Friday, March 28, 2014

Serenity Now

Take it calmly and serene
It's the famous final scene....
- Bob Seger

James Rebhorn died last Friday.  He was sixty-five.  If you are - as I am - a person who has watched more than your fair share of television and movies over the course of the last four decades or so, then you most assuredly know his face.  Even if you did not - for sure - know his name.  If you watch "Homeland" on Showtime, then you know him as the father of Claire Danes' Carrie Mathison.  He was the prosecutor in "My Cousin Vinny".  He was the Secretary of Defense in "Independence Day".  He was good at what he did and was rewarded for it with a career in Hollywood that spanned decades.  If you saw the George Street Playhouse's revival of "Twelve Angry Men" two years ago as the Missus and I did, then you know him from that as well.  

Mr. Rebhorn died last Friday after a battle with melanoma.  Apparently as he found himself locked in mortal combat with this insidious disease, he opted to do something that I have often teased my wife I hope to do while I still have time to do it.  He wrote his own obituary.  And having read it, I must say that it is quite remarkable: 

His Life, According to Jim

James Robert Rebhorn was born on Sept. 1, 1948, in Philadelphia, PA. His mother, Ardell Frances Rebhorn, nee Hoch, loved him very much and supported all his dreams. She taught him the value of good manners and courtesy, and that hospitality is no small thing. His father, James Harry Rebhorn, was no less devoted to him. From him, Jim learned that there is no excuse for poor craftsmanship. A job well done rarely takes more or less time than a job poorly done. They gave him his faith and wisely encouraged him to stay in touch with God.

He is survived by his sister, Janice Barbara Galbraith, of Myrtle Beach, SC. She was his friend, his confidant, and, more often than either of them would like to admit, his bridge over troubled waters.

He is also survived by his wife, Rebecca Fulton Linn, and his two daughters, Emma Rebecca Rebhorn and Hannah Linn Rebhorn. They anchored his life and gave him the freedom to live it. Without them, always at the center of his being, his life would have been little more than a vapor. Rebecca loved him with all his flaws, and in her the concept of ceaseless love could find no better example.

His children made him immensely proud. Their dedication to improving our species and making the world a better place gave him hope for the future. They deal with grief differently, and they should each manage it as they see fit. He hopes, however, that they will grieve his passing only as long as necessary. They have much good work to do, and they should get busy doing it. Time is flying by. His son-in-law, Ben, also survives him. Jim loved Ben, who was as a son to Jim, especially through these last months.

His aunts Jean, Dorothy and Florence, numerous cousins and their families, and many devoted friends also survive Jim. He loved them all, and he knows they loved him.

Jim received his BA at Wittenberg University and his MFA at Columbia. He was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Nu Zeta 624, a life-long Lutheran, and a longtime member of both the AMC and ACLU.

Jim was fortunate enough to earn his living doing what he loved. He was a professional actor. His unions were always there for him, and he will remain forever grateful for the benefits he gained as a result of the union struggle. Without his exceptional teachers and the representation of the best agents in the business, he wouldn’t have had much of a career. He was a lucky man in every way.

–Jim Rebhorn, March 2014

A graceful, gracious exit from a life well-lived by a man well-loved.  A better finish it could not have been had it been scripted by Shakespeare and shot by Scorcese.  The words that serve as his final words serve as a lesson for us all as well....


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