FAREWELLS TO JUSTIN
'HIS PREMEDITATED PASSION'
JOE WASHINGTON, SON-IN-LAW OF JUSTIN DART, SPOKE AT THE DART MEMORIAL SERVICE JULY 26. PHOTO BY TOM OLIN
by Lucy Gwin
Leading a roster of impressive and compelling speakers which would include former President Bill Clinton and Adapt's Bob Kafka, the not-so-well-known Joe Washington, Justin Dart's son-in-law, spoke first and said it best: "He loved us with a premeditated passion."
Justin Dart premeditated his memorial service as well. People in attendance and those who, like me, watched it from home on C-Span, learned that Justin chose the church where it would be heldthe church of Abraham Lincoln where Martin Luther King, Jr., had later preachedand even chose his coffin.
Washington told how Justin had, more than two years before his death, commissioned him to build a plain pine coffin. It had to be yellow pine, the kind America's pioneers had been buried in.
"But don't you be in any hurry to use it," he admonished Dart when the work was done.
The coffin sat in the Washington family living room until the end of June this year when Justin passed. Then the coffin's craftsman took it outside for one final sanding. He saw a few raindrops fall on it and prepared to rush it back inside. But the sky was cloudless. The raindrops were his own tears.
If our hearts were broken by our loss, Justin's memorial service helped us rebuild them. Tacked up in front of a glass case of objects which had been sacred to himamong them the biography of Mohandas Gandhi and the Declaration of Independencewas a big sign saying, "Lead, Follow, or Get the Hell Out of the Way!"
Bill Clinton told the congregation how he'd known, coming to Washington as President, that one of his first jobs was "to suck up to Justin Dart."
What he hadn't known, he said, was how much he would enjoy doing it. "Hilary and I were just nuts about Justin Dart.... He was a wily, understanding, tenacious man and he stood by anybody, big or small, that he felt was getting run over."
While many contributed their own memories of Justin, and many paid proud tribute to his vision, Debbie Robinson, of Speaking for Ourselves, urged us to get down and do it.
"Everyone has a voice," she said. "Everyone must be heard." Then, as Debbie departed the podium to make way for another speaker, she paused and added, "Let us keep up the fight!!"
He couldn't have said it better himself.
PAGE 4 SEPT - OCT 2002 MOUTH |
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