Funeral Remarks for Bea Baddy
By Lt. Governor Townsend
October 9, 2001
I don't know if Bea Gaddy loved movies -- but I'm sure she
didn't need them.
Her life, after all, was far more dramatic and touched by
human emotion than anything the imagination could put on screen.
Still, when I think of Bea, I can't help thinking about the
movie, It's a Wonderful Life. One line in particular
seems like it was written for Bea. Let me read it -- corrected
for gender -- "Strange, isn't it? Each woman's life touches
so many other lives, and when she isn't around, she leaves an
Today we are all living in that awful hole. Our Bea is gone.
Bea Gaddy's story is the stuff of legend. A poor and hungry
child in North Carolina. She moved to Baltimore. What she found
was not a wonderful life. Instead she found more poverty, more
hunger and more cold. But she also found a city worthy of her
Baltimore was the perfect home for a woman whose heart
brimmed with compassion. It was the perfect home for a woman of
courage, grace, and substance. It was the perfect home for a
woman of grit and unbending determination. It was, quite simply,
the perfect home for Bea Gaddy.
Bea may have come to Baltimore in obscurity. But she was just
too smart and too hard working not to be noticed. Even more
revealing were the twinkling in her eye. -- and the flickering
flame in her soul. This was the flame of hope -- and it could
not be extinguished. Not only could it not be extinguished. in
time, Bea used it to light hope and dignity in countless others.
I have absolutely no doubt that there are people alive today
who would not be alive without Bea.
As the world now knows, she fed the hungry, sheltered the
homeless, consoled the lonely, and inspired us all. She also
understood that hunger and poverty are the great civil rights
issues of our time -- and we must not fail to solve them. My
father liked to quote Albert Camus, the writer and humanitarian
who said, "There will always be poor children, but if we
don't help, who will?" Of course, Bea Gaddy answer to that
question was, "I will." Bea quite simply did God's
work -- and did it better than anyone is likely to do it again
for a long, long time.
So we cry for Bea's absence. But we also cry for ourselves.
The woman who was stronger than despair. Stronger than fear.
Stronger even than the great moral wrong of poverty in the midst
of plenty. Has left us. For that we mourn. What hasn't left us
is the blessing of Bea Gaddy's life and work. For that we do not
mourn -- we celebrate. because out of her wonderful and
remarkable life has come joy, inspiration, and love to each of
ours. This was Bea's gift. her life touched our lives. today,
with both tears and love, we hold this gift to our hearts --
knowing that like her memory -- it will endure in us
* * *
update 28 July 2008