[Drew welcomed everyone to the University of Delaware campus to dedicate this bench to Stone, under the shade of an oak tree also dedicated to Stone and to Holt. She spoke beautifully of her meaningful relationship with Stone when he was intern to her as Director of the ACLU/Delaware. Then she read this letter from Stone’s friend Maddie Kropa... who was present, but emotionally unable to read her letter....]
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Weeks,
As promised, here is the glamour shot of Stone and I from his chartering banquet in 2007. I'm not actually a short girl but they had to make Stone kneel so we could be about the same height. He was so tall!
I'm sorry it took me so long to send this, but every time I sat down at the keyboard, it seemed like such an insurmountable task to find the right words to say to you. I remembered that when I saw you after the memorial you told me to send my memories. So, I hope you might enjoy reading a little bit about my friendship with Stone. Thinking about him always makes me smile.
I met Stone my sophomore year of college in the class, "Archaeological History of the Eastern United States". But some of my fondest memories of Stone were from our times studying and struggling through that unbelievably difficult undergrad course. None of us had any idea what we were doing but Stone and I
made the best of it, laughing in utter disbelief at accumulating assignments (one in which Stone even had to deliver a public presentation on our "porcelain" report at the Newcastle Historical Society) and the hours we were required to spend cleaning pottery shards in the archaeology lab. He might tell you that the only reason I ultimately did better in that class than him was because he couldn't stand the distracting sound of my bangle bracelets against the desk during test time. Crazily enough, he eventually told me he didn't even need that course for credit! I like to think that he didn't drop it from his schedule because we were having SO much fun together. No one could make me laugh like him!
Stone and I became fast friends. During that semester, we chatted about everything - traveling, our experiences in Aix-en-Provence, music, art, movies (Stone and I went and saw V for Vendetta after class one night and he gushed about it for months), and of course, we talked about his family. In his words, I was "going to love meeting you." I told him I didn't know if I could keep up, especially since politics seemed like an important part of his family life, and I can be pretty clueless in that arena. His response was, "You're smart. You'll learn." I think he might have been a bit overconfident about my abilities...
Admittedly, I'm not really good at staying in touch with friends over time, but Stone and I always managed to stay connected even after he graduated from Delaware and went to Texas. One evening last September
as Stone and I were chatting online he told me, "LOTS of girls come and go (smooth talker huh?). But my thoughts always seem to come back to you. Seriously, I think we should get married because when I'm
President, I want you standing next to me as my First Lady." He reminded me that I'd figure the whole "politics thing" out over time. I thought, "This guy either has some serious self-confidence, or he’s
been drinking. Maybe he just thinks I'd look really good in a conservative power suit...Who knows?” But after that night, most of our conversations began with him asking if I'd marry him. I always jokingly replied that of course I would.
I cherish a text message from October 2008 that somehow, after all this time, never got deleted from my phone. It reads, “So glad you don’t like Palin. I’m sold on marrying you.” Maybe that was a line
he gave all the ladies (especially around election time), but those out-of-the-blue proposals always made me feel special. He could have been anywhere, doing anything, but he’d let me know he was thinking of
me still, despite the fact that we hadn’t seen each other in two years. I like to pretend this picture of us from the banquet is the first of what might have been hundreds of Presidential photos down the road.
Sorry if this is a little more if than you cared to know about my friendship with Stone, but I wanted to share just a tiny piece of "our story" with the people who knew him best since we didn't have any mutual friends. Even though it's been difficult talking about Stone these past weeks and not having others really understand my connection with him, it almost makes the time we spent together feel all the more precious. It's as if we functioned in our own little isolated world, and certainly, anyone who heard us talking to one another probably would have felt like an outsider trying to decipher all of our obscure jokes.
I am truly grateful for the short time Stone and I spent together. I wish I had known Holt, but the way Stone talked about him, I almost feel like I did. The love he had for life and for all of you was overflowing, and I am a better person for having known him. Your family is never far from my thoughts. I miss Stone constantly, and I pray for him, Holt, and you with each passing day. Thank you for
raising an incredible young man, who, whether he knew it or not, was one of my best friends these
Stone is a person whom people notice. When he walks into a room he not only fills it with his actual person, but also with his personality. Stone was someone people would say had his priorities straight. Maybe that's because no better word exists. But to me, priorities insist that Stone put one thing before another and that wasn't like Stone. Now everything he did had a good reason, for the most part. He was balanced in maintaining friends and creating a world he wanted to live in. But he never put one before the
other, like most of us do. He never said my friend is more important than this rally, or my moral code is too grand to befriend this confused person. He never put anything he wanted to do or become or be with on the back burner. Stone seemingly was everywhere, at everytime, with everyone, and enjoying everything about it. It was simply amazing to witness the amount of good work, friends, family and other accomplishments Stone cared about and for in life.
