Ralph E. Verde, Shizan

by Kaiden Shihan Sandaikichu Steve Glaser (Nana Dan)

How does one begin to speak about Ralph?

He grew up here in Carmel Valley, with his parents, Pat and Sal, and
his sister Sue, and even as a child, he didn’t fit the common mold.
His interests lead elsewhere… Towards deeper meaning and greater
truths… To Magic.

And while many of us share those interests, Ralph actually pursued
them. He pursued them with sleight of hand, with music, Martial arts,
Logic, philosophy and religion. He brought his search into every
aspect of his life.

In that respect, he was one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever
met, but that’s not really what brought us here today, or at least
it’s not what brought me here today.

It’s easy to look back at his life and to see the suffering he
endured, the physical frailties that kept mounting; affecting his
hands, his sight, his stamina, and his freedom, but that’s not really
the truth, or at least not the truth that I see…

And it’s easy to see what a solitary man he was, his tendency to keep
apart, whether alone in his apartment, or within a crowd, but as I
learned from all of you and from the many people who contacted me
since his passing, that was not entirely the truth either… his
connections were hidden, but plentiful.

But all of this is not really what’s important…

It’s not what Ralph did that was truly remarkable, it’s what he was.

Within Judaism, there is a description of a very special type of Man,
A man who examines himself without self-delusion. A Tzadik. A
righteous Man.

And the soul of a Tzadik, burns like a torch.

That is what it was like for me in the time we spent together, he
burned like a torch, and the world was illuminated around him. I
could begin glimpse truths that had eluded me, and I burned with a
fire that helped to pursue these truths with him.

I was quite simply a better man when I was around him, and I am a
better man for knowing him. All of my greatest accomplishments are a
result of seeds that were planted with him, and the very way I view
the world has been tempered by the time we spent together.

And I saw him when he was with others… how he could latch onto those
things that were important to the people he cared about. How his
interest in them would fuel their fires.

There is a belief that the Hidden Tzadikim, through their own nature
and inner work, hold the Divine Spirit to the world.

I don’t know if Ralph was a true Tzadik, but when I think of my time
with him, I can begin to understand what that might mean.

But even more than all of that, Ralph was a Friend, a brother, and a
Son… And he was loved.