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Famous Eulogies in History

Updated on January 16, 2013

Tom Antion's "Instant Eulogies" E-book

Eulogy Speeches.

We are here today to pay our last respects.

Is the thought of giving a eulogy adding additional weight to the  emotional load you are already carrying?  Whether you’re a good friend, coworker, spouse, or a relative of the deceased . . .


SOMEONE expects YOU to deliver a eulogy!

Or maybe you just want to give one. But not just any eulogy - a eulogy that is unique and memorable as the deceased was. That’s hard enough, but while every person associated with the deceased stares at you, you’re also supposed to make your words loving, tasteful and unforgettable.  

Read some of these famous eulogies in history. Use these moving words to create a memorable eulogy for a loved one.

Do you need to deliver a eulogy?

A Message From Tom Antion

Coretta Scott King

....by Maya Angelou

In the midst of national tumult, in the medium of international violent uproar, Coretta Scott King's face remained a study in serenity. In times of interior violent storms she sat, her hands resting in her lap calmly, like good children sleeping.

Her passion was never spent in public display. She offered her industry and her energies to action, toward righting ancient and current wrongs in this world.

She believed religiously in non-violent protest.

She believed it could heal a nation mired in a history of slavery and all its excesses.

She believed non-violent protest religiously could lift up a nation rife with racial prejudices and racial bias.

She was a quintessential African-American woman, born in the small town repressive South, born of flesh and destined to become iron, born -- born a cornflower and destined to become a steel magnolia.

She loved her church fervently. She loved and adored her husband and her children. She cherished her race. She cherished women. She cared for the conditions of human beings, of native Americans and Latin -- Latinos and Asian Americans. She cared for gay and straight people. She was concerned for the struggles in Ireland, and she prayed for nightly for Palestine and equally for Israel.

I speak as a -- a sister of a sister. Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated on my birthday. And for over 30 years, Coretta Scott King and I have telephoned, or sent cards to each other, or flowers to each other, or met each other somewhere in the world.

We called ourselves "chosen sisters" and when we traveled to South Africa or to the Caribbean or when she came to visit me in North Carolina or in New York, we sat into the late evening hours, calling each other "girl." It's a black woman thing, you know. And even as we reached well into our 70th decade, we still said "girl."

I stand here today for her family -- which is my family -- and for my family and all the other families in the world who would want to be here, but could not be here. I have beside me up here millions of people who are living and standing straight and erect, and knowing something about dignity without being cold and aloof, knowing something about being contained without being unapproachable -- people who have learned something from Coretta Scott King.

I stand here for Eleanor Traylor and for Harry Belafonte, and I stand here for Winnie Mandela. I stand here for women and men who loved her -- [Constancia] "Dinky" Romilly. On those late nights when Coretta and I would talk, I would make her laugh. And she said that Martin King used to tell her, "You don't laugh enough." And there's a recent book out about sisters in which she spoke about her blood sister. But at the end of her essay, she said, I did have -- "I do have a chosen sister, Maya Angelou, who makes me laugh even when I don't want to." And it's true. I told her some jokes only for no-mixed company.

Many times on those late after -- evenings she would say to me, "Sister, it shouldn't be an 'either-or', should it? Peace and justice should belong to all people, everywhere, all the time. Isn't that right?" And I said then and I say now, "Coretta Scott King, you're absolutely right. I do believe that peace and justice should belong to every person, everywhere, all the time."

And those of us who gather here, principalities, presidents, senators, those of us who run great companies, who know something about being parents, who know something about being preachers and teachers -- those of us, we owe something from this minute on; so that this gathering is not just another footnote on the pages of history. We owe something.

I pledge to you, my sister, I will never cease.

I mean to say I want to see a better world.

I mean to say I want to see some peace somewhere.

I mean to say I want to see some honesty, some fair play.

I want to see kindness and justice. This is what I want to see and I want to see it through my eyes and through your eyes, Coretta Scott King.

