Eulogy - Teddy Mayoff 1939-1999
"WHY IS A FISH WHEN IT SWIMS? BECAUSE THE MORE IT TRIES, THE MUCH!" Teddy Mayoff, 1962
I'd like to tell you about our early days. I'll start with our grandparents Tova Katz and his wife Frima Horowitz. They had three children - Sam, Rachel and Sylvia. Each of these children had a son not long after the passing of Tova, and in his memory each was named in his honor. There was Theodore Katz, Theodore Steven Mayoff and Stephen Theodore Gertsman. Stephen Gertsman was obviously called Stevie, but here were two cousins with the same first name, so they called Teddy Katz "The Big Teddy" and Teddy Mayoff, "The little Teddy."
Today we come to remember and honor the Little Teddy.
Let me tell you about the Little Teddy. Before he was eight years old he became a Hero. In the summer of 1947 our family was up in the Laurentians and Little Teddy was at the dock when his little 4 year old brother fell off the pier into the lake. Rather than running away, he began calling for help. Maybe calling was the wrong word. It was yelling. Moe, his father, came running around the building to find out what the racket was all about. The Little Teddy said "He fell in the lake." Moe dove into the lake and at Teddy's direction, Moe was able to rescue his little brother. That brother was me. Gee, the Little Teddy was not so little now. He was a BIG hero, at the age of 8.
Let's jump ahead a few years. The College Bowl. The College Bowl? The College Bowl was a TV program on early Sunday evenings, if I recall. You see, Sunday was do it yourself Pizza night in our home. We were allowed to create and bake our own pizza every Sunday. Mother would provide us with a Chef Boy ar dee pizza mix and we'd roll out the dough, let it rise and decorate it. Once baked, we'd watch the College Bowl and eat pizza. I can remember Teddy writing a letter to Chef Boy Ar Dee commenting on the Chef's hat worn by the character on the pizza box. Well, in a few weeks there was Teddy wearing the same tall Chef's hat they had sent him and baking our pizza. No sir ree... He was no LITTLE Teddy to Susan and I. Wearing that Chef's hat he was a Big Teddy.
Lets skip ahead to our teen age years and Teddy's love for music. Teddy loved music. With the encouragement of our musician father, Teddy seemed a natural with music. Not being a virtuoso didn't stop him. There were Drums, Piano, Guitar, Mandolin, Clarinet, Cornet Accordian, Harmonica, Recorder and Trumpet and I can't recall what else. Poor Susan - she had Teddy at one end of the house blowing on the trumpet and me at the other end beeping away in morse code on my ham set. Then came lovingly the worst part. Teddy began to sing. Oh would there ever be peace on Van Horne again?
Added to Teddy's love for music was his mesmerizing knack for mathematics. Throughout high school Teddy always aced his math exams. If he took three math courses, he would get three one hundreds. On his Matrics he scored four one humdreds in math. No Little Teddy here!
In the summer of 1961, I believe, Teddy who was already in the Royal Canadian Air Force reserves, encouraged me to participate too. So I signed up and started to learn how to be a flight control operator. And who was my instructor? You guessed it! - My big brother, the Little Teddy. But no little Teddy here. - It was Corporal Teddy! You should have seen us walking the two or three miles in full uniform to our squadron every morning. Boy were we sharp!
After I left to find fame and fortune in California, and love - Teddy decided to return to college and trade in his teaching credential for a CA. What a better way would it be for a mathematician to use this wonderful gift. With the support of his young wife Linda, Teddy set in motion a plan to provide for his future family. And he was still doing it last week.
In our family he was never the Little Teddy. He was just Teddy! Today he is my Big Teddy and I will miss him.
"I have never seen a purple cow,
and I hope I never see one.
But I can tell you anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one." Teddy Mayoff
Teddy - I'm going to miss you. Say hello to Mom and Dad for us.
Written and delivered by Aug 5, 1999
248 Baker Street
Benicia, California, 94510
Permission to publish with credit is approved.