- I am Reverend Patricia Mischell, with the Hope Ministries, In
Cincinnati, Ohio where Flip was a speaker and member for the last
eighteen years. I am honored that Flip Wilson requested that I be the
one who would write and give his eulogy.
- Today, my friends, we are gathered together to share with each
other our deepest sorrow of losing our most beloved friend, father,
grandfather, brother, relative, companion, business
acquaintance and fan of Clerow Wilson, best known to the world as Flip
- A man who was born into poverty, raised in foster homes.
Entered the Air Force, and there he earned his nickname Flip,
because of his "flip" sense of humor. Flip was a
charismatic figure. He merits a place in the book of
"great people". By reason of his having lived an
ordinary life extraordinarily well.
- Flip was one of the greatest entertainers and comedians of our
times. Flip was born on this earth with the capacity to become
as he did a unique and special person. Unlike any who has ever
existed before him or will ever exist again.
- Flip was born into life to create magic. And this he
did. He became the grand magician as he became the first
successful black host of a television variety show who turned
himself into such characters as sassy, Geraldine, an unseen person
named Killer, and the Reverend Leroy, the pastor of the Church of
What's Happenin' Now. He went on to create more magic
with "People are Funny" and his CBS sitcom "Charlie
& Company" which co-starred singer Gladys Knight.
- His shows now can be seen on cable Nick at Nite. What a
great joy to know that my grandchildren have the opportunity, as I
have had, to see him. What a great legacy for his family.
- Know, my friends, that our dear beloved Flip is not asleep.
His soul is intoxicated with the love of God. That same love
he shared with so many of us while on the earth.
- He is in comfort, finally at peace. He asks that we not shed
tears for him, but rather remember the good days when he was in his
harvest of life. Flip, believed in Eternal life. Death,
then for Flip is the key to the door of a new life, a new beginning
for him. And I know our dear friend is on his Harley today
riding through those canyons with the wind on his face as he did
when he was here on the earth. He is in comfort, finally at
peace. He ask that we not shed tears for him, but rather
remember the good days when he was in the harvest of life.
Flip believed in Eternal Life.
- Death, then for Flip is the key to the door of a new life, a new
beginning for him. When we think of our dear friend and what he is doing now, think of him in his
hot air balloon flying in the Heavens, which was
one of his favorite hobbies. Or think of Flip playing
golf on one of the most magnificent golf courses in the world.
Or see him standing at the helm of the Grandest of all Cruise Ships
in the world traveling to the most awesome sites and places we can
- I know that when we love someone as we do Flip, there is an
anxiety about the loss of our loved one. And this is because death
appears as the end of our love. And yet, my friends, love
never ends with death, it is just the beginning of how to really love
the one who has gone. During the many years I knew Flip, I saw
a man who was not a publicity seeker, nor a limelight lover.
He worked quietly, humbly, but all the more effectively.
- Flip lived in a world of his own design. With every
comfort Flip would cloak himself, somehow he knew it only moved him
further from the One source he really sought. Whenever he
would buy a trinket, an object, a picture, or a piece of jewelry, often
he would give it up to someone he would meet.
- I asked him one day why he did this? And Flip's reply: " My
joy is in seeing the light peeking out from another's
- Even in Flip's last days of life, although he was racked
with pain he still found time to make his nurses laugh.
His cheerfulness and lucidity belied the fatal character of his
- Flip devoted himself to helping people of all ages. He did
not confuse his priorities. When they lacked groceries, or
their roofs leaked and the wiring in there run-down quarters
wouldn't work, Flip didn't pray to God to help these people acquire
the where-withal to make the necessary repairs, instead he had them
repaired at his own expense. I cannot count on my hands how
many young people Flip has put through college.
- Let me take you back a little and share with you how Flip and I
began our spiritual friendship eighteen years ago.
- Flip had just toasted Dr. Robert Schuller of the Crystal Cathedral
here in California, who was my mentor and teacher at that time.
- One of my parishioners had moved to California during this
time to be close to her grandchild. She became employed as a cook
for Flip and it was through her I was introduced to him.
- She shared with Flip about my ministry, my up coming trip to Egypt
and that I would be attending Dr. Schuller's Institute on
Successful Church Leadership in just a few weeks.
- It was during that trip I was introduced to Flip. Shortly
thereafter Flip and his cook joined us on our trip to Egypt. It was there in Egypt in a land far away, filled with the most
beautiful sacred sights the eyes can behold, Flip and I began our
spiritual connection. Flip would pray daily, along with our group, at the many sacred
sights for World peace.
- The most moving experience for all of us was when we
climbed 500 feet up into the King's Chamber in the Great Pyramid of
Giza. All of us were sitting in silence, praying for our
loved ones and for World peace. It was then Flip began
reciting "The Mother" one of Kahlil Gibran's poems.
