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  • Reverend James Squire

Eulogy on the Celebration of the life of Anthony P. Jannetta




The Reverend James R. Squire, Hon.

The Church of the Redeemer

Bryn Mawr, Pa.

September 16. 2023



Proverbs 29:18 Letter to James 2:14-17 John 14:2-3


Tony Jannetta had a deep affection for two institutions, the Episcopal Academy and the University of Pennsylvania. He made sure that his family knew that and that they would receive the gift of education at those two schools. It was one of the great gifts that he and Sally gave their children. The family has the record at EA for the most members in our community who are connected to both Penn and EA. Remember the old New Yorker Cartoon about another school, but the message is the same. It depicts a Penn Grad in a cloud up to his chest with Penn across his sweat shirt, and St. Peter says, to the Penn grad you must give up all earthly connections to get into heaven. The Penn alumnus has this look on his face that says, undecidedly “I am not sure. Penn or heaven?”


School mottos are meant to be lived and they were as their messages were at the heart of Tony’s life, Penn’s logo, Leges Sine Moribus Vanae. Laws without morals are dead and Esse Quam Videri, EA’s motto To be and not to seem to be. The Letter to James in the New Testament brings these two mottos together when he wrote, “Faith without works is dead.” That was a short description of Tony. He lived in the tradition of Bishop William White. White was on the board at Penn and founded the Episcopal Academy in 1785. Tony made sure that he was walking on the ground of ethics, faith and action as Bishop White was one of the few to stay in the city helping others during a yellow fever epidemic when other leaders just left. These two schools produce a moral framework for their/our graduates. Tony, Sally and his family were part of that tradition of people for others.


What was at the heart and soul of this man who had an indomitable will? He exuded power and engagement. You can discover a great deal about how a person goes about life by what is in their heart in their final days. How we view death is a very real indicator of how we live life.


Tony was a shadow of himself. In his last days, he hadn’t eaten in months. If he were a boxer, he would be sitting on a stool in his corner of the ring not knowing if he could make another round but not wanting to give in. That was a place that was foreign territory for him. That wasn’t who he was, and he knew that. But something else was there ready to emerge like a sunrise. It was a profound thing like the courage of Bishop White. Tony and I had so many exchanges and conversations yes arguments in life that I saw in our conversations the same attribute as he approached death. I saw it then, and I still saw and heard it as he struggled at the end. He would always shift the topic quickly to me, “What are you up to?” It had to be one of his favorite questions.


He channeled the words of Emerson who said when he would greet people, “What’s new with you since we last met.” I had lived a lifetime encountering that formula with Tony. Others first. Tony second. Tony worked for years at IBM, but it could not address that itch that needed to be scratched of the entrepreneurial spirit. There are frequently used words in our culture as we hear about the necessity to live in the existential now, live in the moment, Carpe Diem! Seize the day. Entrepreneurs don’t have much time for the now. They are future oriented. All of Tony’s companies seemed to me to be in the interest of benefitting humankind. Where there is no vision, the people perish according to biblical wisdom literature in the book of Proverbs. Tony was held captive by the vision.


But I noticed something when I mentioned to him on one of my visits that he and I had a shared experience. One of his enterprises involved the work of Dr. Marty Seligman, who founded the Center for Positive Psychology at, where else, Penn. Marty and I were colleagues and friends as well.


I taught two of Marty’s children including the child who much earlier in life was working with him in his garden and called Marty a grouch. That conversation began Marty’s journey in becoming the founder of Positive Psychology, the highest subscribed course at Harvard, 900 students as well as Yale, Penn used the Gratitude Letter which is a core of Positive Psychology in their admissions process. Write a letter to someone who has made a difference in your life and hand deliver it. It is a powerful moment underscoring gratitude to be important in being happy and ethical. To honor Tony, do that some time in your future. But Tony changed in that conversation. I always watch to see what makes people come alive, to wake up, to forget their limitations. He became a different person who was engaged and had a big smile. This was his identity. His current state of struggle wasn’t where he lived. He came alive with future possibilities. That was his bread and butter. We could have been talking over lunch. His start up with Marty would help people become more resilient.


We didn’t discuss Marty’s last book, Homo Prospectus. Tony would have loved hearing the title and the theme of the book. We are called Homo Sapiens which means wise man, a bit presumptuous, don’t you think? Marty said that Homo Prospectus was more accurate for we are a people who are or should be envisioning alternatives stretching into the future. Prospectus has the same root word as prospectors as in prospectors seeking gold, something of value, not necessarily money, that gives us purpose, meaning, joy and is unique to us. Again, we hear the words of the book of Proverbs ring true that without a vision the people perish. I can think of no better phrase to describe Tony and his role as family man, friend to many, and businessman than, Homo prospectus. We are not pushed through life. We are pulled through life as St. Augustine wrote in his seminal work, Confessions that “our heart is restless until it rests in You, Lord God”


There was a moment that I shall not forget. The first time I prayed with Tony, Tim was present, we all held hands, had a prayer of healing, a blessing, and the Lord’s prayer. I looked down at Tony particularly when we were saying the Lord’s Prayer. He seemed at peace. He was more alive like hearing a favorite song, and he was moving forward perhaps thinking of his new future. This was his identity of looking into the unknown with faith and hope.


Laws without morals are dead. To be rather than to seem to be. A prospector seeking the gold of making a better life for others.


Homo Prospectus. I began this reflection today with Tony’s commitment to EA and Penn. What better places or examples do we have of Tony the prospector. Education is the bedrock of the knowledge needed to develop 10 startups involving bioscience, pharmaceuticals, or helping people to be more resilient.


Tony Jannetta, prospector of innovation, to look forward to a world where he didn’t even know what he didn’t know. What did I see that first time I prayed with Tim and Tony as he focused on the importance that he said in that moment, a strong voice repeating so often a prayer that he could pull from earlier times. I saw Tony, the Prospector of his Soul, that his restless heart, was firm and strong, as he waited to be at home in the arms of He who is before time, present in time, and Tony was given the gift of no longer seeing through a glass darkly but now face to face with him who is the alpha and omega, our Lord and God. Amen.

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