The elegant, spirited celebration of his life held here Monday afternoon was partly planned about six years ago by Marcus himself, who died Jan. 22 at the age of 96. He chose the site for the ceremony, indicated who he wanted to speak and asked that his friend Bobby Short sing “Happy Days Are Here Again.”
“Despite his age, he was the more au courant than any other man we know,” said Liener Temerlin, a confidante of Marcus, in his opening remarks to the full house of 1,800 gathered at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center here. “His humor is legendary, and his moral and ethical compass forever pointed in the right direction. He forever inspired us and challenged us to be better than we are.”
Temerlin cited Marcus’s generosity in supporting the arts, the underprivileged, education and medicine, and reasoned that Marcus’s most individual characteristic was the way he looked at the world.
“Stanley saw poetry, and the poetry of the world,” Temerlin asserted. “How fortunate we all were that in our time he came our way.”
In his remarks, Richard Marcus wryly referred to his father’s comment, published 10 years ago, that he wanted to be cremated and his ashes “flushed down the toilet.”
“He was never shy about offering advice or criticism,” Marcus told the assembly. “As many of you know, his advice was not always solicited and not always taken. His ashes were not flushed down the toilet.”
Marcus had asked that one of his grandchildren speak. Jeannette Smith Wilson poignantly represented his 10 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
“We called him Stanley,” she began, “because when he became a grandfather 43 years ago at the the age of 53 he felt he was too young to be called by a traditional grandfather name like Pappy.”
Wilson pointed out that her grandfather was a great communicator, via traditional and e-mail, and since he very much appreciated a well-written thank-you note, she penned a final one for him.
“Thank you for spending so much time with each of us and for being a significant presence in our lives,” she read. Wilson expressed gratitude for his teaching them to love good food, art, art collecting, music, architecture, travel and design. She thanked him for his advice and criticism, and for singing “Happy Birthday” in its entirety to each of them every year.
“You were our career mentor, matchmaker and marriage counselor,” she said. “Stanley, on the matchmaking, definitely not your thing, but thank you for trying.”
Marcus served on the board of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra from 1947 until his death, and the orchestra performed pro bono at the ceremony. The musicians played Elgar’s familiar and elegiac “Nimrod” and a bluesy and bright movement from Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F Major.
Short played a grand piano and sang the romantic tunes “There’s a Small Hotel” and “Our Love Is Here to Stay” in addition to his zippy rendition of “Happy Days Are Here Again.”
Marcus’s family, friends and colleagues filled the mahogany velvet seats of the 13-year-old hall that he helped create, including Terry Lundgren; Leonard Lauder; Roger Horchow; Neiman’s current chairman and ceo, Burt Tansky, and a cadre of Neiman’s executives.
The service concluded in exactly one hour with Respighi’s bold “Pines of the Appian Way,” a succession of layered crescendos of the full orchestra culminating with a burst of cymbal and gong crashes. It had been chosen by DSO director Andrew Litton as a suitably powerful way to bid Marcus adieu.
Afterward, people mingled in the lobby remembering the myriad ways Marcus had graced their lives.
“He always had time to give you that little spark or ray of sunshine every time you were around him,” said Shelby Marcus, his sister-in-law.
Lundgren, now president of Federated Department Stores but a former chairman and ceo of Neiman’s, said he wouldn’t have missed the celebration because Marcus was one of the greatest influences in his life.
Said Lundgren, “I learned volumes from him about the business, but also about what’s important [in life].”