Losing my father suddenly in 1976 when my son was not quite a year old, was traumatic. It was the first death of someone close to me. I couldn’t bear to be in the same room as his casket. He was to have come to my house the next day. I had a list of Daddy-Dos waiting for him to accomplish.
He was the perfect father: loving, giving, encouraging, spiritually uplifting, and he loved being a grandpa. My mother said there was no bigger kid than Daddy. He was right down on the floor and making more noise than anyone.
As the fourth child of thirteen, the farm family needed the older children to find jobs to help support the large family. Daddy quit school at age 16 to work in a bowling alley setting pins to help support his family.
He was a life-long learner type of person. The books he studied the most were the Bible and a dictionary. He loved learning new words, and got himself into trouble a time or two for using a word no one else understood, as they misinterpreted the meaning.
When I was 3, he became a janitor at our Central School which served 500 kids from the surrounding hills and vales of our hamlet in southern New York State. In a few years, he became the Head Custodian. When the school installed a new septic system, he needed a high school diploma to take the week long seminar at Cornell University to learn to operate the system. In his 50s, he studied for the GED and passed. My mother proudly framed and hung his diploma in our kitchen.
He was a pillar in our community — a Sunday School teacher of an adult class for many years, on the official board of the church, served as Deacon and as Trustee, was on the board of the town’s public library (My mother was the children’s librarian, then became the Librarian). He was on the Civil Defense team and a volunteer fireman. He also led the jail religious services monthly at the County Jail.
He drove school bus through his years working at the school. His route went past our house. As he drove by each morning, he honked his horn to wake me up. A sweet memory!!!
August 1976, we met my parents at the Arcade-Attica Railroad to ride behind the old steam engine. So grateful we took the picture above.
October 1976, a month before he died, we visited my parents in the snow belt south of Buffalo with our three year old daughter and almost a year old son. We did not come prepared. He took Karin out to play in the new-fallen snow in her sneakers. A remembrance Karin and I cherished.