Tonight I share with you the tribute written and shared by my brother-in-law Dan….
In the past, my family has gathered and enjoyed so much of life, laughed, shared, celebrated and occasionally cried together…
This past week we cried more than ever, but still shared moments of laughter and wonderful memories…
Dan’s tribute captures those memory moments in such a delightful way….thank you Dan for inviting us to laugh and celebrate the funny and generous guy Len was….
My name is Dan DeKam and I am married to Len’s sister, Arlene. It is my honor to be here today.
Men aspire to have lived a life of significance. We want to leave our mark, to have made a difference. I don’t fully understand this desire, but I do believe it originates in our created nature – for God has made us in his image- creative, purposeful, lovers -= God created us to develop, unfold, explore and take delight in his creation – making this world all that he intended.
I know that Len felt this calling strongly. He longed to live the moment, to experience the unusual, to push the limits. He loved extravagance and longed to “suck the marrow” from the bones of his existence.
There is a lot to learn from the way Len approached life. I am better for having learned from him. He was generous and kind. His love for adventure was contagious and often very funny.
Shortly after 9/11, Arlene and I visited Len and Marc in Bremerton, Washington where they were living on the naval base. When we arrived, Len had been playing with Noah. Len was wearing a superman t-shirt and a child’s sized cape. After some small talk, Len offered to take my on a quick tour of the base. l We got in the car and within minutes we found ourselves having to ignore some “restricted access” signs to see the really interesting stuff. At this point, the military police vehicles swooped in. Blocking any exit. Confidently, as was the norm for Len, Len exited the car to approach the very serious looking MP’s. I am unsure what was the most compelling reason the MPs let us go – whether it was Lens credentials or the superman shirt and cape – but judging by the amused look on their faces, the cape didn’t hurt the argument.
Golfing: Lens golf game mirrored the way he approached life – and this made him a great partner. Not just because shooting the lowest score seemed secondary. Golfing was all about having the most memorable drive, sinking the longest putt, making the hardest shot out of the rough. Crushing it!!! Being safely in the middle of the fairway was almost boring. I think Len liked it just as much when his partners succeeded as when he did (well, except maybe for Andy, that just gets tiring) — And along the way – enjoy a cigar.
Some of favorite memories come from Nichols Lake – our annual cottage week at a small lake in Northern MI.
-Len did not fish much – but when he did it was never for blue gill. Typically, he would have a huge hook, some weights, and a big hunk of meat – maybe sausage or beef – whatever leftover was available. He said he was after a huge catfish, but I think that he was secretly hoping to be the first to catch a freshwater Marlin or shark.
-One year Len had made a trip to a Native American Indian reservation in the UP and came back with a load of fireworks. We didn’t dare set them off from the shore, so we tied a couple of rowboats together and rowed out a short distance. With Len and I in one boat and the fireworks in the other, our plan was to light the fireworks and then gently push the other boat away from us. We did not anticipate that when the rope became taut, the recoil would draw the boats together again. We saw most of those fireworks from an uncomfortably close viewpoint – but I can also still hear Len laughing through it all.
– Lens cooking at the cottage also became somewhat of an obsession. Always over the top, always good. I think this was a way that Len expressed his love for his family. Sharing this extravagance with them demonstrated what was in his heart.
There are other stories, all demonstrating Len’s zest for life. And to bring us back to the beginning – they demonstrate how Len succeeded in living a life of significance, for he made a difference in all of our lives. He taught us to love, laugh and live. I am thankful for having known him and thankful for what he helped me to learn – for what he helped us all to learn. While we are comforted to know the assurances and Len and all of us have in Christ, our hearts will miss him.