My Funeral

Opening Words

Master of Ceremony: We are gathered together to celebrate the life of James Clifford Retson, and to say our last farewells. He was not obsessed with death but rather he was obsessed with living and so this ceremony is not about death and dying. Rather it is about life and living, about sharing the things that are important to life and living.

One thing he hated at many funerals was how the officiant hijacked the ceremony to serve purposes other than celbarting the life of the deceased - particularly procelytizing. Toensure that wouldn't happen, he wanted to play a prominent role at his funeral. Since he figured he wouldn't be able to be present in person he took on the role of script writer, the next most important role he could find.

He wanted you all to know that while he couldn't be present, he wanted you to take comfort in the fact that he had already enjoyed it immeasurably by its creation and in its anticipation. You too will play a role. He did not chose a cast director choosing to leave that role divided among the many of you who showed up here to day. You are the actors and actresses. You to are co-creators script writers for your thoughts and reflections, expressed or unexpressed form part of your unique experience of what he called "My funeral". He wanted you to enjoy the production as much as he did so sit back, relax and the enjoy.

Some thoughts on Life and Death

It is natural for us to be sad today because in a practical sense Jim is no longer with us. He is no longer a part of our lives. Death is of a personal nature to those who know it in some close way.

Jim loved life. All that has life has a beginning and an end and life exists in the time span between birth and death. Jim seperated out the concept of dying from death. Dying is part of the process of living. Death represents the time beyond life and is not part of living. To him death is distinct from life as existence is from non-existence. Jim did not fear death any more than he feared the non-existence that had occurred before he was born. He did fear dying and if by chance he was to experience it or be aware of the dying process he hoped he wold have the courage to face it in such a way that could assist those who were near and dear to him. They will have to be the judge as to how well he did.

Jim also loved to sing and wanted some of his favourite music to be part of his funeral.

Jim requested that we sing one of his favourite Hymns , "Let there be Peace on Earth and Let It Begin with Me". This hymn had also been sung at his mother's funeral.

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me;
Let there be peace on earth,
The peace that was meant to be.

In Love we are united
Brother and sister are we,
Let us walk with each other
In perfect harmony

Let peace begin with me,
Let this be the moment now;
With every step I take,
Let this be my solemn vow:
To take each moment and live each moment
In peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.


The Tribute

James Clifford Retson was born on July 28 1948 in Truro Nova Scotia to George Clifford and Grace Elizabeth Retson. He was raised with 5 other siblings William Edward (Ted) Retson, Madeline Jane Earle, Mavis Ruth Yorke, Donald George Retson, and Robert John Retson.

He graduated with a BA in Psychology from UBC attending the first 2 years of University at Dalhousie University, He attended one year at University Laval to learn French and then University of Toronto to get his Law degree. After a stint as a lawyer in Truro Nova Scotia returned to Dalhousie University to earn his Master of Business Administration.

While at University of Toronto he met and after a short courtship of 4 months married the love of his life, Roberta Gili. Later he was joined by his two daughters Jillie and Julia,the pride and joy of his life. Pieter joined his family much later followed by young Julia. He practiced Law in Truro Nova Scotia where he was elected as a Town Counsellor. During the 8 years in Truro he served on many Boards of Directors, Committees and Commission.

After two years attending Dalhousie University i.e. to acquire his MBA he moved with his family to his new Home in Kenora Ontario

Here he served the Kenora Association for community Living for over 25 years.

Jim had a passion for fighting for the under dog. He valued the right to self-determination, the right to a meaningful and satisfying life and beleived that the surest way of achieving it was serving others.


Jim loved music and some of his favourite songs were written by the romantic Robeert Burns, A Man's A Man For A'That, and Auld Lang Syne that spoke of brotherhood and friendship and Ae Fond Kiss and My Love is like a Red Red Rose which spoke of romantic love and devotion. He requested that we sing A man's AMan for A That at his funeral

A Man's A Man For A' That

Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an' a' that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a' that!
For a' that, an' a' that.
Our toils obscure an' a' that,
The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The Man's the gowd for a' that.

What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey, an' a that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man's a Man for a' that:
For a' that, and a' that,
Their tinsel show, an' a' that;
The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor,
Is king o' men for a' that.

Ye see yon birkie, ca'd a lord,
Wha struts, an' stares, an' a' that;
Tho' hundreds worship at his word,
He's but a coof for a' that:
For a' that, an' a' that,
His ribband, star, an' a' that:
The man o' independent mind
He looks an' laughs at a' that.

A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an' a' that;
But an honest man's abon his might,
Gude faith, he maunna fa' that!
For a' that, an' a' that,
Their dignities an' a' that;
The pith o' sense, an' pride o'< worth,
Are higher rank than a' that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a' that,)
That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an' a' that.
For a' that, an' a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That Man to Man, the world o'er,
Shall brothers be for a' that.

The Committal

Will you stand for the committal.

'To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose on earth. A Time to be born and here, in this last act, a time to die'

Here, in this last act, in sorrow but without fear, in love and appreciation, we commit Jim's body to its natural end.


Jim wanted you all to enjoy some refreshments following the ceremony. Please join the family at >>>>>>>>>>


Cochrane, Don S (2002) Simple Essential Funeral Planning Kit, Bellingham, WA: Self-Counsel Press

Isenberg, Lynn (2005) The Funeral Planner, Don Mills: Red Dress Ink