[Sings: "I open my mouth to the Lord and I won't turn back, no. I will go, I shall go. I'll see what the end is gonna be."]

Thank you.

- Maya Angelou 2/6/06



For Bob Hope:

On the desk of the Oval Office, President Truman kept under glass the one-word telegram Bob sent him following his dramatic upset of Tom Dewey. It read: "unpack."

When another President - Abraham Lincoln - died in the house across the street from Ford's Theater, his Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, standing at Lincoln's side, said "Now he belongs to the ages."

The same is equally true of Bob Hope.

He is not America's - he is the world's.

He belongs not to our age, but to all ages.

And yet, even though he belongs to all time and to all peoples, he is our own, for he was quintessentially American.

- U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein Aug. 27, 2003

Do you need to deliver a eulogy? Help is here...

John F. Kennedy

For John F. Kennedy

Only a week before his tragic passing, I saw him in the Oval Room at the White House when he accepted the report of the Advisory Committee on Medical Care for the Aged, in which Senator Anderson and I joined, and issued a statement offering encouragement and help.

He was vigorous and healthy and smiling and friendly -- a complete human being, concerned about other human beings who were no longer as vigorous and not quite as healthy as they used to be.

Words cannot describe how the American people felt when they lost their president. Not until the vacuum of disbelief was filled with the horror of comprehension did any of us realize how much we identified ourselves, even apart from personal friendship, with the president -- this intellectual, vigorous young man -- and he would have been that if he were eighty -- expressing the very essence of the youthfulness of our nation. It seems of little consequence now that there were political differences, or objections to this or that legislative product, though as far as I am concerned there was a very large measure of agreement. What matters is that feeling of loss -- that personal sense of emptiness -- that all Americans feel because their president was cut off in the prime of life. As a nation, we have lost a president who understood the institution of the presidency, gloried in its overwhelming responsibilities, and discharged his duties with dash and joy, which were an inspiration to the youth of our nation.

- U.S. Senator Jacob Javits



For Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe was a legend.

In her own lifetime she created a myth of what a poor girl from a deprived background could attain. For the entire world she became a symbol of the eternal feminine.

But I have no words to describe the myth and the legend. I did not know this Marilyn Monroe.

We gathered here today, knew only Marilyn - a warm human being, impulsive and shy, sensitive and in fear of rejection, yet ever avid for life and reaching out for fulfillment. I will not insult the privacy of your memory of her - a privacy she sought and treasured - by trying to describe her whom you knew to you who knew her. In our memories of her she remains alive, not only a shadow on the screen or a glamorous personality.

I cannot say goodbye. Marilyn never liked goodbyes, but in the peculiar way she had of turning things around so that they faced reality - I will say au revoir. For the country to which she has gone, we must all someday visit.

- Lee Strasberg

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Winston Churchill

For Winston Churchill

Many of you will not need to be reminded, but some, the younger among you, the inheritors of his master-strokes for freedom, may be glad to be told that your country, and mine, and all the free countries of the world, stood at the very gates of destiny in 1940 and 1941 when the Nazi tyranny threatened to engulf us, and when there was no 'second front' except our own. This was the great crucial moment of modern history. What was at stake was not some theory of government but the whole and personal freedom of men, and women, and children. And the battle for them was a battle against great odds. That battle had to be won not only in the air and on the sea and in the field, but in the hearts and minds of ordinary people with a deep capacity for heroism. It was then that Winston Churchill was called, by Almighty God, as our faith makes us believe, to stand as our leader and our inspirer.

His body will be carried on the Thames, a river full of history. With one heart we all feel, with one mind we all acknowledge, that it will never have borne a more precious burden, or been enriched by more splendid memories.


-Sir Robert Menzies Jan. 30, 1965



For John F. Kennedy Jr.

From the first day of his life, John seemed to belong not only to our family, but to the American family. The whole world knew his name before he did. A famous photograph showed John racing across the lawn as his father landed in the White House helicopter and swept up John in his arms. When my brother saw that photo, he exclaimed, "Every mother in the United States is saying, 'Isn't it wonderful to see that love between a son and his father, the way that John races to be with his father.' Little do they know, that son would have raced right by his father to get to that helicopter."

