WASHINGTON, DC – Earlier today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Largo, FL for a funeral service honoring Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-FL). Following is Speaker Boehner’s eulogy at the service, as prepared for delivery:
“The passing of our friend and comrade Bill Young brings us here to celebrate his life, and to offer our comfort to Beverly. Beverly, on behalf of all my colleagues, and all the officers and staff of the House: thank you for letting us share this moment with you and your family.
“Your loss is ours, it’s just that simple. Here was a man who loved – in this order – God, his family, his country, and the House Appropriations Committee.
“Yes, it was greedy of us to gripe when Bill gave word that he wouldn’t run again. We did it anyway.
“After all, we owed the man everything, and we had the chance to tell him that – to give our thanks, to let him know the privilege was all ours.
“A former president of the United States – a commander-in-chief – called him last week to say the same.
“Why? I’ll tell you why: because Bill Young wasn’t just a leading man of the House – he was the House. How many times did his grace preserve decorum, his word save an important measure, or his mere presence make the common into the exceptional?
“Especially when it concerned the well-being of the men and women who wore our uniform, and the defense of this nation. And the defense of the House itself.
“Bill did so much for the institution. Perhaps his greatest gift to the body was the simplest one, and that was his fundamental sense of decency.
“When you think about all the tall orders he fulfilled – all the people he had to wrangle – and yet somehow, he never uttered a cross word. Never acted in bad faith. I always really admired him for it.
“Too often, we are quick to condemn and slow to be humble. As if kindness is a weakness in these tough, bottom-line times.
“We know that just isn’t so. And we can say that because generations of Americans saw Bill Young come from nothing – a shack – to become a legend in the House of the people. They watched him do so much good after being given so little.
“There is an old saying: ‘service is the rent we pay for the space we occupy here on Earth.’ Well if that’s true, then the gentleman from Florida had paid in full a long time ago.
“We were able to tell him these things. Nothing was left unsaid. Except, of course, farewell.
“The night Bill left us, I said it would be impossible to imagine the House without him. What now? Who among us will carry on this man’s work?
“Having thought about it, I would just suggest you look at the person next to you. Because no one man or woman can fill such shoes. It will take all of us.
“So, Mr. Chairman: no need to call the roll on this one. The vote is unanimous. We will see it done.
“For now, goodbye and God bless you, my friend.”