The California Service

August 18, 2014


Simon’s Celebration of Life (sounds way better than funeral) was yesterday. It had a different vibe than the Texas services. Not better or worse, just different. The way folks dressed was brighter and more casual. There were less formalities. There were more tear filled eyes from friends and coworkers who were used to seeing him regularly, who were living life along side of him just weeks ago. And as one of the pastors said, in the most loving way possible, there were more “freaks.” That’s who Simon attracted. The souls who needed just a bit more love, or wanted deeper friendships, or were judged by others, or who were broken. It was not said in an offensive way, really. It was a compliment. To Simon and to us freaks.

The church was filled beyond capacity – easily over 500 people. A friend that attended the service wrote:

“Wow, the gathering of people – this looks like a funeral for a celebrity. A testimony to the way in which Simon touched peoples lives. A quote from one of the speakers here: Simon lived a life connected to God, loving people. I can personally testify what great genuine guy he was. Simon will be missed. ”

I agree. A simple man who loved Jesus and lived his life boldly should be what we deem a celebrity these days in this world.

One of the Eulogies was presented by the Scoutmaster from the local troop that our son was in. Simon had just begun helping out regularly and was looking forward to repeating many of the activities he did in his years of scouting. The Scoutmaster awarded Simon a posthumous Assistant Scoutmaster badge. Simon had also designed a Class B shirt for the troop but had not ordered it. The Scoutmaster called the company and was able to retrieve the design. The shirts arrived just hours before the service! In addition to those two items, I was presented with the American flag Simon had loaned the troop when he taught the cub scouts proper flag etiquette and folding.

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The other Eulogies were perfect.  They described Simon so poignantly.  No BS. Fiercely loyal. Intentional. Persistent. He knew the clock was ticking from the day he was born and lived life fully, boldly, and wild about Jesus. The last speaker, our Pastor, gave a clear Gospel message.  We’re hoping to post a video from the service soon but I could certainly get anyone in touch with our Pastor that has more questions about the message or this fellow named Jesus that has changed our lives and given us hope even in grief.

All three of our kids were given Build-a-Bear dolls from their classmates.  The stuffed animals had specific accessories to remind them of Simon.  Such a fun, age-specific gift that the kids were thrilled to receive.  Here is our oldest son and daughter enjoying the gifts.  No one could get our two year old to stay still enough for a picture!

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One of Simon’s favorite coworkers had this to say about his experience yesterday:

“I had an amazing moment today at Simon’s celebration of life. Words cannot begin to describe this experience. I shared this awhile back but today I heard the rest of my own story. When I was at the beginning of my sobriety, and struggling to stay clean, I had called Simon and asked him to pray for me because I didn’t know how and, honestly, I didn’t know what else to do. I knew he had a faith in something bigger than him. So today, after the tears had been shed and things began to wind down at the church, I hear my name being called.  I turn to this woman and am struggling to figure out who she is. I didn’t know her but she knew me. She said, “Simon loved you. He prayed for you all the time. We pray for you. He asked us to and many others. I had to come and talk to you and meet you.” I couldn’t believe it. A simple request to my friend, two years ago, was still being fulfilled by complete strangers. I never thought I’d get more than a few prayers from my friend not because I thought he didn’t care but just figured that was standard. To find out today that he continued to pray for me, and had cared so much that he asked others to pray for me, was moving. My heart is filled with immense gratitude for this man and these strangers that wanted nothing more than for me to find my strength and hope. Grateful.”

Thank you to all who came to the celebration and to the many, many folks that worked hard to make it so beautiful and meaningful.  From the decor, to the carefully planned speeches, to the worship music, to the salty snacks and  unsweet iced tea. Simon would have still thought it was all a big fuss but hey, it was important to the rest of us, honey.

In the stillness of this new day, with all the pomp and circumstance behind us, I received two really special notes.

A fellow widow wrote, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Your hard is different than my hard. God knows and He will bless you today. I can promise you.”

Our pastor wrote, “It’s the day after. I want you to know that we still love you and we are still here for you.”

I think we’re going to be okay.


  1. Lisa on August 18, 2014 at 11:53 am

    I have no doubt that you will be MORE than just OK.

