1910 - 1999
Mitch’s father, Fred Thrower, was born in 1910 in Tampa, Florida. He was a New York television executive who created the famous Yule Log in 1966. He served as a Navy lieutenant and a Special Intelligence officer in the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) during World War II, parts of which will be included in Mitch’s wife Amanda’s upcoming novel.
Dad's life was shaped by the history of a generation like none other.
When Dad was born in 1910, China abolished slavery;
When he was 2, the Titanic sank;
When he was 4, World War I started;
When he was 8, airmail service began;
When he was 9, dial telephones were introduced;
When he was 10, Prohibition went into effect and Henry Ford's Model T was the most popular car;
When he was 12, the Lincoln Memorial was built;
When he was 15, Lou Gehrig joined the New York Yankees;
When he was 17, television was demonstrated for the first time;
When he was 18, the Oxford English dictionary was introduced;
At 19 he witnessed the disappearing of 30 billion dollars, as the great depression hit;
When he was 20, Pluto was discovered;
When he was 24, the FCC was created.
He was 31 when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.
He was 34 when the first computer was built, and when Ann Frank was found in hiding.
He was 35 when they counted the 50 million deaths of W.W.II.
He was 38 when television began its boom.
He was 47 when the first Satellite was launched.
He was 53 when JFK was killed.
He was 59 when Armstrong walked on the moon.
He was 69 and the Walkman was introduced.
He was 79 when Reagan was elected.
He was 89 when the World Wide Web of the Internet connected people around the world.
Dad's life was shaped by a changing world.
Time is a curious thing, death stands before all of us, for some far away, and for some quite near.
Funerals are filled with gifts of reflection, memories, and of hopes and regrets. Today we celebrate a life indeed. We smile with the memory, we cry with the loss, and we celebrate the gifts.
Dad did not want to have a funeral, or a service, he said to me once "who would come? Most of my friends are dead" I guess not, Dad.
Thank you everyone for coming, I'm sure Dad is donning a grateful smile today.
Fred M. Thrower seemed to live several lives.
There was the life in Florida, as a boy, growing up exploring, fishing, hunting and dissecting things in the hopes of attending medical school one day.
There was the life in new and exciting New York City in the late 20's and 30's, starting out at the music library at NBC radio.
There was the life during the war, traipsing up to the front lines with his special unit assigned to talk the Germans into surrendering.
There was the life in New York after the war, building his career, getting married, moving to Greenwich and having his first daughter Wendy
There was the life at WPIX.
There was the life back in New York, where he met my mom, had two children, my departed sister Stacey, and Frederick Mitchell Thrower III
There was the life Dad had living on the lake in upstate New York, shooting for the perfect cast, and getting me up before the sun came up to try to catch a big old bass, he was sure he had on the line once before. It's likely a good time to make a confession, Dad, I really don't care for fishing that much, I just did it to be able to spend time with you.
There was the life Dad had when he moved back to Greenwich 15 years ago, and befriended an angel, whom became his special companion, and who was special in every way to him, Barbara Lowe. Barbara also had the gift of being at his side when he went to what he called "his everlasting fishing trip."
Few people are granted the wish to live as long as my father did, and fewer still the wish to live such a full life.
When we started recording his memoirs on video last year - his first comments were, "but if I tell the story of my life, no one will believe me! The strangest things have happened." And indeed, they had.
I also can recall Dad's reply to one of the memoir questions "Dad, what advice would you give your grandson about women?"
To which after a long pause, he said
"Run like the dickens"
Fewer people still were granted the gifts and memories that Fred Thrower bestowed on those around him.
The love of life
How to be a True Gentleman
The love of chocolate ice cream
Teaching his children to drive his car around the lawn at age 7
The love of the outdoors
How to give our dog - muffin baths
The love of work
The love of people
A sense of humor
The love of music
How to give from the heart
The love of reading
How to look up into the clouds and imagine things forming in the white puffs of heaven
The passion for ideas
The reading of the night before Christmas, every night before Christmas in his big red robe.
The whistle that became our family greeting and that I can hear every time I close my eyes. The whistle that said, I love you and you mean the world to me. Whoot Whoo, Whoot Whoo.
The most challenging and biggest gift however comes in the form of a true story.
As many of you know, Dad had what is known as a Defibrillator, which would shock his heart back to life when it would get into trouble. And over the past few years, his heart got in some trouble and the machine shocked him back. This past July, Dad really did die in my arms, here in Greenwich, his heart had stopped. Dad had died with no vitals, for exactly 19 seconds.
And as I went out to call 911, he suddenly called me back "Mitchell, where are you?" The machine had shocked his heart back to life. It was then that he brought me the most beautiful gift that can be brought to someone on earth.
For he told me there with an expression of amazement, that he was just in the most beautiful place he had ever seen, and that its beauty was something he did not think could exist. It was like a garden he said, and there was a little boy there, and he did not remember much, but he saw it and he decided that he just had to come back and tell me about it.
So for the gift of a first hand sight of heaven, and knowing what he would now go through after he returned, I will thank him every day of my life. For I have a very different feeling when I now say Our father who art in Heaven.
Dad also was given the gift of being able to say goodbye to many of his close friends, and even dictate a few letters, which you cant read without crying from the sheer love that his last words communicated.
People that knew Dad in his time working understand what I mean when I say he was a true idea man. He always had a way to make things better, to make this world a bit easier for people at work and at home, by devising the Christmas beauty of the Yule Log, and by creating wooden rabbit hutches for my sister Stacey, when she was battling cancer.
He hung closely to his ideas, I can even remember, recently, in the hospital on the eve of a extensive heart surgery, he could not sleep until I had transcribed his entire plan to have the hospital to get combs that were not as sharp so that they would not hurt the patients, or his idea on how to get a Walkman into hospital testing rooms, to make people less afraid, by playing their favorite music. Dad was a man that gave this world 89 years of ideas, of contribution, and of love.
On the day he died, Dad had all but lost the ability to speak, however if something was important, he would struggle to make it clear. And I'll never forget his almost inaudible mumble "Mitch, I love you a lot too."
As a conclusion to these thoughts, I would like to end with a quote, and ask everyone to close their eyes for just a second.
"Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used to. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner."