A Dedication to Mr. Robert West

Eulogy by Jay Larry

I can't be there with you today but wanted you to know that you are in my thoughts. Words are inadequate. There is no expression that can lessen, mitigate, alleviate, or assuage the pain of loss that you are feeling.

As a little kid, I thought that Robert West was the President or protector of black people. Whenever something was wrong, whenever you needed something, whether it was money, a job, or getting someone out of jail, you would hear the adults say "you need to go see Robert West".

When I first saw Robert West, my life changed. He was the first black man that I had seen that carried himself with pride and dignity, and didn't grovel before the white man. To a young black boy growing up in the rural segregated south, that was radical- - to see a well dressed black entrepreneur who looked the white man eye to eye.

He was a paragon, a beacon, illuminating the possibilities of what we could all be, not by calling attention to himself, but by example, by deed, and by never being too important to take time with a little boy as unimportant as me. He was, and still is, larger than life. Whether it was a wink, a smile, or a pat on the head, he made you feel on top of the world.

Yes, you are grieving now. Regardless of how empathetic I want to be, I could never comprehend your loss. You had a father who loved you. You had a father who was there for you everyday. You have been blessed. Because of your father, I too have been blessed. Not only was he there for you, he was an example for me, Larry, Wendell, and all of your friends whose fathers were not around. It is because of his example that I now "work from the neck up", and dared to think that I too could become a business man.

Big, I can't possibly fathom what you are feeling. Your father was a great man. While you morn his loss, please take time to celebrate his legacy. His influence goes ever on, on you, on me, and the world in which he lived. You and Denise are in my prayers. May god bless and keep you.

Your friend,

Jay Larry