But John was so much more than those long ago images emblazoned in our minds. He was a boy who grew into a man with a zest for life and a love of adventure. He was a pied piper who brought us all along. He was blessed with a father and mother who never thought anything mattered more than their children.

We thank the millions who have rained blossoms down on John's memory. He and his bride have gone to be with his mother and father, where there will never be an end to love. He was lost on that troubled night, but we will always wake for him, so that his time, which was not doubled, but cut in half, will live forever in our memory, and in our beguiled and broken hearts. We dared to think, in that other Irish phrase, that this John Kennedy would live to comb gray hair, with his beloved Carolyn by his side. But like his father, he had every gift but length of years. We who have loved him from the day he was born, and watched the remarkable man he became, now bid him farewell.

God bless you, John and Carolyn. We love you and we always will.

U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy

For Mickey Mantle

Mickey Mantle was too humble and honest to believe that the whole truth about him could be found on a Wheaties box or a baseball card. But the emotional truths about childhood have a power that transcends objective fact. They stay with us through all the years, withstanding the ambivalence that so often accompanies the experience of adults.

In a cartoon from this morning's The Dallas Morning News. Maybe some of you saw it. It got torn a little bit on the way from the hotel to here. There's a figure here, St. Peter I take it to be, with his arm around Mickey, that broad back and the number 7. We know some of what went on. Sorry, we can't let you in, but before you go, God wants to know if you'd sign these six dozen baseballs."

I just hope God has a place for him where he can run again. Where he can play practical jokes on his teammates and smile that boyish smile, 'cause God knows, no one's perfect. And God knows there's something special about heroes.

So long, Mick. Thanks.

- Bob Costas 1995

Ghandi

For Ghandi

Friends and comrades, the light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere. I do not know what to tell you and how to say it. Our beloved leader, Bapu as we called him, the father of the nation, is no more. Perhaps I am wrong to say that. Nevertheless, we will not see him again as we have seen him for these many years. We will not run to him for advise and seek solace from hi, and that is a terrible blow, not to me only, but to millions and millions in this country, and it is a little difficult to soften the blow by any other advise that I or anyone else can give you.

The light has gone out, I said, and yet I was wrong. For the light that shone in this country was no ordinary light. The light that has illumined this country for these many years will illumine this country for many more years, and a thousand years later that light will still be seen in this country, and the world will see it and it will give solace to innumerable hearts. For that light represented the living truth ... the eternal truths, reminding us of the right path, drawing us from error, taking this ancient country to freedom.

So we must not do that. But that does not mean that we should be weak, but rather that we should in strength and in unity face all the troubles and difficulties and conflicts must be ended in the face of this great disaster. A great disaster is a symbol to us to remember all the big things of life and forget the small things, of which we have thought too much.

- Jawaharlal Nehru

Crew of the Challenger

For the Astronauts of Challenger

Today, the frontier is space and the boundaries of human knowledge. Sometimes, when we reach for the stars, we fall short. But we must pick ourselves up again and press on despite the pain. Our nation is indeed fortunate that we can still draw on immense reservoirs of courage, character and fortitude - that we are still blessed with heroes like those of the space shuttle Challenger.

Dick Scobee knew that every launching of a space shuttle is a technological miracle. And he said, if something ever does go wrong, I hope that doesn't mean the end to the space shuttle program. Every family member I talked to asked specifically that we continue the program, that that is what their departed loved one would want above all else. We will not disappoint them.

Today, we promise Dick Scobee and his crew that their dream lives on; that the future they worked so hard to build will become reality. The dedicated men and women of NASA have lost seven members of their family. Still, they too, must forge ahead, with a space program that is effective, safe and efficient, but bold and committed.

Man will continue his conquest of space. To reach out for new goals and ever greater achievements - that is the way we shall commemorate our seven Challenger heroes.

