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Monday, March 13, 2006


Service of Remembrance: what Bob Bernecky said

I'm Robert Bernecky. Mary Lee called me Bobbo.

The first time I visited Mary Lee in the hospital, she immediately eyed the new Irish sweater I was wearing. She then grabbed the fabric, rubbed it in her hand, and nodded approval; only then did she say hello, and forthrightly tell me she was dying.

It's always hard to lose a friend, but we can lessen the grief by looking at the legacy of joys they left for us.

Mary Lee and I worked together for at least 25 years. I'm going to mention some things that she took delight in.

We have to start with chocolate. Of course. We continue with good food, then wine. White wine. Of course.

Mary Lee enjoyed these things, but her true delights arose from what she gave to others, in the form of such diverse activities as dance, clothing design, and music. Her creativity in these endeavors graced us with a beauty that reflected that of her own radiant smile.

Mary Lee is no longer with us, but her smile remains, Cheshire cat-like, to appear whenever we delight in great chocolate, good food and wine, when we see superb dance, exquisite clothing, and when we listen to the sweet music of the pan.


Postscript by Bob:

I think I was the causative factor in getting Mary Lee involved with pan music. I had been working in Caribana and going down to Trinidad to work with Peter Minshall on Carnival for several years, and had started to play tenor pan with Afropan. Mary Lee took an interest, and came down to Trinidad with me one year, where she immediately got hooked on Phase II and Fonclaire.

When we returned, she took up tenor pan with Afropan, and rapidly left me behind in terms of her skill, artistry; she went on to play a strong organizational role in the bands she worked with.

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