  2. Jill Howard on August 18, 2014 at 11:57 am

    I have no doubt that my California family will be okay. Simon was an awesome guy… cousin… But his God was his awesomeness. And what a legacy to leave behind.

  3. D on August 18, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    It was an honor to attend Simon’s celebration, and we are here for you in prayer always. Love and hugs…

  4. alison werner on August 18, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    theservice for Simon moved me beyond tears; the words of love, the memories shared, the testimonies, all served to make us each aware of how we can be used for His Glory, when we let our Lord and Father have His way with us. Know that I will continue to hold you and yours up in prayer; God loves you, Alison

  5. Steve Newman on August 18, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    So glad you could receive so much love and comfort. What a great tribute to Simon. Wish we could have been there.

  6. Mike Flinchum on August 18, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    I’ll repeat what I posted on Facebook: “This was the most uplifting memorial service I ever attended. Awesome, especially so given the painful and difficult circumstances. Amazing time of testimony and memory and proclamation and worship and grieving.”

  7. MaryAnn Cooperstein on August 18, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Thank you for inviting Sam & I to the beach bonfire over 10 years ago. Thank you for including us in the “checking out this Texan”. Thank you for inviting Sam into Simon’s life. Thank you for encouraging years of a great, godly friendship. Sam is a better man by having had Simon as his closest friend. Our kids have been so blessed by having had Simon in their lives. Sammy has shared some awesome memories of Simon’s pouring into his life. Memories of sitting together in the Plymouth sound booth and enjoying each other’s company. Ironic, isn’t it, that’s where Sammy was during the memorial!
    The Coops love the Cavers 😉

  8. Susan Gaines on August 18, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    Again, thank you, Kristy.

  9. Jan on August 18, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    “Sipod” is still written on the white board up in the balcony! I promise it will not be erased as long as I have anything to say about it!! I can’t remember what the others who used to or still do hang out up there called/call themselves, but that will always stand out in my mind! I guess it was part of his “freakiness.” Love him! Miss him! And I love how much the kids’ classmates love them!! The “middle child” had just come up to me and said, “Auntie Jan, when do we get to open our presents?” I’m so glad Marissa showed up right then, because I was about to say that I didn’t know anything about presents, and that may have sparked another “middle child” breakdown! Praying for you, Kristy and family! Love you tons! And the service yesterday was perfect! I’m sure Simon was nodding with approval… Okay, maybe he doesn’t like all the attention, but the music, the style, the “vibe,” the words spoken… All so Simon!

  10. Beverly Martin on August 19, 2014 at 12:16 am

    Dear Kristy,
    Sunday’s “Celebration of Simon’s Life” was beautiful, and I left the service truly blessed. I just want to remind you that many of us had not had the opportunity to know Simon, but we know and love you and were there to support you and your family. I’m so proud of the delightful and caring woman-of-God you have become! With my love and prayers for you and your family .
    “Mrs. Martin”

  11. Irene Hahn on August 19, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Dear Kristy,
    The service was beautiful. It is the first day of the rest of your life just like every day is. Rest in the Lord, then go forth and conquer whatever you need to do. Reach out when you need to. People will be glad to help. Cry out to the Lord, pound at HIs gates. We love you and the kids, Kristy. With much love, Miss Irene.

  12. Rodellee Bas on August 19, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    I love you. Thank you for continuing to share the journey for those such as myself that were not in attendance.

  13. Alan &Marcella Schechter on August 27, 2014 at 9:29 am

    Ho all. I just want you to know that Marcella and I were so touched at Simons celebration of life. I knew simon was special. I just had no idea how special and when we entered the church and I saw all Simons things I was like. This is gona be something special. I immediately gravitated to his kindness when I met him the first time at Amtrak. He would always call me and we would swap information. In fact the way he made that tshirt for the cub scouts. He made a firm to make our job easier and he made it in two days. In fact I and every LSA at Amtrak use the form simon made today!!!! He is truly loved and I love and miss and think of him everyday!!! What a wonderful and special person he was to so many as seen at his celebration. May you and family be blessed in everything you continue to do and I know Simon and I will be seeing each other again

    All our love Marcella and Alan Schechter




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