Sadly last Saturday July 14, 2012 at 5:30 AM my father lost his battle with a brain tumor. He was loved and will be missed by many. I posted about him a few months back here.
In meeting with the priest at my parents church Sunday he asked about memories we had of him. I came to realize that I am my father’s daughter. We have the same crazy personality and sense of humor. We have the same cheeks. We have the same basic outlook on life. I will miss him terribly.
Dad was born in Perryville, MO November 26, 1937. He was the youngest of six children, 2 sisters and 3 brothers. He graduated from McBride High School in St. Louis. In his teens he worked at the historic Fox Theater, which furthered his love of movies. After a brief stint at Washington University he decided to go to auto mechanic school, laying the foundation for a lifelong passion.
Here he is below with his dad and all his siblings and their spouses.
From left to right. First row: my Aunt Gwen (dad’s oldest sister), my aunt Phil (sister), Aunt Betty, my mom, Aunt Phil and Aunt Reba. Back row: Uncle Jack, a different Uncle Jack, Uncle Lee (my dad’s oldest brother), Grandpa, my dad, Uncle Bud and Uncle Dan.
Looking for some direction dad attempted to enlist in the army. He and two friends went down to the local recruiter and signed up on the “buddy system”. Dad didn’t pass the physical exam due to his eyesight and his other friend didn’t pass the written exam. So his third friend went in to the army alone on the “buddy system”. Ironically he ended up in the same unit as Elvis Presley, whom dad was a big fan.
In 1961 dad’s brother Felix (known as Bud to family and friends) asked him if he wanted to move out to Seattle with him. Dad accepted and never looked back.
In Seattle dad worked in the printing industry. Through the Chancellor club, he met and fell in love with a wonderful woman. Shirley Strum, who would eventually become his wife and mother to us three kids; myself, my sister Denise & my brother Mark. He made quite a first impression by stating his job title was “stripper” which is the industry name for lithographer.
Dad was always ready to laugh and tell story after story. Family game night was a particular pleasure and he was tough to beat at Trivial Pursuit. Often after much internal deliberation where the family was all required to be silent, he would pull some obscure factoids from out of nowhere.
Travel was a passion he shared with mom. He always found a way to put together a family vacation whether it was flying to Disney World or road tripping to Yellowstone. I remember we borrowed our Uncle Buds “Mini Wini” and during a particularly violent rainstorm – us three kids had to take turns sitting behind mom in the passenger seat and holding a towel over her head. Over the years, especially after retirement, he looked forward to adventures in faraway places. He and mom traveled to China, Mexico, England and enjoyed several cruises including Alaska and Mexico.
Dad enjoyed working on restoring his cars, specifically Studebakers of which he rebuilt three from scratch. Below are photos of his 1963 Avanti and 1962 Grand Tourismo Hawk. In recent years he loved driving his Porsche Boxster. Having three children in their teens there was no shortage of putting his mechanic skills to good use. He would often answer the phone when my brother called with “what’s wrong with the car now”?
Recently on the fourth of July I was with a friend and his two boys and one of the boys pointed out a plant and asked me if I knew what the flower was called. I immediately without thinking too much about it quoted my dad “well, it’s an aint rose”. My friend’s son looked at me quizzically. I explained my mother is fond of gardening and my dad could never remember the names of all the flowers in her garden. He would say, “there are two kinds of flowers, roses and aint roses. That’s how I keep them straight. If this aint a rose, then it’s an aint rose”. That of course sent my friend’s son in to fits of laughter.
Dad was a person who everyone knew. He loved people and would always chose his friends. He was fun to be around and everyone cherished the advice, love and care which he had to share. You were taken before your time and I love you!
My car has been in the shop and I have been driving my dad’s Porsche Boxster. Yesterday I took him for his last spin from the church to the cemetery.
To quote one of dad’s favorite movies, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”.