As you already know, Pop’s funeral was held last Sunday. My brother Michael delivered the eulogy which was well-crafted and well-received. Some have asked for a copy, so it is provided here.
Eulogy for Emery Marx 15 August 2010 Greensboro, NC
200 years ago, the Marx’s were displaced from Swabia in Germany to Sieben Gerbirgen in what is now Hungary. At this point also, young married Marx couples started a tradition of coming to the USA for a while, working in sweat factories, and returning to Hungary to set up a farm. One of our forefathers was a probably a train conductor somewhere near New York. (See pocket watch)
Pop’s parents, Peter and Julia Marx, left depression-racked Hungary with their son Joseph for New Jersey. There in a town called Passaic, Emery Marx was born. Therefore, de facto, he automatically became an American citizen. When he was four, his family returned to Hungary to a village called Baconságan (pro=Bachonschargon). He was a bright, really brilliant youngster. When he went away to boarding school at the age of eleven, he got straight “A’s.” He wanted to become a cartographer (a map maker). Most of all he was passionate about church music. He played the organ sometimes in his hometown church in Baconságan and sometimes also sang solos as a young man. His brother Peter (our uncle) told me that he sang with the voice of an angel. The local girls were gaga over him. Emery never even noticed that; he was worshipping God!
When he was 17, he was pulled off his front porch and conscripted into the Hungarian army which was then fighting in the last scrimmages of World War II. Emery’s assignment was to play in their military band. (See picture). In 1945 the war ended and his unit was held in Dachau. When his fellow soldiers bellyached about their fate, Pop simply told them to shut up. While the other POWs were cleaning out the former concentration camp, Pop convinced the American’s to let him form a makeshift band to improve morale. Soon, quite a different sound rang down the rows of Hitler’s first death mill.
Returning to Hungary proved difficult. Pop couldn’t really go back to school. So he exercised his option to return to the US and reclaim his American citizenship. He never looked back. He never went back. He never talked about it. He found a job is a men’s sock factory and later went to work for a Jewish clothier on 5th Avenue in New York. He also joined the Marine reserves. When they asked him during boot camp what they should do with his body when he got “bumped off,” He simply replied: “You can keep it!” Just before he was called up for active duty during the Korean War, he asked Edith Wagner to be his wife. In other words, he convinced our mother not to become a nun. Good thing, too. He served in the 2nd Marine Division marching band in Camp Lejeune in NC where he gained a profound dislike for the music of John Philipp Sousa. So he convinced them to play his own music which he felt was of higher quality. He was very proud to be an American marine. More recently while living at an assisted living facility, he put up and took down the American flag every day. He could not bear to see the flag rained on or hanging in the dark.
Going back to his life in the 60’s, Pop would not have any of that anti-war stuff. He was a proud Republican and a patriot. He identified strongly with the American pioneer spirit of self-determination. He taught himself flawless English, yet never managed to lose his Hungarian accent. This is because Pop’s brain was hyper-sensitive to details – an extreme dichotomistic thinker; but don’t let me get started on that. In New Jersey he got a job as systems analyst and later a software programmer. He taught himself Fortran, Cobol, and SPSS. He played seven instruments perfectly: the tuba, the trombone, the trumpet, the drums, the piano, the organ and the melodica. And he never practiced. Sometimes he played, and occasionally directed, a German oompah-pah band and later became the choir director at St Catherine’s Catholic Church; a position he held for 17 years.
Pop was the happiest when he could lead people in praise. He best liked worship songs which exalt God and lifted high His name. Songs like: “How great thou art” and “Holy, holy, holy.” He strongly believed that sacred music should be pure praise. He wrote boxes and boxes of worship music in Latin. He never felt that anyone but God should be glorified in church music. So he simply signed all of his music with “M.F.” which meant “magnificent fraud.” Later when he became the Minister of Music at Guilford Baptist Church, he wrote several cantatas and even a musical. Nevertheless, he insisted – no, he demanded –that worship music should be of the highest quality. Some of you were victims of his lessons in Latin pronunciation. “Gloria in excelsis Deo.” In his words, he pronounced it: ”Gloria in EGG SHELLsis Deo.”
He was a multi-talented artist. He painted four scenes of Vienna, Austria as a mural on our living room wall in New Jersey. (See picture) He spent 500 hours doing so. When we moved to North Carolina, the first thing the new owners did was to paint it over. He never complained about that. He built amazing cabinets in the laundry room here. He also built a patio in the back doing all the brickwork himself. These were labors of love for his wife and his family. Some of you might have seen some of his excellent cross-stitch or Pretty Punch. This is how he felt most comfortable expressing love. He made stuff or he did stuff for those he loved.
And he was unyieldingly loyal. A faithful husband, a dedicated employee and a devoted fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers before they moved to Los Angeles, the NC State Wolfpack, the Carolina Panthers, the Western Guilford Hornets, and Tiger Woods. He liked buttermilk pancakes, grapes and bananas. He didn’t like picky food like lobster or crab. He was a no-nonsense kind of guy. He worked for 31 year for the Ciba-Giegy Corporation. He never complained about any type of work and detested whining. He did, however, have this very cute way of trying to hide his fondness for cigarettes. Probably all of us can remember the endearing way he would sneak around the corner for a smoke. On the other hand, he liked a hearty beer or a good glass of wine and really could have cared less what his Baptist friends might have thought of that.
Was he a kind man? No.
Was he considerate? Not really.
Was he easy to get along with? Hardly.
Was he sensitive? Very.
He was faithful, loyal, dependable and honest.
He was a man of high integrity: he meant what he said and did what he meant. He kept every promise and never cheated on anything.
What I would like you to take home with you about Emery Marx was his never look back attitude in life. He accepted his circumstances without complaining. He finished every task more than 100%. When I asked my Mother yesterday how I should finish this eulogy, she gave me an example of how Pop spent his time as his life was nearing its end. I think this is an example for us all.
She said: “He read his Bible every morning. Towards the end, he couldn’t really get anything out of it, but he did it anyway. Then he would go to sleep in his chair for the rest of the day.”