As the tears flowed from his eyes we all could feel his pain.
We were so moved by his words, we could not help but cry with him.
- I believe today the same 'Eternal Mother Spirit' Flip recited so eloquently so long ago now holds him tenderly in her arms and wipes
his tears away.
- In October of 1984 was the beginning of Flip's many visits to
our ministry to speak on his favorite subject Kahlil Gibran.
Each visit Flip would choose a theme and I would work my sermon
around it. On his first visit Flip chose the theme
"Love" taken from Kahlil Gibran's works, "The Prophet."
- It was during this visit our congregation had it's first glimpse
of the depth of Flip's 'Love' for the human race. One of our parishioner's
father passed away during Flip's
visit. Although he had only met her briefly on our Egypt trip, he insisted
on visiting her fathers funeral to pay his last respects.
That, my friends, was love in its purest sense. Yes, Flip gave
love without reservation. And he never asked for anything in
return. Flip shared his love of God by loving unconditionally
his fellow man.
- Another time while speaking at our church, Flip spoke about
old age using the works of Gibran's, "The Speechless Animal."
The story is about an old dog that is covered with sores who had
fallen on weekend legs. He had served man both with faith and
loyalty and yet in his old age, he was driven from his home and was
abandoned in the alleys. Again, the tears flowed from his eyes
as he recited this beautiful composition. I encourage
you to read this poem one day for yourself, there is a great lesson
in it for all of us.
- After Flip recited "The Speechless Animal," he shared
with us how his appreciation for this piece had developed from an
experience he had during a ride across Colorado.
- Flip had taken two weeks of flying lessons and was on his way
back home, when he pulled into a rest stop along the side of
the road. Before he could get out of his car a dog came out of the
fields next to the rest stop and sat down in
front of Flip's car.
- Flip said, he always thought that animals knew what they
wanted to do, so he got out of the car and opened
up the side door of the car and waited for the dog to get in.
Well, the dog came around to the side of the car, looked
into the car, but he didn't get in. So Flip closed the side
door of the car and got into the drivers seat to pull away and darn if the dog didn't come right back and sit down in front of
the car so Flip couldn't move. Flip said, "he
got out of the car walked around to the side of the car and
opened up the side door again." The dog came around to
the side of the car and looked into the car, but wouldn't get
in." So Flip said, "He waited a few minutes, closed the car
door, got back into drivers seat, gave
the car some gas, backed up so he wouldn't hit the dog. Sure enough the dog comes around sits right down in front of the
car so Flip couldn't move."
- Now Flip decides he is going to try a different strategy. He
thinks, "Maybe I need to get down on the level of the
dog." So he gets out of the car, lays down on the
ground, and the dog comes over and sniffs Flip all over. After
the dog stops sniffing Flip. Flip gets up and opens the car
door again and invites the dog to come in. The dog looks inside
but he still doesn't get in. So Flip say's to himself,
"That's it." So he gets back into the car to drive
away and the dog comes back and sits down in front of his car so he
- Now by this time his friend in the car say's "Oh no, Flip, were
not going through this again!" So his friend gets out of
the car and picks up the dog, puts the dog in the back seat and
Closed the door. The dog just sits there and
looks at the two of them as if to say, "Hey you dummies why
didn't you do this a long time ago."
- So Flip said, "The dog had been with him ever since." In fact he said, "That dog was the best
friend he ever had in his life." Flip said, "Out of all
the pedigree dogs I have ever owned, those five, six or seven
hundred dollar Hollywood dogs, they never compared with the dog that
came out of the field and went to Hollywood to live with me.
Because that's where he wanted to be."
- On another visit to speak, Flip, chose the subject, "The
Greatest Experience of Man." I chose 1 Corinthians,
chapter 13, Verse 12. which says: "For now we see in a
mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but
then I shall know just as I also am known." Keep this verse
in mind as I share Flip's story with you.
- Flip, told us the story of a British army officer who had served
many years in His Majesty's forces in India. Flip said,
"The officer had come through many frightening experiences.
In his old age he returned to his native England to spend his
declining days on his home soil. Well, one day some friends
persuaded him to tell them something of his life and service in
India. With great gusto, he describes the battles in which he
had fought and sieges in which he had taken part. He told
of being ambushed and surprised by the enemy. He told of his
part in the Mutiny, which was a bloody affair. His friends in breathless interest strained to hear every word of
his account and at last the veteran officer declared:
"Yet, gentlemen, I expect to see something more thrilling than
anything I have ever seen up to now." His Friends thought, "What could be more exciting than what
he had gone through?" What experience could be more
nerve-tingling than the battles and struggles he had already
- The Friends knew he was past seventy and retired from active
service. So they waited to hear what could be more
exciting. After a pause, he said slowly and softly, almost in
an undertone, "The best is yet to come." "My greatest
experience will be the first five minutes after death." Flip's words "The best is yet to come" are very familiar
with those of us who have known him over the years. In fact, it was one of Flip's favorite sayings!
