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For the week of January 3 through January 9, 2001

Friends, family eulogize Hemingway

"The young people have got it together. You’ve just got to let the old bastards die."

Butch Harper, former Ketchum District ranger, quoting Jack Hemingway

Express Staff Writer

As memorial services go, Jack Hemingway’s was unusually high-spirited.

Express photo by Willy CookAn emotional Mariel Hemingway says, "I miss you, Daddy."

But perhaps that’s not too surprising for a man famous for his indomitable good humor, gifted story-telling ability, love of food and ceaseless enthusiasm for enjoying and conserving the natural world.

Nearly 300 of Hemingway’s friends and family made abundantly clear at Saturday’s Sun Valley Inn memorial service that he had been a guide in how life should be lived.

Hemingway died at the age of 77 in a New York City hospital Dec. 2. of complications following heart surgery.

The memorial, open to the public, followed a private memorial in New York on Dec. 9.

Gov. Dirk Kempthorne’s eulogy included readings from Jack Hemingway’s book, Misadventures of a Fly Fisherman: My Life With and Without Papa.

Daughter and actress Mariel Hemingway, brother Patrick Hemingway, Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, actor Adam West, sportscaster Tim Ryan, actor Scott Glen and several of Idaho’s leading conservationists were just a few of the more than a dozen people Saturday to eulogize the man known for living the kind of life his father, novelist Ernest Hemingway, was famous for writing about.

Friend and fishing partner Dan Callahan recounted his first fishing trip with Hemingway 40 years ago to Yellowstone National Park. A bottle of gin featured heavily in the tale that ended with Hemingway’s eating a 2 1/2-inch-long "salmon fly," sipping a Chilean wine and remarking earnestly, "The wine is wrong."

"My father, in an unconventional way, was a priest of sorts … in the greatest cathedral of all -- nature," Mariel Hemingway said during her emotional eulogy. "His communion took place in the streams he waded…He was with his flock in his church."

She called her father a "humble and grateful man," who managed to live a positive and full life even though his father shot himself and his daughter Margaux died at 41 in Santa Monica, Calif., from an overdose of barbiturates.

"In spite of the tragedies that have happened in my family," she said, "they were certainly not his fault."

Adam West, who played Batman in the 1960s television series, called Hemingway a "raconteur" and an "uncommon man with an uncommon touch."

West joked that the accomplished fly fisherman was "incredibly jealous of my casting ability" and jealous of the "bat flies" he would tie.

West said that rather than dwelling on Hemingway’s death, "I prefer to think that Jack has just gone fishing."

Gov. Dirk Kempthorne said, "I don’t know what it is, but just being here is kind of emotional."

Kempthorne said he was "honored and humbled" to speak at the service. He traveled from Boise for the service even though Saturday was his son’s birthday.

He said Jack Hemingway "enhanced" a great name inherited "by birth right."

No doubt, Hemingway lived a life among celebrities. He grew up surrounded by an elite literary crowd that included his father’s friends James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos and Ezra Pound. His daughters Margaux and Mariel both became well-known models and actors. But his hunting and fishing friends who spoke Saturday testified to Hemingway’s own accomplishments as an Idaho conservationist.

Guy Bonnivier, recently retired director of The Nature Conservancy of Idaho, said Hemingway’s dedication and personality saved Silver Creek in southern Blaine County when it was threatened by development in the 1970s.

Hemingway was willing to take some "personal hits" to protect fishing and hunting areas, Bonnivier said. "When he supported a cause, it made many adversaries think twice."

Butch Harper, former Ketchum District forest ranger, said Hemingway once summed up his optimism for the future of Idaho’s wild areas, despite the efforts of aging anti-conservationists, like this: "The young people have got it together. You’ve just got to let the old bastards die."

Hemingway’s wife Angela, said her husband completed a memoir just before he fell ill. Titled A Life Worth Living, the book is already scheduled to be published.

Hemingway’s family held a private reception following Saturday’s public service.


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