A public memorial service was held for Lisa on Friday, February 21st at the Torrey Pines Christian Church. A sunswept sky greeted us as we came to honor and pay tribute to her. Rev. Dale Suggs along with Rev. Kyle Harris welcomed all to the service. Attending were many friends, neighbors, Lisa's former school teachers, and those in the fellowship of recovery. Her favorite songs filled the church with memories including, "Somewhere Out There", "Wild Horses", and "Not Angry Anymore". Her picture adorned the altar along with a cross filled with white carnations inset with blue and purple flowers. Tributes were given first by family and then by friends. Many also wrote their tributes which will be included on this site soon. Rev. Suggs then closed the ceremony and reminded us that we are not invincible and that we need to put our lives in the care of God, everyday -- and to reach out for His help.

Judy read a portion of her tribute entitled, "Losing Lisa", and my tribute to Lisa follows...


 
Tribute to Lisa
--Gary Stoefen

      "I want to thank all of you for being here today at this memorial service as we pay tribute to my daughter, Lisa. My family has appreciated all of your help and prayers during the last few difficult months.

      Having the service in this church is especially significant and special to us for many reasons. We are surrounded by so many memories here and some of them go back over three decades ago.

      Some thirty three years ago, my father had memorial services in what was the first chapel here at that time… just to the right of this building. I remember seeing an overflow crowd that day which included many world-famous, tennis legends. My father was a world's tennis champion back in 1934 having won the Davis Cup for the United States at Wimbledon. He didn't know Lisa unfortunately but would have gladly taught her a few tennis tips had he been here.

      Twenty-three years ago, Judy and I were married here at this church in the courtyard right outside. The giant fountain served as our altar. It was a bright sunny day with blue skies much like it is right now.

      Twenty-three years ago, I had also attended the first of many recovery meetings at this church. By the Grace of God and a twelve step program, it's been a sober journey ever since. Lisa had also found sobriety here and we both attended meetings together. We were a regular, father-daughter recovery team. We became very close sharing the same struggles and triumphs over alcoholism over the last few years. We would celebrate milestones together and she would always help others who wanted help and even those who didn't.

      That brings us to today. Here we are in the present, as we reflect on the past with an eye towards the future. Lisa is at home now. She is one of the angels above and is at peace with our Lord. She is free from her struggles now and continues to carry a message to others who are still suffering. We mourn her loss today and also celebrate her new life with Christ.

      Her message is very clear to us now and to future generations. Her message will reach out to those who still suffer from the disease of alcoholism and serve as a reminder that sobriety can never be compromised. This disease claims so many lives and ruins so many families. I am angry at this disease for claiming such an innocent life and one so young. I am very grateful that I was able to spend 21 years with Lisa and that she and I both enjoyed sobriety together during three of those years. She was truly one of a kind and was always thinking of others first.

      When I think about Lisa, there are so many special qualities that come to mind. She was very kind-spirited with a heart full of compassion. She had an inner glow that touched many lives. Her gentleness and sweetness would offer a soothing touch in a world often filled with sorrow and suffering. I used to call her my "little lamb" because she was so sweet and kind-hearted. Her radiant smile and sense of humor would bring warmth and laughter to everyone she met. She loved to make people laugh and saw the humor in the little things we sometimes think are big. Lisa was also a free spirit…beating to her own drum…an elusive butterfly that would go thru life testing the boundaries but often sacrificing her needs and wants in order to help others. She was just that way.

      When Lisa left us here on earth, she also left us with some surprising miracles. When my family and I had the tough task of going thru her car at the tow yard looking for personal belongings we discovered a miracle. Only about a third of the car was left and we put on gloves to go thru the wreakage. We found many pictures and keepsakes but the most important item was yet to be found. Judy had discovered Lisa's key ring still stuck in the ignition. I couldn't get the key out but was able to get the key ring instead. On one end of the key ring there was a nine month token of sobriety which Lisa had earned. Her boyfriend Forrest had given that to her at a recovery meeting. On the opposite end there was a small, quarter-sized flashlight which I mistakenly thought was a car alarm. When I pressed the button, I was amazed to see the light still shining. It is the light that still shines within Lisa….the light that shines within us all. It represents a symbol of hope amidst the chaos. This key ring goes with me everywhere I go, especially to recovery meetings. It serves as a reminder to carry the message and hope to others who still suffer. At the service today, you were given a heart-shaped light in her memory. Keep the light shining in you always.

      I would like to close by sharing this poem. It's Lisa talking to all of us. It's entitled, "Miss Me, But Let Me Go"

 
Miss Me, But Let Me Go

When I came to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me,
I want no rites in a gloom filled room,
Why cry for a soul set free.
Miss me a little - but not too long,
And not with your head bowed low,
Remember the love that we once shared,
Miss me - but let me go.
For this is a journey that we all must take,
And each must go alone,
It's all a part of the Master's plan,
A step on the road to home.
When you are lonely and sick of heart,
Go to the friends we know,
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds,
Miss me - but let me go."



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