My Friend Richard...
spoken by David Vyorst 10/25/98

What can I say to honor such a friend, such a true mensch who we all loved so dearly. How can I shed any comfort at all during such a moment of grief. I can not even imagine the grief of his family, that he loved so dearly, must be feeling right now. Although I 'm glad Richard's suffering is over, it's very hard for me to envision a world without my best friend because of the incredible life force that Richard was. It is obviously tragic to see such a magnificent, beautiful man stricken in his prime, and it is very hard for me because of the very deep and special bond that we shared, through thick and thin, across continents and over decades, through good times and bad. The bond we shared is similar, I'd imagine to that of WW2 veterans who remained close. Richard and I hung out together in NY, LA, London, Geneva, France and Italy. Our bond was strong and undeniable. Richard was a friend and brother to me and the reason that it's so hard to accept the fact that he's gone is that he had such a strong, wonderful and unmistakable presence in my life and in the life of those close to him. The reason it's so hard to imagine him gone is that he was so there.

The Book of Genesis, in last weeks Torah portion, the very first reading of the Torah, tells us that God created man in his own image, and who more so than our Richard, so princely and awesome in stature and so kind and compassionate in disposition. A loving father, a great athlete, always with unmatched warmth and awesome charm. As God surely created Richard, so now Richard has surely returned to be with God.

This weeks Torah reading contains the story of Noah and the great flood. After the flood, God said to Noah, "I will not continue to curse again the ground because of man…nor will again continue to smite every living being, as I have done. Continuously, all the days of the earth, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease." The Rabbis teach us that in this God established his covenant with Noah and Noah's descendants, and that God also established the seasons and other natural limits from that point on. In fact before the flood, the world was much more limitless. There were no seasons and the generations of Adam lived many hundreds of years. Adam lived nine hundred and thirty years. After the flood came the seasons and natural limits on mankind.

Richard has certainly gone to the limitless, the world to come. And I think that may be because this world may not have been big enough for Richard. I saw Richard rise from the terrible depths to incredible heights. From the darkest corners of the Lower East Side to fantastic heights or corporate and personal success. My friend was a man who had entire nations as his business territories. With some charismatic people you always know when they enter a room. With Richard, not only did you know when he entered a room, but you knew when he entered a country. At times I was even jealous of his remarkable success and awesome charm, but Richard's example helped me to change my won life around to no small degree, by showing me not only is it possible, but with hard work the sky's the limit, and not only that, we would have a lot of fun doing it. Richard, my friend, thank you for blazing this great trail for me.

So as I mourn Richard's passing, I also celebrate the memory of his life, a life that so dearly touched my own life, a force of life that meant so much to me. A life of limitless energy, brotherhood and love. As I was thinking of Richard over the last few days, smiles and laughter broke through my tears. Smiles and laughter inspired by joy and friendship and countless cherished memories that I cannot even begin to recount. I'll leave that to Robert, who's really our archivist anyway.

So as Horatio said at the death of his prince, Hamlet, "Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

As in many occasions in my life when I traveled to someplace new, I would arrive to find that I already knew everyone, because my friend Richard was there, and of course Richard knew everyone. Today, I know when I reach the world to come, when I get to heaven, I'll already know everyone because my friend and brother, Richard, will be there waiting. So, rejoice all ye angels and hosts of heaven, because our beloved Richard is now among you.

And finally, I would be remiss in paying tribute to my friend Richard if I did not through in a Jerry quote, so, "the big wheel turns by the grace of God, and every time that wheel turns around, it's bound to cover just a little more ground."

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