October 13, 2000
heartfelt thanks to everyone here today. We have been overwhelmed
by the outpouring of support and compassion from so many people
around the world. Family, friends, relatives, clients, associates,
students, parents, teachers... it's been absolutely incredible and
really helped us through a very tough and trying time.
This morning I had a 5am wake up call. It was a sharp
reminder of the wake up call every father receives when notified
about the untimely death of a daughter or son. Driving over the
hill from Capitola on Highway 17 on what is Friday the 13th, I was
dazzled by the radiance and intensity of the full moon. It gave
me cause for thought and inspiration. Lauren's early life waxed
like the phases of the moon. She was, at the time of her death,
a full moon. Bright, uplifting and twinkling down upon those around
While driving through the sharp bends on 17 and gazing
up at Lauren's full moon, I began to think about the branding exercises
we go through with clients in my business. Trying to identify the
elusive personality of a brand, consultants often ask executives
(and politicians, too, I hear) what make or type of car best characterizes
their company, or persona.
In looking at Lauren's life, I asked myself what stretch
of road best symbolized who or what she was. Was it Route 66 with
all its history and nostalgia; Highway 880 with its noise, speed
and congestion; a quiet, peaceful country back road; a sedate suburban
street fronting manicured lawns; or a bumpy, dusty, pothole-plagued
I came to the conclusion that Lauren's life was very
much like the one I was on - the infamous Highway 17. Challenging
to drive, difficult to handle, precarious in many places, dangerous
in stormy conditions, full of twists and turns, but uncluttered,
beautiful and inspiring all the way to the waters of Monterey Bay.
Highway 17, Lauren had spent the summer going through many upgrades
and improvements. While CalTrans was resurfacing the entire length
of 17 so traffic would flow faster and smoother, Lauren was going
to mountain camp and summer school so she would be best prepared
for the outdoor adventures, dorm room dynamics and academic challenges
of the New Hampton School. It was a smooth, clean and newly paved
highway ahead of her, a route she believed would take her to new
levels of personal achievement, excellence and recognition.
While going through Lauren's school papers, digital
files and videotapes, I discovered the three documents you now have
in your program. Originally, I was going to read these to you, so
you could better understand her feelings, motivations and aspirations.
I decided, instead, to reproduce them as a constant reminder of
the life and times of Lauren. They will be posted on her web site
www.lauren-nealemay.com, along with a rich array of content, images
and streaming video and audio.
Lauren had the uncanny ability to look into herself
and understand exactly where she had been and where she wanted to
go. Lauren's class assignments and journals are wonderful insights
into a truly compassionate and caring person, who tried so hard
to please and become accepted by those around her. In her English
class at New Hampton, Lauren was asked to communicate her personal
goals. Here they are at age 14:
- I want to try and learn to be more patient
- I not only want to pass my classes, but I
really want to know the material.
- I want to get in better shape.
- I want to try and be more social.
- I want to improve my study and learning skills.
the creative thinker, Lauren decided to produce her own antidote
to loneliness at boarding school with a visual cure for homesickness
any time she wanted it. The day before she left for New Hampshire,
Lauren made a personal
video documentary of her home and taped a conversation with
herself on camera, urging herself to be brave and a good girl while
at boarding school. Running 17 minutes, this touching tape captures
her feelings of trepidation about leaving home, her closeness and
attachment to family, pets and familiar surroundings, while also
reiterating her desire to go and be successful in her high school
environment. We'd be happy to share this tape with any of you seated
Every dad gets asked what they remember most about
their children. Here's what comes to mind with Lauren:
- Lauren was organized. She took it upon herself
to index and properly display every one of my 600 bottles of hot
sauce, a collection she knew was a big part of Dad trying to spice
up his life.
- Lauren was a computer junkie. She loved
to trouble shoot the computer systems of my employees and took
great pleasure in reconfiguring their desktops and sabotaging
our servers. Her new laptop, which she took to school for the
first time, already had more than 46 documents in seven folders.
That's about one new document generated every day she was at school.
- Lauren was a gourmet chef. She talked me
into sending her to the Children's Culinary Academy in Palo Alto
at age 11 and then proceeded to prepare every Thanksgiving dinner
thereafter. This included turkey, stuffing, pies, gravy, side
dishes, desserts, pastries and party favors.
- Lauren was enormously creative. One of her
most artistic works is a ceramic cheeseburger and french fries
on display here, proving once again that cooking is a culinary
- Lauren loved to watch football players and
wrestling superstars. Every night I called, Lauren would be at
the New Hampton training center. This dedication astounded me
until I found out from her soccer mates that Lauren's regimen
coincided with that of the football team.
- Lauren was an avid golfer. I came across
a document outlining an essay for English on "Playing Golf
with Grandpa". Her notes indicated Grandpa Burley surprised
her by being able to actually hit the ball and driving it further
than her. However, she expressed concerns about his age and ability
to drive the golf cart.
- Lauren was a comedian and entertainer. Her
impressions and renditions of Elvis Presley, using a handy hair
brush, brought standing ovations at New Hampton. She also lobbied
for money to keep the campus radio station running so she could
host her own sports talk show, Half-Time at New Hampton.
- Lauren was fearless. My earliest recollections
of her courage and tenacity were at age 10, where with little
or no training, she rapidly scaled the rock face of an indoor
climbing center in Santa Cruz. What scared me the most was the
fact that brother was belaying and often not paying atttention.
Needless to say, memory flashes and recollections
will never depart. We have hundreds of images of Lauren and you'll
soon be able to see these on her web site.
Many of you may have recognized the stirring music
used in Lauren's multi-image portrait as selections from the soundtrack
of the movie, The Power of One. Set in South Africa, this
movie is a moving story of the tragedies and travesties of a racially
divided society, where one individual fought a brutal system of
discrimination to achieve justice and equality for all.
Like the hero in this movie, Lauren is proof of the
power of one. She firmly believed she could make a difference. Moving
many as one in the direction of helping those less privileged or
Lauren came into this world with incredible courage,
strength and character. She overcame many emotional hardships, battled
many personal problems. She was not scared to buck the establishment.
And she was not hesitant to test the resolve of her parents and
teachers. She had strong convictions about what was right and wrong.
And she desired so much to help others.
Lauren's life will be remembered as one that impacted
and imprinted on many. Every time you look up at full moon, remember
Lauren. Because she is still here casting light on a world that
is too often filled with darkness.