It’s been one week since Dad died. Yesterday we held a Memorial in his honor. This is how we remembered him:
DAD’S EARLY YEARS
Dad was born in 1932 in Lorain, Ohio. He was an only child. Dad grew up in his Grandmother’s house with his many aunts and uncles acting as surrogate brothers and sisters. Dad said there were so many of them they had to sleep three to a bed. When they got in trouble at bedtime, Dad was so skinny he could roll between the bed and the wall to escape my Great Grandmother’s spankings. Once my Great Grandmother left the room however, Dad said his uncles would make up for the spanking he didn’t get from her.
Dad attended Lorain High School where he played football, basketball and baseball. It was at Lorain High School football game where my Dad noticed my Mom. Unfortunately, Mom happened to attend the cross-town rival High School in Elyria. Dad got my Mom’s phone number and as they say the rest is history. After graduating from High School, Dad joined the United States Navy where he served as Boatswain’s Mate Second Class on the USS Roosevelt. One of his favorite trips he always told us was going through the Panama Canal.
Dad and Mom were married in 1952. They moved from Ohio to Key West, Florida where Dad continued his career with the Navy. Eventually Dad was transferred to Long Beach, California which became his primary state of residence for over 48 years. It’s hard to believe my Dad and Mom would have been married for 65 years this year.
After leaving the Navy Dad began working at Hughes Aircraft Company as a warehouse stock clerk. Dad told me while he was in the Hospital that organizing this large warehouse stock room was one of his greatest achievements. In fact, Dad so loved organizing he would arrange and re-arrange things around the house (especially in the kitchen) often frustrating my Mom who would go to look for something and it wouldn’t be there.
For over 40 years, Dad held various positions at Hughes in Corporate, Space and Communications and Radar Groups. He told us stories about seeing Howard Hughes in the hallways in Culver City. I also remember my sister and I spending hours with him at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena while he was supporting the Surveyor Program. Surveyor was a NASA program that sent seven robotic spacecraft to the surface of the moon. Dad was so proud when we visited the Smithsonian Institute in DC and saw the Surveyor spacecraft on display there.
Dad’s position as Intelsat IV Program Manager led our family to a four-year overseas assignment in England. There we had the opportunity to travel all over Europe. One day when we thought we were dropping Dad off at the airport for another of his business trips, he surprised all of us by taking us with him to Paris. We all got on the plane with him even though we had nothing packed. We bought toothbrushes etc. in the airport gift shop. It was a wonderful surprise. One we will never forget.
In 1994, Dad finished up his career at Hughes Corporate as the Vice President of International Marketing. As he and my Mom were driving away in the limousine Dad on his final day, Dad stood up through the moon roof and flipped off the company. Since my sister, husband and I were all still Hughes employees we figured our careers would soon be over after this parting gesture.
Dad was a fun loving, extremely hard working, active, and charitable human being. He made immediate friends with strangers, and could talk your ear off. He loved to interact with people. We’d be at CVS or Costco and I’d turn around to see him having in depth conversations with someone in one of the aisles. Even in the Hospital Dad shared many of his stories with the Nurses, Physical and Respiratory Therapists.
Dad loved movies especially westerns and musicals. In fact, I think my sister and I were the only little girls who saw every single John Wayne movie when they came out. Yes, every single John Wayne movie. I never understood this wasn’t the norm until I was older. Dad also introduced us to the arts. Plays, music, museums of every genre. My Mom says they probably saw Phantom of the Opera at least 5 times. Records played constantly so music always filled our house. I know all the words to every Neil Diamond song because of my Dad.
Dad loved every type of sporting event from football to golf. He watched both professional and college sports. The weekends were for sports. No if, ands or buts. His favorite teams included the Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Cavaliers, University of Oregon Ducks, Ohio State Buckeyes and of course the Los Angeles Lakers. He had season tickets for the UCLA Bruins and LA Kings for many years. Before he died he told us he was hoping the Atlanta Falcons would win the Super Bowl. Let’s hope he is right.
Dad was very strong-willed, loved to debate and had a fighting spirit. If you ever tried to have a conversation with him about sports or politics, you learned this about him the hard way. As an example of his fighting spirit, Dad lobbied the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners to restore the holes that were seized from the Westchester Golf Course for roadway construction. Dad believed it was so important to remove the “dubious distinction” of Westchester being the only 15-hole golf course in the United States and Canada that he fought for 10 long years. Yes, 10 years. Finally, in 2010, he achieved success and the three holes were added back to the Golf Course for future generations of golfers (including his Grandson) to enjoy.
DAD’S GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT
If you asked my Dad what was his greatest achievement he would say his family. His wife: Marty; two daughters: Sharon and Diane; three grandchildren: Lauren, Cooper, and Kallyn; two sons-in-law: Ron and Bob; and his six furry grandchildren: Curlee, Smokey, Cosmo, Ozzie, Angel and Calvin. For many years, every family celebration was marked by Dad reciting an ode or poem he had written. On Father’s Day 2012 he wrote, “You start out with a lot of confidence, then they start to grow up and before you realize it, they are on their own. It’s not that I mind them growing up. It is the years in between childhood and maturity. That’s when you hope and pray you have been doing a good job. I guess on a scale of 1 to 10 I would rate myself an 8 (although their Mother would probably rate me as 5).”
Well Dad, as I stand here today before your family and friends I would have to say your loving family unanimously rates you as “10”. Thank you for always being there. Thank you for being caring and forgiving. Thank you for showing us what love is all about.
Since you couldn’t have a beer in the Hospital (and believe me he asked everyone, including the respiratory therapists to get him one), I’d like to finish up this eulogy by asking everyone to raise your make-believe glasses in a toast to Dad:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His Hands.
Sending you love, comfort and peace!