Some folks have asked that I share copy of the eulogy I delivered at Kathy Blair’s Funeral. So here it is.
Today we mourn the loss of Austin’s song bird. Kathy Blair, one of the most influential people in my life.
I knew Kathy through the CCSA choir. She encouraged me, as a nervous, insecure, and nerdy 13 year old to try out for the Master’s Singers Ensemble. I didn’t think that I could do it. I KNEW I couldn’t do it. But Kathy saw something in me that I couldn’t see. She was also very hard to say “no” to. So I tried out and spent the rest of middle school and high school singing with the Master’s Singers and learning from Kathy.
My story is not unique.
Kathy invested her life teaching thousands of children not just to sing, but to love great music.
Kathy did not just teach us to love great music, she taught us technique, theory, and sight reading. She challenged us, every, single, semester. She taught us that working towards excellence could be an act of worship. There was no “good enough for church” with Kathy.
She helped hundreds of awkward, hormonal, homeschoolers get out of their shells and comfortable on stage. I still remember the day I lost my crippling stage fright. The Master’s Singers were singing at a Crisis Pregnancy Center and I realized, for the first time, that being on stage could be fun. I wonder if she realized what she had unleashed upon the world.
Kathy was a force of normality in a homeschool community still searching for its identity. She created a third place outside of home and church for us to learn how to make friends and “gasp” interact with the opposite sex. I will admit it was perhaps half a semester before I worked up the courage to talk to any of the Sopranos and Altos in choir.
Sometimes we drove her crazy. And some of us, did it on purpose. We would disappear right before a performance, or purposefully not wear shoes on stage. At one point the Tenors even formed a union and threatened to go on strike. It wasn’t until later, when I tried my hand at teaching, that I realized the divine patience she had for us troublesome teenagers. She never stopped rooting for us for us to be better. She never stopped loving us.
Kathy drove us around town, discipled, and challenged us. She showed us, by her example, joy, honesty, and kindness. She was quick to laugh and her laugh was infectious.
Kathy was not just a music teacher. She also spoke identity, gave us direction, and called out our giftings. She helped us discover who we wanted to be, and what we could be. She was the first person to let me build her a website. I had never built one before but she thought I could do it. That seed that she planted grew into a web company that has built hundreds of websites for authors, churches and missionaries all over the world.
Kathy was not trying to make us into “little Kathys.” She wanted us to discover and then become, what God created us to be. She wanted us to be our best selves.
And she did all of this while filling Austin with beautiful music.
Kathy adored her children, Joe and Hannah Hargis. In a way though, she had many more children through choir. She mothered us in all the best ways. Joe and Hannah, on behalf of the choir I would like to say “thank you” for sharing your mother with us.
I could not think of a greater gift you could give. Your mother was so so proud of both of you.
Kathy wasn’t perfect. I remember her flagrant disregard for inconvenient traffic laws for one. Riding in the back of her car brought us all a little closer to Jesus. She made mistakes and had her share of suffering. But through it all she never lost her trust in God or her love for us.
In many ways, she was a physical representation of Christ, a true Christian, a role model. She created her choir to be a safe place. A place of encouragement, fellowship, and worship.
Because for Kathy, music was not about the applause. She was just as happy to perform at a retirement home for an audience too feeble to clap as she was to perform for the thunderous crowds at the Ballpark.
Kathy thought beautiful music could give us a glimpse of a better world. A world without pain, grief or sin. Music was sacred, something that could bring us to God. A God who would wipe away every tear. This better world is something we can only see in part, but now she is seeing face to face.
Her tagline for the choir was perhaps the motto of her life. “We’ll sing you to heaven.”
We grieve today for our loss of Kathy. There is no replacing what she was.
In a way though, she is still with us. She is with us when we do our diction from the tip of the tongue and the teeth. She is with us when we follow her example to be patient and kind.
Kathy is with us when we worship God, because for many of us, she showed us how.
Kathy, there are thousands of grateful students who are now signing you to heaven.
We will miss you. We can’t wait to sing with you again.
For some background here are some of the news reports as to what happened.