Remarks from Eric Stern

Eric is Allan's son, Bob's grandson

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I'm Eric Stern, son of Allan and Patricia, Bob's somewhere middle grandson -- a borderline underachiever but I'm seeming to get my act together slowly (laughter). As we know, my grandfather was a great story teller and historian. And he'd sit down while perched in a chair while we sat down on the floor and squirmed for hours on end. He'd look at you as if to dare your focus to sway from his words while telling a story. Sitting comfortably, he would narrate to us on the floor.

It was very important to him that he remain in eye contact with us - at all times. He had to have you locked in so you knew where he was going, and could follow the changes. Normally, this is an honorable trait - maintaining connection with those you're speaking to. However, it's a little less confidence-inspiring when you're sitting in the back seat of a car coming back from getting onion rings. He couldn't take his eyes off you as he was driving (laughter).

Here, indeed, was little eye contact with the road in front of us.

One afternoon in Tucson many years ago - I don't quite remember the occasion - family members, relatives, and friends were coming into town. The two cars they had were desperately in need and overused. Dad and I had some errand to run and the only way we could actually take care of that was if we'd drop Grandpa off at the golf course, make sure he got in okay; then we could take the car, promising to pick him up later. We all looked at each other in the driveway a little bit to figure out who was actually going to ride with him in the car. No volunteers (laughter).

"Rock, Paper, Scissors" ensued. Still, no one stepped forward. I had "rock." Dad had "paper."

So I got in the front seat with him and proceeded to go off to the golf course, on a long windy road outside of Tucson.

From the rearview mirror I saw my family in the car behind me, waving and gesturing and breathing easy in the air conditioning, while I sat there with my eyes closed, watching them in the background for a little bit. But I got this very very irregular feeling as I sat there. I opened my eyes, looked around. Grandpa was sitting there, chuckling. I started chuckling, too, out of nervousness. I said, "Grandpa, that's great. Now as soon as we get the other half of the car on the road, we'll be golden." (laughter).

However, there was some awkwardness, and a lot of it followed into the nursing home last summer. I sat there between him and Helen, and held both their hands for a little while. Then upon leaving, I pointed at him and said, "Grandpa, try and behave yourself this evening!"

He looked at me and winked and said, "I'll try." (laughter). He winked again, then took a small nap.

It seemed that he was most proud of us and enjoyed his company the most when we could all sit down and laugh together. This certainly became more true as I got older and actually had a little basis for some of the stories that he told me. As a 4-year old, I didn't understand Brown vs. Board of Education. He became entempered right away.

However, I got a fraction of a percent of a perfect score on my Constitution test in the 8th grade without having opened a book. Then he knew I'd arrived somewhat.

My last memory is - I would have to say about 15 years ago - when my mother and father and sister and I would come up one Sunday afternoon after church to spend dinner with him and my grandmother up in Winnetka. We were going to go out for a walk after dinner, and it was fall, a little crisp outside. He left out of the front door of our living room, and put on a hat, which he normally didn't wear. It wasn't that big babushka hat with the flaps on the side, but a normal kind of hat. He turned, smiled at me, and winked, and he kind of pointed and said, "Boy, you always gotta look snazzy"(laughter).

And that's it.

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