Dad was born in Olney, Illinois around 1927, the last child to a family of 5 kids. Times were hard back then, and they moved to Bloomington so his dad could get work when he was around 1. He talked about some of the bad conditions, but was always so positive he looked on the bright side and talked about his achievements. As he grew up he had a lot of fun, but always had jobs. From being a caddy at the golf course to delivering milk, he found some kind of work to help out his family. He learned carpentry and sheet metal from his Dad. He developed a natural talent for playing guitar, banjo, and mandolyn, put together a group called the Blue Ridge Boys, and played live music on the radio on Sundays. When WWII came along he joined up early just a week or two before the end. He never went over seas to join his brothers Marshall and Virgil, but did get to go to New York, and San Francisco.
In San Francisco he met Mom, developed an apprenticeship in sheetmetal, and was on his way to a carrer in that. However when he saw the accident rate among his fellow workers he looked around for another type of work a little safer and became a Fireman. As with everythig in life Dad strived to be the best, and became the youngest Captain, and youngest Chief in the Oakland Fire Dept.
My earliest memories of Dad. He was big, strong and safe. He played with Jim, and I in our backyard, and took us on trips to lots of places. When I was little I saw him working with a horse in our backyard pulling out trees, and thought he was a farmer. I said so on a kids TV show, and found out he was really a fireman. He played with me a lot, threw balls, flew kites, pushed me on swings, and carried me on his back when I was tired.
Our trips led us to the beach, parks, Redwood trees, Yosemite, Disneyland, and one big family reunion in Bloomington, Ill. This is all to say he loved family, outdoors, animals, and travel.
As we got older we moved to Castro Valley, the trailers got bigger, we moved up from a sailboat to a motor boat, and Dad stayed real busy studying for his promotion tests. He and Mom always encouraged us to go to church with them, and was involved with our various club activities. Some times he talked about the Fire Dept., but mostly he left it at work.
To relax sometimes he would pull out his banjo or mandolin, and accompany Mom on the organ.
Around Jr. High school years, things were strained at home after his Mom's death, but Dad could always be counted on to make good decisions, and stand by his family.
Even after his retirement and 1st heart attack, he saw me through college, Jim through med. school, and his tragic death. When I got married and had a family he treated my wife like his own daughter, and loved each of his grandkids to pieces. He was always there to help us out when things got difficult, gave sound advice, but never pushed. He always lent a hand, no matter what we decided.
He had a great marriage for many years with Mom, and when she had problems, he stayed with her, no matter how painful, or personal the cost. A picture of faithfulness.
He developed a healthy appreciation of taking walks, and playing golf. During that time he could reflect, refocus, and enjoy the company of some great friends, on some great courses. I was told he never complained, no matter where his shot ended up, and he was always very competitive. I heard he even got Eagle once in Alameda.
He had a great time living at Baywood Court, and making friends He loved helping in different ways, no matter how he felt. He lost Mom about 5 years ago, and had so many health problems, the Kaiser doctors couldn't explain his stamina. But he was able to help out by developing a comprehensive Earthquake Preparedness Plan that can be used in Retirement communities nationally. He also developed some great friendships that have lasted, and one that was very dear. In his last few years he met a special lady named Virginia who made him feel young again, and brought him to an appreciation of God in a personal way.
Dad was kind, gentle, faithful, funny, strong, giving, loving, and brave. I will always honor his memory, keep his love in my heart, and I know I'll see him again someday.