December 31, 1999

From my perspective, there were three events, in no particular order, that determined who Dad was and what he was about.

One of those events, of course, was his marriage to Mom. Fifty-seven years, nine children, nineteen grandchildren, and three great grandchildren live as a testament to the strong family ties we share today. Life with Dad was always fun. The Sunday drives, the trips to the lake. There were times when the road was a little bumpy though. But leave it to Mom and Dad to smooth things over. We never wanted for anything we needed. And who else could turn powdered eggs and dried milk into quiche?

Another event in Dad's life was the war. The label of "hero" has always meant to me as one person who would lay his life down for another. Too often today we attach the label of "hero" to sports figures, actors, kings and presidents. Most of the time this just does not apply. To paraphrase Tom Hanks, some fifty odd years ago, Dad interrupted his life, along with millions of others, and left his home and family in order to save the world. These ordinary men who did an extraordinary thing are genuine heroes. And I will always be proud to count Dad among them.

The third event that had a profound influence in Dad's life was the Great Depression. Scraping by to help meet the family's needs and doing with out so many of the ordinary things that we take for granted today tested the mettle of a ten year old at that time. Times were indeed tough. But Dad came through those struggles always with a sense of humor. That was the spin he put on things.

So now, in my life when things are not always so easy; when the car breaks down; when the job isn't going so well; when the meat of life gets tough. I'll take a step back, relax, and smile, and remember those words I heard so often sitting around the picnic table in the dining room: "It's tougher where there isn't any!"

So long, Dad.
Love, Rick