Dick, Mike, Judy, El, Ron, Greg and Christa - your families and your country mourn your passing. We bid you goodbye. We will never forget you. For those who knew you well and loved you, the pain will be deep and enduring. A nation, too, will long feel the loss of her seven sons and daughters, her seven good friends. We can find consolation only in faith, for we know in our hearts that you who flew so high and so proud now make your home beyond the stars, safe in God's promise of eternal life.

May God bless you all and give you comfort in this difficult time.

- Ronald Reagan Jan. 31, 1986

Princess Diana

For Princess Diana

Diana was the very essence of compassion, of duty, of style, of beauty. All over the world she was a symbol of selfless humanity. All over the world, a standard bearer for the rights of the truly downtrodden, a very British girl who transcended nationality. Someone with a natural nobility who was classless and who proved in the last year that she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic.

Today is our chance to say thank you for the way you brightened our lives, even though God granted you but half a life. We will all feel cheated always that you were taken from us so young and yet we must learn to be grateful that you came along at all. Only now that you are gone do we truly appreciate what we are now without and we want you to know that life without you is very, very difficult.

We have all despaired at our loss over the past week and only the strength of the message you gave us through your years of giving has afforded us the strength to move forward.

I would like to end by thanking God for the small mercies he has shown us at this dreadful time. For taking Diana at her most beautiful and radiant and when she had joy in her private life. Above all we give thanks for the life of a woman I am so proud to be able to call my sister, the unique, the complex, the extraordinary and irreplaceable Diana whose beauty, both internal and external, will never be extinguished from our minds.

- Charles Earl Spencer

Famous Last words

"So little done, So much to do",

Alexander Graham Bell - Inventor

"All my possessions for a moment of time",

Elizabeth I - Queen of England

Bury me where the birds will sing over my grave

Alex Wilson - Ornithologist

"Get my swan costume ready",

Anna Pavlova - Ballet dancer

"So the heart be right 'tis no matter which way the head lieth",

Sir Walter Raleigh - British buccaneer, at his execution

"I expect I shall have to die beyond my means",

Oscar Wilde - Writer, taking a glass of champagne

"Let us cross the river and rest under the shade of the trees",

Stonewall Jackson

"Tete d'Armée [Chief of army]",

Napoleon I

"I shall hear in Heaven",

Ludwig van Beethoven

For Steve Irwin

My Daddy was my hero - he was always there for me when I needed him. He listened to me and taught me so many things, but most of all he was fun.

I know that Daddy had an important job. He was working to change the world so everyone would love wildlife like he did. He built a hospital to help animals and he bought lots of land to give animals a safe place to live.

He took me and my brother and my Mum with him all the time.

We filmed together, caught crocodiles together and loved being in the bush together.

I don't want Daddy's passion to ever end. I want to help endangered wildlife just like he did.

I have the best Daddy in the whole world and I will miss him every day. When I see a crocodile I will always think of him and I know that Daddy made this zoo so everyone could come and learn to love all the animals. Daddy made this place his whole life and now it's our turn to help Daddy.

- Bindi Irwin

Rosa Parks

For Rosa Parks

I feel it an honor to be here to come and say a final goodbye. I grew up in the South, and Rosa Parks was a hero to me long before I recognized and understood the power and impact that her life embodied. I remember my father telling me about this colored woman who had refused to give up her seat. And in my child's mind, I thought, "She must be really big." I thought she must be at least a hundred feet tall. I imagined her being stalwart and strong and carrying a shield to hold back the white folks. And then I grew up and had the esteemed honor of meeting her. And wasn't that a surprise. Here was this petite, almost delicate lady who was the personification of grace and goodness. And I thanked her then. I said, "Thank you," for myself and for every colored girl, every colored boy, who didn't have heroes who were celebrated. I thanked her then.

