Hello, my name is Buzz Berra, Alex’s father. Thanks to all of you, Alex’s Family, for being here today to celebrate Alex.
I was wondering what Alex would want to talk about today, and I think it would be what it is that brings him the most joy.
More joy than riding his bicycle 40 miles from Ashland to Mt. McLoughlin, then running up the trail and climbing to the summit and back down, all while wearing his cycling shoes with cleats, and then cycling home.
More joy than riding his bike 185 miles each way from Ashland to Bandon in one day for a Siskiyou school retreat.
More joy than snorkeling down the Smith River with his friends Beth and Sergei in a wetsuit through class 4 rapids.
More joy than swimming Whyte Nynsha style in the Pacific Ocean or Jackson Creek where he grew up.
More joy than making the most intriguing green concoction ever seen with his trusty Vitamix.
More joy than drinking an ice cold glass of watermelon juice after an invigorating run to the top of Mt. Ashland.
Of course, what brings Alex the most joy is his family- the one he was born with and his chosen family. Yesterday we had a Gathering in Corvallis with 150 friends and family at our home where Alex celebrated 32 Christmases and countless family birthdays, and where he spent many hours exploring the forest and creek in his backyard. It’s easy to see why he had such a love and respect for nature
And Ashland has been the perfect home for Alex- his chosen family and friends are amazing. We are so honored to be here today with all of you who share a love of Alex. We are all blessed to have you all share our son with us. I know Alex is overwhelmed with Gratitude to see all of you, his Family, here today.
Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Alex had recently graduated from college and was living at home at the time and teaching middle school in Corvallis. After surgery, I had to undergo radiation treatments, and when I got in my car every morning at 6:30, for 40 days of treatment, the first thing I saw was a big yellow post-it note on my dashboard…..written by Alex.
At age 23, he took it upon himself to encourage me, for 40 days without fail, to approach each day with positivity and a calmness of spirit to help get me through my radiation treatments. His note on March 3, 2005 read:
“God Morning my father and happy Thankful Thursday. A day to relish all that is around us and all that we have created. Friendships that feed us, children who look up to and are inspired by you, a house you created with your own hands and a home you created with your own heart. The beauty of nature is around us. The amazing gifts and energy each unique person brings into this world. Being able to be active and enjoy our bodies. The sunrise, our eyes.
There is so much to be thankful for.
And 39 more inspiring original messages from Alex just like this one, which helped bring me peace and comfort at a very difficult time.
After my prostate treatments, Alex decided I should get a bike and start riding to complete my recovery. Of course it wasn’t just riding the bike. He convinced me that I could and should ride to the top of the McKenzie Pass near Sisters, then to the top of Mary’s Peak outside of Corvallis, and why not to the top of Mt. Ashland, or even to the top of Mt. Constitution on Orcas Island. And then we did Cycle Oregon together and he inspired me to do a couple of century rides.
I told Alex he was the reason I even attempted these rides and was able to make it to the top of the mountains. He had a way of making me believe I could do it. Actually, I didn’t have a choice. I think most of you know what I’m talking about. I learned so much about myself from my son.
Alex always showed Gratitude for the blessings and the people in his life.
I would like to share a note that he wrote to us in his book of poetry and stories, “Gratitude”.
“Thank you to my Mother, Pat Newport, and my Father, Buzz Berra, who have shown me that when I feel my heart is full, all I need to do is make it bigger. You taught me about gravity and inspired me to create my own wings to fly. I love you.”
Thank you, Alex, my dear Son, you have taught me so much about life, and you have made my life so much fuller. Thank you for your 33 years that you shared with us, and for the treasure chest full of jewels that you have left us in your writings and moments spent togethe. I will love and cherish my time with you forever.