Eulogy given at Karl F. Steinmayer's
Memorial Service on
Tuesday October 8th at Chubb's Wharf, Mystic Seaport
As you all must know and has been said by those who preceded me, Karl marched to his own drummer, and sifting through many years of memories to bring you a poignant one is not a simple task. Karl used to jest that I once deliberately tried to kill him when I precariously placed a speaker on a shelf over the head of his bed and it later fell on him as he slept - peacefully, or so he thought. That was during our 7th grade as roommates in boarding school, 33 years ago. He survived the episode, and forgave me, and we went on to more - shall I say - uplifting experiences.
Many years later, shortly after I had started my career in a staid consulting engineering firm, he did his best to embarrass me by climbing through my office window in full view of my co-workers and manager. This he did wearing his best Kung Fu outfit lest anyone not notice his stunt.
Although I live far from Mystic and rarely visited him at the Seaport; some of you may remember meeting me on a beautiful Spring day some ten years ago as I decided to get him back. I did this by alighting on this very stone quay beside the Morgan with a friend in our 1927 wooden sponsor canoe shortly after a demonstration. I immediately sensed his embarrassment as he was working his way up the Seaport ropes and ladders (as close as he ever dared get to the dreaded corporate ladder). I quickly reassured him that the spectator-tourists who were busily photographing the canoe, surely did not know that our craft was not part of the permanent collection.
To you who have come to pay your final respects to Karl, but who may not have had the pleasure of reading Karl's story, titled "A Compass Rose", a few words are needed to introduce the thoughts which follow.
Karl was passionate about many things - people, nature, music, science fiction in its many forms, more "serious" literature, the marshal arts, seafaring, the occult, and many others. He also liked to write - poetry and prose - really any genre that suited his mood. Of his writings, as seen from a lifelong friend's perspective - the story of the "Compass Rose" stands out.
In it, he muses about "a compass rose" possessed by a traveler and planted in his garden. This object serves a the starting point of a metaphorical and somewhat whimsical journey through the many tests and emotions that life holds in store for us - not the least of which Karl termed the four most cardinal truths and ways: "Birth, and Love, and Hate, and Death." Of these four, I cannot say that Karl had much room for the third, save healthy selfcriticism - usually intent on increasing his compassion and bettering the lives of those around him.
In this light, may the "Compass Rose" which Karl planted in his garden, and guided him throughout his life, continue to guide him in the nether world in whatever new form it may take.
And... perhaps most importantly to us today and in future, may this same "Compass Rose" - as described in the story as being passed on to the next traveler - be an inspiration to us all.
Lastly, I would like to express my great admiration and respect for his family, who was ever supportive of Karl's many endeavors and, I am sure, will honor his spirit during his present journey. With great respect and tenderness, I join them in wishing Karl Godspeed on his final voyage.
Ulrich La Fosse (a friend)