Dear Piedmont Friends:
Ileita and I attended the most magnificent funeral today that we have ever observed. It was a fitting tribute to a great person, leader, boss and friend. The service began at 11:00 AM in Wait Chapel at Wake Forest University. The casket was draped in a spray of white, snap dragons, white roses and other white flowers I could not recognize. At the alter at each end of the casket, were beautiful arrangements of the same flowers flanked by palm plants. Very simple; nothing elaborate but exceptionally elegant.
Music from the massive organ of the Chapel, played by Dr. Donald L. Armitage, began shortly before the service. When the music stopped at 11 o'clock, the family was ushered in while the congregation of several hundred friends stood silent. Following the Call to Worship, the Piedmont Chamber Singers choir sang "God weeps with us who weep and mourn." The congregation was invited to stand and sing stanza 3. The music of a trumpet, a harp and a violin accompanied the organ.
The Rev. Alexandra Davis Hipps greeted the congregation with words of tribute to Mr. Thomas Henry Davis. This was followed by a prayer and the Lord's Prayer, spoken in unison, after which, the music, "Sanctus" and "Pie Jesu," from Requiem, were sung by the choir.
Words of comfort and assurance from Psalm 116:1-2, 5, 15: John 14:1-3, 18-19, 27 were spoken by the minister. Dr. David Smiley, teacher of the Reid Staton Bible Class, Wake Forest Baptist Church and Professor Emeritus, Wake Forest University presented eloquent words of Thanksgiving for Tom' life followed by a prayer of Thanksgiving from the minister. Soloists Clara Allen, soprano, and John Williams, baritone, sang the music "Come unto me" and "The trumpet shall sound" from Messiah.
Words of Hope and Resurrection, Job 19:25-27, were read by the minister. The choir and congregation sang the Hymn, "For all the saints." The benediction was given by the minister and the choir sang the choral dismissal, "The Lord bless you and keep you."
The family had requested that the congregation remain seated until the end of the closing voluntary, "Toccata" from Symphony V, which Dr. Armitage presented in a most moving performance on the organ.
The congregation stood silently as the family departed for the private family internment at the Salem Cemetery.
I was honored and blessed to have known the man; to have worked for him and with him; and, to have been one among thousands who were his friends. I shall miss him very much.