Ed Binkerd has died. He was 78 years old.
You’ve probably never heard of him and the death of someone his age is not remarkable in and of itself. But, Ed was a remarkable man — remarkable for his warmth, remarkable for his generosity of spirit, and remarkable for his charm and wit.
I first met him aboard the Bottom Line, a yacht whose owner has hosted many for an evening cruise or dinner on Fort Lauderdale’s Intracoastal Waterway. There was something about his ramblings and intermittent chuckling that caught my attention. He wasn’t just entertaining; he was intelligent, warm and funny.
He was “between opportunities” as we say of professionals on the hunt for a job. Soon enough, he started a consultancy that drew on his experiences in corporate human resources. But I thought that beneath his talents.
When the first issue of “From the Birdbath” showed up in my inbox, I thought of it as a better manifestation of his personality. Filled with facts (he called them Obscurata), stories of his family (and their dog), observations about current events, and a bit of frivolity thrown in on the side, it was a welcome distraction from my daily drudgery.
In the February 2016 issue, he provided us with a one page essay on pineapples; the calculation of the kinetic energy produced by a bullet, a car and a locomotive; and, quotes from Abraham Lincoln, Noel Coward and Edna Ferber. Then he added this:
FAILED GENETICS EXPERIMENT: Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe got married and 9 months later welcomed a new baby daughter into the world. She looked like her father and had her mother’s intelligence.
You get the idea, right? He was like a well-educated gumball machine. Whatever was in his head, dropped onto the back of his tongue and came out of his mouth.
In the August edtion, he wrote a short essay about the site of the Summer Olympics (Rio, in case you forgot) and mused about the reluctance of human beings to adapt and change, closing with the remark, “There’s no real point to this piece. I just think it’s interesting stuff.”
I quite agree.
Last June, he provided a summary of Hitler’s health (not very healthy was Adolph) and told a brief story of the first English settlers in Australia asking about a strange looking animal. The aborigines responded “Kan ghu ru” which means “I don’t understand you” in their native tongue. You can guess the end of the story.
In December, he quoted a sign he spotted in a hospital ICU:
THE MOMENT YOU’RE READY TO QUIT IS USUALLY THE MOMENT RIGHT BEFORE THE MIRACLE HAPPENS. DON’T GIVE UP
A birdbath is a perfect metaphor for Ed musings. Some birds splash about for a bit and get on with their day. Blue jays preen and bully. Others squawk and squabble while meek, little wrens sneak in at odd intervals when no larger bird is about. It’s orderly chaos!
His last issue was distributed posthumously by his wife of more than 38 years, Sharon. It included Obscurata about the Philippines, a history of why men and women button their shirts from opposite sides, and a brief story:
Location: Diafarabe, Mali “When we met, the boy was carrying his shoes in his hands as he couldn’t use them anymore. Traveling prepared makes a difference, and with my sewing needle and dental floss, we patched them up, so that he could follow his herd.”
The headline for this brief tale was, “AND, WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST PROBLEM?”
The header for each issue of “From the Birdbath” went like this:
The name of this publication is a reflection of the author’s body of knowledge – broad in scope but lacking depth. In this and future issues, we will explore virtually every subject known to mankind, except politics and sports, topics already covered in nauseating detail by the media. The author reserves the right to express opinions and make comments on subjects about which he has very little knowledge. Of course, reader comments are always welcome.
Rest in peace, Ed Binkerd. You will be missed.