Everyone who knew Stone, and every friend he made, can see that he was one of the few people who live up to their name. Stone was a rock in many aspects of life. If someone ever tried to argue with him, Stone would not budge an inch nor concede an ounce of his values to them. To those whom were asked to lead Stone, be them a teacher, a coach, or a boss, he was a constant. Like the corner stone in a foundation, people knew he would be in the right place, apply the most effort, and hold as many of the other people together as he could.
If you were Stone’s friend, though, you saw the real truth behind his name. Stone was a rock when you needed him to be, he was there to stand for the right things and hold you up when you were not able to stand for them yourself. Stone was always able to put aside what he was doing, and spend time with whoever needed somebody to help.
There are words for a friend who would put time with you ahead of everything else they need to do. Loyal and caring seem to be at the top of that list, but to it I would add Stone-esque, because to me there is no word that could possibly describe Stone’s character. He was Stone, and Stone was indescribable at best.
Stone managed to be everywhere for his friends. To be both ready to jump to your defense and at a chance to do something fun. To be sporadic and whimsical, but stick with your carefully made plans. To be funny and witty, but also sensitive to the feelings of those he loved. In the end, Stone managed to do so many things every day, week, month, and year, and any one of them alone would have exhausted the average man.
Yet, none of this is quite what made Stone uniquely Stone. Stone’s actions are a part of his unique person, but they aren’t what made him Stone. What made Stone, Stone, was something intangible, but something that historians and scientists both cherish, a fact. What gave Stone his unique ability to be the only Stone-esque person I will ever know, is the fact that Stone did everything in life while making the people around him happier and more thoughtful. No matter how much you may have disagreed with him in that argument, you left thinking and with a smile. Even if two minutes earlier you were red in the face and as angry as a badger, in the end you would somehow smile and laugh. Whether you were his teacher, coach, friend, or family, you probably had a moment where your mind wanted to be mad as hell at Stone, but
somehow when he walked away you were smiling and laughing. I can only hope that on my best days I can muster some of this quality.
So, along with the great memories, this is what Stone has left with us: the ability to laugh and smile in the face of life’s struggles, and to know that somehow Stone was able to help you do that at the most unlikely of times. We will all have times where we remember him, and I can only hope that before our sadness and remorse takes over, we will smile and think, “Oh Stone, how did you do that?”
Ever since Jan and Linton came to me with the idea of speaking today I’ve struggled to find the right words. But then I realized that there are no right or wrong words. Stone was a lot of things to many different people. A son, a brother, a TA, a friend, someone you may have passed on the street, the list could go on and on.
To me Stone was a number of things. But the most important one that comes to mind is mentor. He taught me countless things through his actions in going out of his way for not only myself but even for people he didn’t even know. He was the person always there for me willing to hear about my problems or the person that would offer a friendly goofy laugh when I could use it the most. I was lucky enough to be able to call him one of my Big Brothers in the fraternity. And he exemplified that title as if I was truly a little brother of his own. He took me right under his wing and led me down a path in my life where I couldn’t be any happier to be on.
The memories we got to share from chartering a fraternity, heated debates on why Mel Brook’s Space Balls is a great movie (Stone still thinks I’m nuts for thinking so), and even taking an impromptu trip to New Orleans for Spring Break with no real place to stay will stay in my heart forever. But sadly, I was never fortunate enough to meet Holt but just through all of Stone’s stories I felt like I’ve known him all my life.
When I was coming up with a slogan for the memorial wristbands it was an easy and quick decision to go with “Live for Others” because that’s what Stone and Holt did with every waking minute of their lives. And every time I look down and see their names in blue and gold, I strive to even do a small percentage of the things they accomplished. I never take it off and every time someone stops and asks “what’s the band for?” a smile comes across my face because I get to tell the story of attempting to honor someone who I truly care about and someone who changed my life forever.
I miss Stone every day, but a small calm and comfort comes over me when I realize the fact that every day I spend apart from him I’m just one more closer to being reunited with him. This memorial bench couldn’t be a more perfect fit to honor Stone. It will give people that sit on it the support, comfort, and perspective on life that I was so fortunate enough to gain from having him in my life.
I want to close with a few lines from singer/songwriter Bruce Springsteen from his song Blood Brothers. “But the stars are burning bright, like some mystery uncovered. I’ll keep movin’ thru the dark, with you in my heart. My blood brother.” I love you Stone. Thank you.
