, however, he found the inner throttle vital to the most passionately articulate. Lincoln struggled with this, as did Emily Dickinson.
From each generation, then, come those whose eyes fix upon the beaten, betrayed, and martyred children of the earth. Certainly in his keenest aspect, Stone bent toward such hard-headed goodness, understood that hope required defiance, and that help and rescue were the totems of a worthy life…
In this, Stone showed that he understood the truth of hurricanes. In the ninth chapter of the Book of Genesis, the rainbow vaulting a blue sky means hope. And amidst the swirling destruction of a hurricane, at its center, the eye of the hurricane is still… and blue… and hopeful.
At our best, we do what we can to push back against man-made hurricanes, the large and small storms of evil. We fight for the blue, to expand the blue. But still the hurricanes come, driven by cruelties, whipped by indifference, and ever a threat to the goodness nestled in the blue.
“For Dear Ones ==For Jan and Linton -- About goodness and the death of the young…
…Then there is the valediction to young Mary White, penned by her father, the redoubtable newspaperman of Emporia, Kansas, in 1921. And as these next days run into weeks, then months, as the blind-sidings of grief take on different shapes and depths, I pray that you remember that for Stone and Holt, as for Mary White... "the souls of them, the glowing, gorgeous, fervent souls of them, surely are flaming in eager joy upon some other dawn..."
Just now, even as you are pulled back to life, pulled into your new orientation, you do so, I know, with time forever fixed to the minutes of that night and of that day. And you can do that and still live. Just as you can also leave the boys' rooms just as they are, just as they were, and forever. You can do this, too, and still live. Even the inscrutable Emily Dickinson understood that a numinous stillness, a letting go in order to let things be, for now, arose from contemplation to sensibility to necessity:
Ample make this Bed – Make this Bed with Awe…In it wait till Judgment break
Excellent and Fair…
Be its Mattress straight –Be its Pillow round –Let no Sunrise’ yellow noise
Interrupt this Ground…
“In Devotion to her Romeo, Juliet of Capulet spoke for the Ages, and sometime late last summer she Friended Stone and Holt.
…If love be blind, it best agrees with Night… Come gentle night… Give me my Romeo;
And when he shall die, take him and cut him into little Stars.
And he will make the face of Heaven so bright
That all the world will be in love with Night
And Pay no worship to the garish Sun.
“Dear Ones == Please do not be too much alone…
Cling to the living, love them, and hold on. Solitude enough comes with nightfall. But please remember that with night, even at its worst, you are watched over by your boys. Remember that Juliet's wish for Romeo reaches through time to encompass Stone and Holt. They, too, are stars aglow in the firmament, new ones at that, and so brighter than most.
“No matter what night might bring, then, your boys forever pulse in their adoration of you. And now and forever you are kept safe beneath their bright-eyed gaze, one forever fixed upon you.
With love for you, and for your boys, whose midnight skyward gleam makes “the face of heaven so fine.” All love, of course.., and a kneeling prayer to the angels of endurance.
“Finally, to the young adults here gathered
Achingly beautiful you are, living testimony of a part of Stone’s fate yet unwritten. Know that the lives you choose to live, the place you choose to stand, all of it will unfold with Stone’s hand gently at your back. You, even at your lowest and most fearful, are thus blessed by the hand of a man forever young, who even as you age is your dedicated friend, who asks, in return, a thing deceptively simple: that you hold him close.
Hardest of all “in the rush of everything to waste,” Robert Frost’s phrase that too well describes the United States of Carelessness and Inattention, the Kingdom of the Superficial, hardest of all is remembering, remembering not to forget. Hold him close; never forget.
The years to come are more trying than you can know. Your memories of Stone, especially the sweet and silly ones, are your treasure, are his gifts to you. He is Always Faithful, but then he mostly was. What shall you be? Where shall you make your stand in a world terrible and random?
“Should you be run over by life, from where will come your quiet dignity? How many crosses can you bear before bending, and then breaking? Your answers, the filling in of the pages of your lives, also fill in the last pages of Stone’s book. Hold him close; never forget, never doubt the power of remembering, for Memory is our only connection to Hope. And Hope is life defiant. No wonder, then, that coiled Fate fears it most.
“And Hope is Life Defiant.
“With affectionate respect… Thank you.”
Jan and Linton, I know that Dr. Alchon meant so much to Stone, but Stone meant ever more to Dr. Alchon and everyone whose life he touched. Stone and Holt love you both so much, and continue to through their memories and friends. I know Dr. Alchon would want me to pass on his love for your son today.