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Gerald Levin, R.I.P.

Gerald Levin, R.I.P.

This is the Eulogy I Gave for my Dad on May 28

I’d like to share a few memories with you about my dad, Gerry Levin.

Dad was an incredibly giving man. One evening, when I was a teenager we were eating dinner, fried chicken from Jim Dandy, a family favorite. As I was about to reach for the last piece, my Dad, who hadn’t see me looking at it fondly, picked it up and put it on his plate. When I sighed, he looked in my eyes, took it off his plate and put it on mine, with a smile. I looked at my mom and asked, “Why did he do that?” and she said “because your father loves you”.

Dad took me to sporting events although I knew that he really did not like sports. But he did it because he knew I enjoyed them.

Dad supported me in Boy Scouts, going on campouts and sleeping on the ground when he would have rather been in a bed. He made sure I had all the support and guidance so that I would become an Eagle Scout, and I know he would be proud that his grandson Adam became an Eagle. I’m sorry that Dad will miss Adam’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor next month.

Dad was a gifted musician and singer, playing piano into the evenings, singing and teaching us his favorite Broadway show tunes. He even got me to appreciate opera, a feat by any stretch of the imagination.

Dad was incredibly creative. In fact, he invented his own language, which at one point he apparently convinced my mom was Russian. He was in fact kidding her, and much to his chagrin, at a social event, this came home to roost when I understand that some newly introduced friends tried to engage Dad in a conversation in Russian, because they had heard that he spoke the language.

It was my dad who got me interested in plants and gardening, perhaps the original impetus for what I pursue in my life’s work now, growing and propagating endangered species plants. I can remember at a very early age walking through our garden with Dad, sampling herbs he was growing, and learning from him that the flower petals from the guava tree are edible, and that the Liquidambar is one of the only trees in Southern California that produces beautiful fall foliage.

Dad motivated me to go to Harvard, and for many years, we enjoyed joining each other at the local Harvard Yale football game telecasts.

Dad was also an very caring doctor. He was always looking for ways to treat his patients with dignity and save them money while giving them the best medical care possible, and I know this because I worked in his office as a teenager. It was so much more important for him that a patient be well than what or whether they were paying him. Giving time at the Free Clinic and teaching interns and residents at UCLA was just as important to him as his medical practice.

Dad was the kind of person who did the right thing when no one else was watching. I remember him giving back change to a sales clerk who had given him too much, and she never would have known the difference. He would tell me that he had to look himself in the eye each morning when he shaved.

Dad realized that what mattered was not what he got, but what he gave. He measured his success not by what he earned, but by the people he was able to help.

My dad, Gerry Levin, lived a life that mattered and I want to thank each of you for coming to celebrate his life today.

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Gerald Levin, R.I.P.