- Why have I shared this story with you? It's because I was with
Flip during the last few days of his life, and was able to
experience first-hand Flip's beginning journey into God's World.
- One time while praying with Flip he reached up his arms into the
the air, a smile formed on his lips, as he began a conversation with
his Father who had passed away a long time ago." It was then, I knew that God was dropping the veil from
Flip's eyes, allowing him to take a peak into the world he
would soon be apart of. Another time while praying out loud with
him, Flip interrupted me
with these words, "Oh! Look at the beautiful light.
light is so bright. It's so colorful. I have never seen
anything like it." It was moments like these I knew not to
speak. For it was then I knew Flip was in the midst of
viewing, admiring, enjoying something beyond my worldly
understanding. As I sat quietly with him, out of the silence
he uttered the words, "Not yet. I am not ready!"
- Wednesday morning, on November 25th, the day before Thanksgiving,
Flip was ready. That morning Flip reached up his arms into the air
as he had done so often before. With a smile on his lips and
his eyes opened wide, looking into the air he says to his nurse,
"The angels are here." Kahlil Gibran, describes this
event in his writings of, "A Poet's Death Is His
Life." I quote,
"Then at the bedside of the dying poet appeared an angel who
possessed a supernatural and divine beauty, holding in her hand a
wreath of lilies. She embraced him and closed his eyes so he
could see no more, except with the eye of his spirit. She
impressed a deep and long and gently withdrawn kiss that left an
eternal smile of fulfillment upon his lips."
- Yes, now Flip was ready! His angels had come to comfort him,
to assist him in his last few moments of living, and to be with him,
during his "first five minutes after death." This was only one
of the many beautiful experiences Flip had before he left
us. I believe during these visions Flip had acquired a
knowledge of God that goes beyond the wisdom of even the
- Flip knew things which the keenest minds of all ages have tried to
understand and figure out. So, it's no wonder that the
experienced, veteran officer Flip spoke to us about from India, who
had gone through some of the most thrilling experiences possible to
man, nevertheless still looked forward to the most thrilling of them
all. 'The first five minutes after death."
- I believe Flip and that old soldier expressed a thought upon
which each of us might dwell on today. And that is, "What will
our soul experience during our first five minutes after
death?" I believe Flip's soul
experienced the truth of St. Paul's words to the Corinthians
"For now we see in a mirror, dimly but then face to face.
Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am
- Yes, it was in those 'First five minutes after death' God lifted
the veil fully from Flip's eyes so that he could really see face to
face. No longer with dim vision. Flip knew as he had
always known. Yes, Flip knew at that moment what he had always been
believing in. This was for real. He was actually
seeing. No longer did he merely believe!
- It was this truth that led Flip into the silence of his
Being. It is here Flip began to remember all that he had
forgotten. He began to remember where he had come from.
And it was then he saw the face of God and he spoke to his angels.
- May today's memorial service for this good man live in our hearts
forever. There is a shrine in our hearts to him, more enduring
than the most solid stone or steel could erect.
- We all know of the many memorials which Flip himself has
left to our world. So let us ask ourselves, "what
kind of memorials can we build for him? How will we keep Flip's
memory fresh in our sad hearts?" I do not believe Flip would want us to flatter
him. They say the
highest form of flattery is imitation. By that we mean, the greatest
praise one can give a person I believe is to live like that person, to think, to speak,
and to act like that individual.
- Here then is our memorial to you Flip Wilson! "May the
example of your good works, your love for those less fortunate then
yourself, be an inspiration to every single one of us."
This is the legacy, I believe, Flip wishes to leave behind. As we leave this memorial service today, may we leave with
laughter and you Flip in our hearts. For we know that God is
now laughing as you bring to Him your laughter and your wit you gave
to all of us so freely.
- I believe these would be the words Flip would share with you
today. My friends and my family become aware of your
light. Your power. Become aware of your strength
that is born within each of you. Learn to use your inner
resources in service of your own and others' growth, as I have tried
to do while in the earth. Because of the reflection of that
love; because of your loving behavior, you will shine a light that
will brighten the darkness of the time we live in, whether it is in
a sickroom of a dying patient, or on the corner of a ghetto street
in California, or in your own home.
- As I close, know that Flip now rests from his labors of the
earth. And from the words of Kahlil Gibran's, "The Beauty
of Death", Flip says and I paraphrase: Let me rest in the
arms of Slumber, for my open eyes are tired. I have passed a
mountain peak and my soul is soaring in the firmament of complete
and unbound freedom; and I can hear nothing but the music of
Eternity; I have fought the battle of death and now I have released
my soul to my heavenly Father.