Coming back to campus, I look around and feel my memories resurfacing—each one tied to a distinct mental image of my time in Newark. My thanks are to Jan and Linton for allowing me a moment to present just a few snapshots of Stone, a best friend with whom I first crossed paths right here at Delaware, as a freshman.
Today, I will spare you my nostalgia—at least, in part—by recounting just a few impressions of Stone that last in my mind from the time I spent with him at Delaware. My hope is that these moments might offer to you a truth which I have already accepted: Wherever you look; Stone is present.
First, I look over towards the infamous Rodney freshman dorm complex. I met Stone playing basketball on the Rodney courts. Many in attendance today could easily guess that Stone was sporting an outlandish NBA “throwback” jersey, complemented by bright plaid shorts from a thrift store. But that is not important to remember. What strikes me about this memory is that when I met Stone, I met him very much in his element: surrounded by friends, laughing, cracking jokes and hurling cheap insults. I recall Stone’s ability to make goodwill and friendship contagious. To Stone, the act of friendship was effortless—a reflex, consistently paired with other virtues such as peace and tolerance.
Next, I look down Main Street and recall one of Stone’s favorite pastimes. If you happened to be walking down Main Street, Cleveland Avenue, South College Avenue, or any other street near campus, at any given time if you heard blaring 80s pop music—chances are that Stone might have been about a block away in his car. Moments later the volume would increase as Stone would roll by with his windows open—his dog Priam in the passenger seat—and if you were friends with Stone, he would identify you with an enthusiastic shout-out—whether you wanted one or not. The man could make himself heard.
Stone’s voice carried as well in the classroom as it did otherwise in Newark. The last memory I have to share comes from a collection of verbal battles I witnessed Stone fight eloquently in class, at the dining hall, or even on the couch during Monday Night Football. It was then, and always will be so uplifting to hear someone of my generation speak to be relevant; to communicate a sincere message; to generate independent, rational, meaningful thought. I am sure all of you have a handful of rants, outbursts, stories, or speeches Stone delivered to you. Please hold on to them and revisit them next time you have something important to say.
While it may be impossible to remember a lifetime through a series of moments, tapping into them once every so often reminds me that Stone is still here. His presence endures mortality. Before you leave today, I invite you to take a walk around and grasp the memories that come to mind. When you do, please take Stone with you.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Please allow me to apologize for not making it to the bench dedication myself. My Marine Corps obligations have pulled me away in that I have asked a friend and brother, Dave Tully, to read in my absence.
Stone and I first met in Dr. Alchon's History 302, World in Our Time class, in the 2006 spring semester. I was the back of the classroom quarterback preferring to make it through class, while Stone sat in the front row and made up for my lack of participation. It must have been something to do with him being active in everything he did, from political campaigning for Obama in Texas and the south, to being a founding father of Pi Kappa Phi. I was at a barbeque the day before I left for training for Iraq at Wilburfest when Stone and I ran into each other. It was the first time I can recall we had said anything to each other really, but he wrote me a message later that day telling me to stay safe and take care of myself. I barely knew the guy, but he seemed alright in my book. A true understatement.
When I came home, I went to a fraternity meeting, where I met up with Stone, Chris Murray, and Dave Bennett. I remember we went to Grotto's to watch March Madness and we stayed for several beers. Those several beers turned into another bar, and about 3 house parties, ending with kareoke at his place behind Wonderland at about 5:45 in the morning. It felt amazing to be back in Newark. For some reason, we just clicked, and spent every day drinking beer on his porch, or the roof of his porch, throwing with Bocephus Optimas Priam, and just listening to music.
Stone is the reason I was able to come home from Iraq and not lose half my mind. Transitioning from a war zone to campus is not the easiest thing to do, but Stone accepted me back into life as though I had never left. A friend once asked Stone and I how we got along so well. I fought in a war he opposed, but we could not have been better friends. I think it's because we saw the humanity in each other and that is all we cared about. Jan and Linton, thank you for raising such a great son and great friend.
[Chris played ‘Saying Good-bye’, an original instrumental song written for Stone, on acoustic guitar.]
Remarks Upon this Day of Commemoration, of Celebration, of Stone Weeks,
and Beloved Brother, Holt, May 15, 2010
== First comes gratitude. My thanks to Jan and Linton Weeks for this privilege.
== Thanks, too, to: Drewry and to this band of Brothers…
== Institutions don’t feel, but within them are people good and generous, including Robin Wray, Joanna Fink, and Laura Anuinas.
And thanks to this gathering of the young.
I have been asked to read from letters to Stone’s parents. This I do in some of what follows.
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.
Dear Ones == 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 Miss Emily 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.