Remembering Joel Pravda
(October 18, 1942, to April 11, 1999)
    

 

"Let the good time roll"

By Howie Levy

 

Many of my fondest recollections from my adolescence involved my dear friend, classmate, and high school fraternity brother, Joel Pravda, to whose memory this website is dedicated. When Joel was taken from us suddenly in 1999, although it was one of the saddest and hardest things I ever did, I felt somehow privileged to be able to deliver this eulogy for him:

[Wait for the voiceover to begin before scrolling,
and stay with the page until the music ends.]

 

Joel Pravda was my very dear friend for a very long time. Since 1953, he was my very dear friend.

If I were to relate to you but a small fraction of the great memories I have of times spent with Joel, you would all be here much longer than you want to. But most of you have your own fond memories of him.

However, I do want to say at least one thing that most of you already know — that my friend, Joel, was truly one-of-a-kind. I live in Las Vegas, but I am not a gambling man. Nevertheless, I would bet that there is not one, single person in this room who has ever met anyone quite like Joel.

As I am certain his family will testify, and I am also sure that many of you also know, Joel was a proud and loving father, husband, son and brother — and he was a wonderful friend. Before he got ill a couple of years ago, Joel had a joi d’ vive and a sense of humor that was unmatched by anyone on this planet. He made people laugh.

But not everyone loved Joel. If Joel didn’t like you — or something about you — he would surely tell you — and tell you like it is. Some people don’t like that. But Joel didn’t care what anybody thought about him. He cared only about what he thought was right.

On the other hand, the people that did love him — and I know there are many, many who did, besides his family and the others here in this room — those people really loved him. I know — I loved him for over 45 years. And I will surely miss him for the rest of my life — but I will miss him especially at our 40-year high school reunion scheduled for next year.

So let’s let Joel teach us (all of us) a lesson today — to make sure we go to all the high school reunions, all the weddings, and all the other happy occasions that can be shared with the people we love, no matter how far we have to travel. You never know who will be gone for the next one.

Thanks for giving me the chance to express my feelings today about my fallen friend as we join his loving and devoted wife, Vivien, and their two fine young sons, Craig and Todd, and say goodbye to Joel for the last time.

Goodbye, old friend. May God rest your soul.

  

Yes, my dear friend, Joel, made all of us laugh — and now he has made us all cry. But when the tears have dried — and we have all gone back to our daily lives — I know my friend would have wanted words like these to be his legacy — and be inscribed on a monument in the hearts of all who loved him:

"Let the good time roll."

His family and dear friends remember Joel for the love and the laughter he gave us all.

*  *  *  *  *

Joel always wanted to be a lawyer and vowed not to be distracted by getting serious with any woman until he reached that goal. But in 1967 — when he was still in law school, he met Vivien, and he broke his vow to himself and proposed to her the night they met. They were soon married.

At our OHS graduation in 1960

 

We all knew Joel liked to clown around, but how many of you ever saw him like this (picture at left, taken in 1959)? (This was the real Joel Pravda!) A couple of other 1959 photos follow at right:

  

   

Below are some photos of Joel and Vivien early in their life together:

  

 

This one is with Joel's parents, Sid and Laura


 

    
Always loving the limelight, Joel was happy to be the MC at our 20-year reunion in 1980. Here are two photos from that event, the second one with classmate, Bill Liebman:

           

 

 Here is Bill Liebman with Joel and me celebrating 40 years of friendship in 1994.                     

  

And here is one of the last photos I have of Joel, with some of our classmates who loved him:


  

Classmates and other visitors are invited to submit material for a special
memorial page like this for any other departed classmate. Just e-mail it to me.

 

Howie

 

 

Copyright © 2000-2012  by Howard B. Levy and 1960 Sailors Association Inc. All rights reserved.