Epsilon Sigma Phi
The Extension Professionals' Organization

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Memorial Service Ceremony

At the national conference and at many chapter meetings a memorial service is held to honor those ESP members having recently deceased.  This page offers five potential ceremonies that have been used at previous meetings.  You are welcome to adopt these for your use. If you have a difference ceremony that you have used in your chapter, please send it to us so we can can share it here on this site. 


It seems appropriate to think about some of the special gifts we have received from those members of ESP who died during the past year--gifts of friendship, knowledge, and inspiration. We honor the memory of those members who, through their lives, enriched others and us. Their names appear in our annual report and we hope you will take a moment to think of those people who were special to you in your personal experience. The candles with bows tied on the holders represent the gifts we received from these special people.

Let us begin by lighting the first candle in memory of the gift of friendship.

For Extension workers, it often happens that our co-workers become close friends. Through long days of work, rides in the car, shared hotel rooms, and service to our profession, our working relationship turns into friendship. Helen Steiner Rice wrote this poem about friendship.

Don’t count your age by the years you’ve known,

But by the friends you’ve made and the kindness sown. For life is not measured by the years that you live, But by the deeds you do, and the joys you give.

We light the second candle in honor of the gift of knowledge gained from these departed friends.

As Extension professionals, they pledged to improve the lives of individuals, families, and communities. Unselfish by nature, innate educators, and people-oriented, they were positive role models influencing decisions, methods, and outcomes. This resulted in the living legacy of an improved environment in their respective ―corner of the world. They gave their todays for our tomorrows. To paraphrase Henry Adams, “A great teacher affects eternity. One never knows were his or her influence stops.”

Finally, let us light the third candle in honor of the gift of inspiration we have drawn from these co-workers.

Let us reflect on the ways in which the lives of these fellow workers have touched ours perhaps as a mentor; perhaps as an office co-worker; perhaps as a supervisor; perhaps we shared committee responsibilities; or perhaps they paved the way before we began our work. In some way, we were colleagues and friends and they will remain in our memories. Nancy Gross said, “Memories are a gift from God to those left behind. They bring comfort, joy, and laughter, and they enable us to live forever in the hearts of those we love.”

Please stand for a moment of silent reflection as we celebrate these lives and their special place in our hearts. MOMENT OF SILENCE

Ursala K. LeGuin said, “It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.” Let us hope that these dear friends had a good journey. For their being, their inspiration, their friendship and our hope; let our thoughts be a tribute to their memory. You may be seated.

Thank you. (Extinguish candles)

ESP National ESP Conference, 1999 Prepared by Marilyn Schnittjer NC Regional VP, Iowa


We, who are gathered here this day, take a moment to recognize the significance of fellowship with our members who have recently departed.

Each has labored diligently to make a contribution to humanity through his or her chosen work in the Extension System. May their efforts serve as an encouragement for us to seek opportunities to assist others in meaningful endeavors. Although their labors are complete, the task of education continues. Our labor is unfinished and calls us as it called to those fellow colleagues whose memories and examples we cherish today. As we read these names, we not only honor the memory of our former colleagues, but perhaps most importantly, we thereby affirm to ourselves the dignity and worth of lives dedicated to enlightenment through educational service. We also reflect on the uplift, the development, and the fulfillment in the lives of those with whom we are privileged to work.

May we, like they, possess those qualities of mind and spirit that contributes to our labor and gives satisfaction from our work.

Our records show that the following members of our chapter passed on this year:

(Read names of deceased followed by a moment of silence.)

Let us honor the memory of these departed colleagues by bringing to the opportunities and tasks of each day, no less dedication and devotion than they brought to theirs.


We are gathered together to celebrate with joy and remember with sadness, the builders of Epsilon Sigma Phi who have died during this past year.

Their strength is symbolized through the changes we see in nature. We are ever mindful of the contributions each has made to Epsilon Sigma Phi and to Extension education programs.

