Volume 3, Number 156
'There's a Jewish story everywhere'

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Homer Delawie, 1927-2009

San Diegans will remember architect Homer Delawie Monday, July 20, at Balboa Park fountain he designed

Editor's Note: Architect Homer Delawie died June 26, 2009 at the age of 81. Cantor Sheldon Merel officiated at the funeral service and delivered the eulogy below. Because of Delawie's many contributions to the City of San Diego, and his affiliation with Congregation Beth Israel, we feel it important to reprint the eulogy and include it with our Jewish historical archive

Time is not measured by the years that you live but by the deeds that you do and the joy that you give, and each day as it comes brings a chance to each one to love to the fullest, leaving nothing undone that would brighten the life or lighten the load of some weary traveler lost on life's road -so what does it matter how long we may live if as long as we live we unselfishly give.

By Cantor Sheldon F. Merel

I believe  this short paragraph aptly (above) describes Homer Delawie, who  gave as he received, and lightened the load of many weary travelers who shared his life.  

My wife, Marcie and I , have known homer and Ettie socially, and as co-volunteers for the Jewish Family Service.   It was always a delight to be with them, and when I greeted Homer with a firm handshake, I felt his warmth and knew he was totally focused in our conversation, however brief.

Since this was only the tip of the iceberg of my knowledge of him, I immediately went on- line and 'Googled' Homer’s name after Ettie and Shandell asked me to conduct this service.   

Page after page popped up on my computer describing Homer’s amazing architectural portfolio.  As I am sure, most of you already know, he was a giant in his field, a master architect, and an icon in his profession.

Homer received over 65 design awards. To name just a few: a distinguished alumni award from his alma mater, Cal Poly Tech School of Architecture, an award from the National Urban Land Institute, and a  presidential citation. He received the Department of Defense’s highest award two times, in 1972 and 1973.

There are two quotes from the Talmud’s Pirke Avot, saying of the fathers that immediately came to mind as I learned more about Homer. The ancient rabbi Shimon said, “there are three crowns: the crown of torah, (or learning), the crown of priesthood and the crown of royalty; but the crown of a good name excels them all."

Another quote from the Talmud is by the famous Rabbi Hillel, who urged our people “do not separate yourself from your community.”  

Homer’s lifetime of outstanding professional achievements and his personal life of integrity was a balance of teaching, learning, serving and sharing. He never separated himself from this community, and through his personal example truly earned the crown of a good name, a respected name.

Homer was an integral part of his community, and shared his love of architecture with colleagues, newcomers to his field, and regularly visited primary grade and high schools to teach children about architecture, color, form and texture. He lectured on city planning and environmental issues, and for 20 years invited students from his college alma mater in San Luis Obispo to spend a full day in his San Diego office to experience the reality of being an architect.  He was a mentor and role model for many newcomers to his field. And taught them what he believed strongly, “if you don’t consider architecture as a way of life, you shouldn’t be doing it."

He served on boards of the Museum of Man, Children’s’ Museum, was an overseer for the UCSD board, and was deeply

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Homer loved people, and that was how he related to his clients, explaining every aspect of his design, and listening to their wishes. He earned their respect, gratitude and when the house was completed they became his friends.  His long time friend, Mel Goldzband, told me about another side of Homer, who enjoyed playing with all kind of toys:  mechanical, noisy or musical, and particularly got a kick out of being the engineer on Mel’s miniature train set.

As we all know, behind every successful man is a great woman, and Ettie was that woman. Thirty six years ago, she and homer joined their two families into one household. He designed and built a unique home to house their combined six children, and she and homer created a truly blended family filled with love and fun.  Ettie and Homer’s love for each other was a perfect match.  She helped raise their six children to maturity, no easy task while homer was out building a better world, and was an active volunteer in the community. She supported him with his work, was a charming hostess, and at his side among their many friends.  During Homer’s  last few difficult years , Ettie was constantly at his side to the very end.

 The Book of Proverbs may best describe Ettie in its words,    “ayshet chayil mi yimtsa, a woman of valor who can find?" 

" She is more precious than fine pearls. Her husband trusts in her. She reaches out to those in need, and extends her hands to the poor. Her children rise up and bless her; her husband sings her praises." Many women have done valiantly, but you, Ettie, excel them all.
When I met with most of the family, Saturday afternoon, I learned so much more about Homer, the husband, father, grandpa, respected colleague to his peers, and gentle friend. It was a privilege to sit with Ettie, Greg, Scot, Claire, and Shandel last Saturday as they shared memories of their lives with Homer.  Charismatic and gentle dad, took them to sports events, inspired them to pursue their respective careers, shared his spirit of adventure, fun, and exemplified integrity in their lives.

No one knows Homer better than Ettie and her six children, so I will welcome inviting Shandel, who has chosen to be the spokesperson for the family during this service.  Following the interment, Ettie has asked me to invite all of you to attend a brief “minyan” service at her home, at which time others of the family and friends will be welcome to share special memories of Homer.

My heartfelt condolences to Ettie, Greg, Claire, Scott, Shandel, Tracey, Stephanie, the grandchildren and all of you whose lives were touched so gently by Homer.

Zecher tzadik livracha, may his memory be for a blessing. Amen.

More information on Homer Delawie

San Diego Magazine feature by Deirdre O'Shea, March 2007
Interview with Mission Hills Heritage, April 1, 2007
San Diego Union-Tribune obituary, June 30, 2009

Merel is cantor emeritus of Congregation Beth Israel of San Diego. His email: merels@sandiegojewishworld.com

stripe Copyright 2007-2009 - San Diego Jewish World, San Diego, California. All rights reserved.

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