Farewell to David Packard
Publication Date: Wednesday Apr 3, 1996

COMMUNITY: Farewell to David Packard

Mourners fill Memorial Church to pay respects to a great man

About 1,300 mourners, from Gov. Pete Wilson to local public officials and Hewlett-Packard employees, packed Stanford's Memorial Church Friday to celebrate the life of David Packard and say goodbye.

Robert Gregg, dean of Memorial Church, officiated over the emotional 45-minute service. Five others offered tributes to the Hewlett-Packard co-founder, including his son David Woodley Packard.

Packard told the audience that his father had written his family a letter saying "very sternly" that he did not want a memorial service when he died. But, his son said, when pressed on the subject, he gave a "grunt," which son David took to mean it would be grudgingly tolerated.

Packard's partner and good friend Bill Hewlett sat in the front pew, after being helped from a wheelchair to his seat. Packard's family, including his children and grandchildren, sat in several rows next to and behind Hewlett and his wife Rosemary.

Guests were handed printed programs, with a sepia-toned photograph of David Packard looking back as he drives a tractor on his ranch. Underneath the photo, the program says simply, "Dave Packard, 1912-1996. Rancher, Etc."

"Those of you who knew my father will understand why we chose this picture," his son said. On the back was a portrait of a smiling Lucile Salter, taken in 1935, with the caption "Dave's Sweetheart."

"My father and my mother were each other's sweethearts, and they're together again," he concluded. Packard was buried alongside his wife in Altamont Cemetery in Los Altos.

Packard, said Stanford University Provost Condoleezza Rice, will be remembered as "a foundational figure of this university. . . . There are few sons of Stanford who have embraced its purpose so totally and with such grace. (He had) a belief in the human potential that was unshakeable."

Rice recalled a visit she and Stanford President Gerhard Casper made to Packard several years ago. All he asked, she said, was "what can we do to help?"

"We've lost a great leader," said Hewlett-Packard CEO Lew Platt. "I didn't fully understand how unusual this company is until I became CEO," he said, with its written set of values, and its philosophy toward its employees. The most important lesson he learned from Packard, he said, is to apply common sense consistently.

"I'm glad I had a chance to know Dave. I've seen the magic of his ways."

Former Secretary of Defense George Shultz recalled Packard's wisdom and demeanor as a deputy secretary of defense in the Nixon Administration.

"I've seen him at ease, I've seen him under pressure. He was always the same," he said. "Dave was a decider, not a ducker. He knew what he thought, and he made decisions that worked."

His other secret, Shultz said, was he was always trying to learn, always asking how things worked. "Honesty, leadership, learning. To me, that's David Packard. I salute him for his vast accomplishments. I thank him for all he has taught me. I grieve at the loss of this great, patriotic American."

Packard and college buddy Morrie Doyle's last fishing trip together was in October, Doyle recalled from the church podium. They fished for trout in a river that explorers Lewis and Clark forded. "It was a beautiful excursion," Doyle said. He bid farewell to his friend, reciting a verse from an Irish poem:

"May the road rise to meet you,

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm on your face, the grain flow gently in your fields.

And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of His hand."

After the service, dignitaries and friends, including San Jose Mayor Susan Hammer, greeted Hewlett, and filed out to the quad in front of the chapel for a reception accompanied by the Turk Murphy Alumni Band, one of Packard's favorites.

--Elizabeth Darling 

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