(What follows is the Eulogy as I presented it to family and friends this day for the soul of my friend William Daniel III….)
“You will have to pardon me…I am but a simple Cleric..
I am not a prolific public speaker, nor am I a philospher or a writer.
No one, not a great speaker, writer, philosopher or profound sage can sum up a man’s life in so short a time such as I have right now in front of you, and I will try to use what words I can in so short a time that I have to try and give you an idea of just what kind of man William Daniel was…
We use what words we can to describe people in our hearts, or minds, and somehow they just seem to fall short of the true meaning and depth of whom a person truly is and what they were made of.
Those who describe William will probably use words like Veteran, husband, brother, friend…but he was sop much more than that.
William was a generous man…I know many say that, but in his case it goes much further.
He would go to any length he could to help someone out even if he did not know them, and that is something not many will do in this day and age.
If there is ANYTHING he could have been faulted for it was his generous nature.
A nature that sometimes led him to helping someone even at the expense of his own self.
But one thing we cannot fault him for was that same thing: His friendly nature and outgoing spirit.
You see, William had a passion…a compelling…and it was his music.
His music he gave as freely to all as it was given to him by God.
Many who knew him remember him playing the pipes, but it went much further than that in his life.
Those who knew “Red” from his service in the U.S. Navy will tell you stories of how he used to be always laughing, or making those around him happier or more able to bear a situation that was bringing them down.
When he was a consultant to the Navy he would entertain his friends and troops with his playing, and they will tell you of how he piped the sun up in the morning or down in the evening..how he was always ready with those pipes like a writer with his pen and paper at hand..to turn what would seem a dull day into a festival.
He was a giving man…and what he gave to the world is sorely missed by those who knew him.
While he played here in downtown Aberdeen, yes, he had his case on the ground..but it was not for money or any such sordid means…he simply laid it down because it was where he marked “his patch”.
He did not care if a single coin fell into his case… his music was the expression of his soul…his gift to the world ..and his payment for that gift was to see the smiles and friendly waves of people walking by.
He wanted to give the only gift he knew how give to the people of this city which he loved so much.
Many is the time I would be downtown and the masses would be shuffling along the streets and sidwalks of Aberdeen intent on their busy lives…but then William would Skirl up his pipes and some would lift their necks, turn their heads, and step a little straighter.
And the sound of his pipes drifted across the city like flower petals falling gently on the wind.
It was pride, you see.
Pride in William was as second nature to him as breathing is to everyone else..pride in his heritage, his family, his name, This country, and his heart.
He was a proud man who knew that what simple gesture he did made others smile.
God gave men only one heart, and some give that heart to only one person or ideal.
William had TWO hearts…one resided with his family in Georgia, the other here was in Scotland with his wife.
It was this pride swelling inside of him that made him daily stand out there on Union Terrace to play to those who passed by…as if to tell them “Step proud, you are in SCOTLAND”.
Those who knew William as a friend knew he was always quick with a laugh, or a smile, and his legacy lay in that very thing.
For it is left to us, his friends, to remind the world of such people such as William… and what it means when their place is one day empty beside us.
No matter WHAT the weather, he would be out there to help those people remember the pride HE felt in this country.
He gave the only gift he knew how, and it was straight from his generous soul.
His departure has affected so very many more people than even his wife can tell you. People who knew him, or of him, and how it made their hearts and spirits lift whenever he played or simply said “howdy” with that big goofy grin on his face.
I have been downtown several times since he left us, and I have more than once heard passerbys remark “I wonder where The Piper is today?”
And in my step I pause and I see his face there under that statue with that crusty old kilt of his and that merry twinkle in his eye.
His departure from us has left a large and palpable silent gap in this community.
Aberdeen has fallen silent, and it is in that silence that we who knew him miss him the most.
This is indeed a sad day for all of us.
We have lost such a great person.
Our brother may have meant something to each and every one of you, and there are many words that come to mind when I think on Will.
A Brother to many.
A Hero and Veteran.
The Piper of Aberdeen.
A Husband to a wife.
But to so many more he was just simply our “friend”.
Whenever those friends needed to talk, even for a bit, he was always ready with his simply Southern wisdom or just his presence to help them get through their day a little lighter.
He was also the only person some could confide in.
They could talk to him about anything because he never judged or scolded them.
He always had some great advice ready for them.
He had this trait where he could always turn a dull party around.
Where he and I came from in the American South the highest accolade ANYONE could receive was not an award, or a medal, or praise for his deeds, but the simple words: He was a good man..
WILLIAM WAS A GOOD MAN.
Not many can claim that title without one person or another sniffing in the air or making a snide comment, but with William that title rings so much truer to those who knew him.
I know our brother left lots of things undone and others that he never had a chance to start.
But we promise we will continue what he has started and hopefully fulfill his dreams for him.
This is just our small way of saying thank you for everything he did for us.
There is, as I said, no words that can truly describe a person’s life in so short a time but when my time too is at hand, I know I myself pray that if I am worthy enough to enter Our Father’s kingdom, I can look forward to hearing his music from somewhere over the walls as William pipes me home.
His memory will live long in our hearts and minds as our years trod along this slow path without him.
We will miss you, my friend…we will miss your music, your smile, your laugh, and your light.