And after our first meeting I realized that God uses good people to do great things. And I'm here today to say a final thank you, Sister Rosa, for being a great woman who used your life to serve, to serve us all. That day that you refused to give up your seat on the bus, you, Sister Rosa, changed the trajectory of my life and the lives of so many other people in the world. I would not be standing here today nor standing where I stand every day had she not chosen to sit down. I know that. I know that. I know that. I know that, and I honor that. Had she not chosen to say we shall not -- we shall not be moved.

So I thank you again, Sister Rosa, for not only confronting the one white man whose seat you took, not only confronting the bus driver, not only for confronting the law, but for confronting history, a history that for 400 years said that you were not even worthy of a glance, certainly no consideration. I thank you for not moving.

And in that moment when you resolved to stay in that seat, you reclaimed your humanity and you gave us all back a piece of our own. I thank you for that. I thank you for acting without concern. I often thought about what that took, knowing the climate of the times and what could have happened to you, what it took to stay seated. You acted without concern for yourself and made life better for us all. We shall not be moved. I marvel at your will. I celebrate your strength to this day. And I am forever grateful, Sister Rosa, for your courage, your conviction. I owe you to succeed. I will not be moved.

- Oprah Winfrey

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    • NatureFan LM profile image

      NatureFan LM 4 years ago

      When I read your title, I was hoping to see Di's brother's speech. It was the first that came to mind. Glad to see it was here! Great lens.

    • profile image

      GenesisLabs 5 years ago

      Enjoyed your lens very much.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

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    • vitar profile image

      vitar 7 years ago

      Nicely done lens! This is a great resource, very informative.

      I gave you 5 stars ;) Please stop by and check out my lens Eulogy Speeches.

      Thanks for the effort.

    • profile image

      EulogyHelp 8 years ago

      You have done a great job or collecting some of the greatest eulogies. Great lens. =)

    • cannedguds lm profile image

      cannedguds lm 8 years ago

      Thanks for the information on how to give a eulogy ! Everybody needs to prepare for the unexpected and everybody needs to read this 5-star lens of yours! thanks for sharing! (I already missed Steve Irwin...vaya con Dios, Steve...)

    • profile image

      WorldTravelers916 9 years ago

      i would like to know what to difference between a lodge and a cabin is?

      import goods

    • The Homeopath profile image

      The Homeopath 9 years ago

      What an amazing lens. Adding this to my favorites lens and here's a good one from my Poe Toaster - On Edgar Allan Poe:

      "Fate that once denied him,

      And envy that once decried him,

      And malice that belied him,

      Now cenotaph his fame."

      --Tennyson

    • profile image

      Nick_Sutton 9 years ago

      Nice len. Keep it up! Nick Sutton Fulham :-)

    • profile image

      itsannje 9 years ago

      Hi Tom

      What a great informative site... I needed something like this a few months ago! I know so many people, including me, who have been stuck on what to say in a eulogy.

      Jeanne

    • profile image

      Douglas-Robert 9 years ago

      Nice job, Tom! Like all your stuff -- it's first class.

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 9 years ago

      Great lens, 5 STARS!

      Fantasy Art Woman|Beautiful Women Goddess Art:

      https://hubpages.com/art/kathysart

    • Retro Loco profile image

      Vicki 9 years ago from USA

      Creative idea for a lens topic, and a well-built lens! Great work, 5 stars! I have some interesting links on my Retro Loco lens.

    • vitar profile image

      vitar 9 years ago

      Nice lens! I invite you to visit and rate my eulogy lenses Eulogy Speeches & Eulogy Samples

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      poutine 9 years ago

      Great topic and well done. High 5

      poutine

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      catch-cheating 9 years ago

      great info, high five

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      anonymous 10 years ago

      Some good info here, Tom. For more help with grief and bereavement support, visit The Light Beyond.

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      tiffanysmith 10 years ago

      Cool lens! Can't wait to see more!

    • profile image

      bdkz 10 years ago

      Great lens!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 10 years ago

      Very interesting. I hope you'll keep adding more historical eulogies.

    • Lady Gotrocks profile image

      Lady Gotrocks 10 years ago

      Congratulations! You are now a member of the Raising Stars group