A Proper Goodbye

A Proper Goodbye

The funeral and memorial service for our friend and colleague Nick Givotovsky was held Saturday in Cormwall, CT.  The turnout, as anticipated, was so large that Nick's church, St. Peter's Lutheran, turned to the United Church of Christ in Cormwall, across the street and with a  larger sanctuary, for their gracious hosting of the service.  This seems so fitting for those of us who knew Nick. In much the same fashion that Nick would expand and enlarge ideas, he would transcend schools of thought or theory, seek a larger central core, determined to bring them together.

This past Saturday, at the Memorial Service and Celebration of his life, Nick brought about a common presence at two churches and the Town Hall in Cornwall, CT. Topics and concepts would always be bigger after Nick spent time with them.

I've attended many funerals but never before have I seen such an intense outpouring of love and affection for the departed. Nick had friends far and wide throughout the internet and in many Digital Identity and other connected communities. In his Connecticut community one would get the impression that he was a part of just about everyone's life there, as well.

Detail from the cover of the program for the Celebration of the life of Nick Givotovsky.<br />

Numerous e-mail and other discussion lists carried remembrances of Nick in the past week. This was noted in comments made during the Memorial Service. Following welcoming remarks and an opening hymn (Be Thou My Vision), Nick's obituary was read, followed by Scripture reading. Nick's friend Brad Winters then offered some memories and recited a poem he had written. The Pastor spoke of Nick's earnest and committed faith and spirituality. Nick was very involved in his church and was a deeply religious person. Those with whom he shared his faith spoke of being moved by Nick's resolute passion and belief. We all know that Nick was articulate and eloquent, and his ability to express beliefs of all kinds was underscored.

Nick's fascinating life: a track star in school, college in Scotland, music and video production and the arts, his marriage to Laura (who was the epitome of grace) and their love and dedication to each other and their children, were all discussed. There were lighter moments, including one surely familiar to those of you reading this on mailing lists or as a blogpost -- very few people understood just what did Nick do for a living.
The final speaker, Nick's closest friend Scott Winters, said he'd asked Nick at least 40 times to explain just what exactly his work was all about.This brought about a few chuckles from the sanctuary. To those of us in working in the tech or geek universe, this is simple: Nick worked in and at the intersection of Digital Identity, Communications, Technology and the rights of the Individual. To those outside of that world, as Scott gently and deftly observed, this was somewhat a source of mystery and intrigue. It added to one's appreciation of Nick's depth and his ability to understand the complicated.

Scott spoke of Nick's passion. Nick was passionate about love, spirituality, and justice. Doing the right thing and making the world a better place were his daily objectives. His relationships with family, friends, his church, and the workplace and his associates were all rooted in his desire to learn, understand, spread knowledge and improve on everything in his midst. Scott related stories of Nick's courtship of Laura, of their passion in adopting their children and creating a family. Scott spoke of Nick's emotions in dealing with the very recent death of Nick's brother Alexander. He related that Nick had gone to his house after that funeral and read toScott the eulogy he'd written for Alexander. Scott explained how they cried, they laughed, and shared a cathartic moment. This sort of open and expressive emotion was central to who and what Nick was.

Scott then asked those gathered to join him in an unorthodox exercise. "We all know how much we loved Nick, and I'd like to tell him so. We all feel Nick's presence with us here today, so I'd like to ask everyone here, at the top of their lungs, to shout it out: WE LOVE YOU, NICK at the count of three." Scott counted to three, and all those gathered in the sanctuary let it rip. It was loud, it was powerful, it was passionate. A moment or two elapsed, and Scott said, "I think he heard us."

Scott concluded with a prayer. His remarks were the most moving of the service.

Following Scott there was a reading of The Lord's Prayer, then the Pastor offered a blessing. Amy Christian, a vocalist who had sung Ave Maria and Amazing Grace during the service, led the assembled group in We Shall Overcome to conclude the Church Service.

Nick's Business Card<br />

Immediately following, a reception was held in the nearby Cormwall Town Hall. Again, it was an overflow crowd. On a beautiful, sunlit day there were people inside, outside, and all around the Town Hall. Inside in the center of the room was a table with pictures of Nick as a child, as a track star, Nick & Laura's wedding, and pictures of Nick & Laura with their children. There were old clips from local papers showing Nick throwing a shotput. Doc Searls' blogpost, A Good Man Is Hard To Lose, was printed out and mounted on carboard, read by many.

Nick was a Gentleman Farmer, and he took pride in the land he and his family shared in the Northwestern corner of Connecticut. He managed to be a technologist as well as a man of the earth. I'll remember Nick for his energy, his intelligence, his strong opinions and desire to make things right (in Digital Identity, Data Portability, VRM, and numerous other areas).

But most of all I'll remember Nick as a caring and generous friend and as a devoted family man.

On Saturday in Connecticut our friend Nick received a proper goodbye, filled with love and caring, from people of all ages. Friends, family, neighbors and co-parishoners celebrated the life of Nick Givotovsky.