(Start projecting a series of slides corresponding to the scenes in nature described in the text.)

Like the trees, their accomplishments will continue to stand long after our departure.

Some of our co-workers worked long years and experienced every season of life, while others departed at an earlier time.

Each one made a unique contribution to our clientele, our program, and our administration.

We must continue to cherish our past--but be ever mindful of our future as we, too, prepare for the seasons of change within our own lives.

Each one of our departed colleagues added the beauty of flowers, buds, and color to our lives.

Let us remember to do the same as we live, with joy, through the seasons of life--in tribute to their memory.

Will you stand with me now during a moment of remembrance for our loved ones, who, as members of Epsilon Sigma Phi, continue to inspire each of us in spirit and beauty.


When great trees fall, rocks on the distant hills shudder, lions hunker down in tall grasses, and even elephants lumber after safety.

When great trees fall in forests, small things recoil into silence, their senses eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die, the air around us becomes light, rare, sterile. We breathe, briefly. Our eyes, briefly, see with hurtful clarity. Our memory, suddenly sharpened, examines, gnaws on kind words unsaid, promised walks never taken.

Great souls die and our reality, bound to them, takes leave of us. Our souls, dependent upon their nature, now shrink, wizened. Our minds, formed and informed by their radiance, fall away. We are not so much maddened as reduced to the unutterable ignorance of dark, cold caves.

And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly. Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration. Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed. They existed. We can be. Be and be better. For they existed.

SOURCE: I Shall Not Be Moved, Maya Angelou


We light this candle in celebration of the lives of our colleagues and friends who have died since last we met.

Their philosophy is reflected by that of Alice Freeman Palmer, who was the second president of Wellesley College. It was said of her that she was happiest when she was doing most for others. When she left the college, she gave herself so tirelessly to her self-imposed task of lightening the burdens of the unfortunate that her husband objected. He thought she should give her time and strength to writing books which would make her still more famous. ―You are building no monument, he said. ―When you are gone, people will ask who you are, and no one will be able to say. ―Well, why should they? was the answer. ―I am trying to make girls happier and wiser. Books don’t help much toward that. It is people that count. You want to put yourself into people; they touch other people; these, others still, and so you go on working forever. (John T. Faris)

Through their leadership and teaching, our Extension friends have touched the lives of countless others, and they leave us with a legacy of outstanding contributions, enhancing the lives of individuals and communities. We are truly blessed by their distinguished careers in service to this country.

(Music under)

I’m sure you are probably familiar with the poem about the Bridge Builder, but I would like to share it with you as a fitting tribute to those who have dedicated their lives through Extension.

The Bridge Builder

An old man traveling a lonely highway, came at the evening cold and gray,

To a chasm vast and deep and wide,

Through which was flowing a sullen tide,

The old man crossed in the twilight dim, the sullen tide held no fears for him; But he turned when safe on the other side. And built a bridge to span the tide.

―Old man, cried a fellow pilgrim near, ―You’re wasting your time in building here,

Your journey will end with the closing day;

You never again will pass this way. You have crossed the chasm deep and wide, Why build you this bridge at the even-tide? The builder lifted his old gray head;

―Good friend, in the path I have come, he said,

―There followeth after me today

A youth whose feet must pass this way.

This stream which has been as naught to me, To that fair-haired youth may pitfall be; He, too, must cross in the twilight dim

Good friend, I am building this bridge for him.

(Will Allen Dromgoole)

(Music up. Solo ―Wind Beneath My Wings‖ Bernadette Watts) (Music under)

Please stand with me in a moment of silence in honor of the lives we remember this day.......................

He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s bounty or failed to express it; who has looked for the best in others and given the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory is a benediction. (Mrs. A. J. Stanley)

ESP National ESP Conference, 2000 Prepared by Eleanor Wilson NE Region VP, Washington, D.C.

Epsilon Sigma Phi is a
501(c)3 non-profit organization.

55 Walton Place Drive
Newnan, GA 30263

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