On April 18th I lost my father at the age of 86. Dad was a Father, Veteran and Hero and will be truly missed by many.
Dad was an amazingly talented man; as a father his only purpose was to see that everything he did was with his family in mind. As Dad put it, “Once you have a family you sacrifice EVERYTHING for them – if I have to shovel horse—- to feed the family, I will”. Dad was a model builder by profession, but left that to make more money. He gave up the job he loved to feed the family he loved even more.
He carried on his love of models in our basement, so growing up with him as a Dad was like having your own Santa’s elf; no toy was left broken and no Halloween costume was too difficult to create.
He would try anything to be a part of his children’s lives even if it could result in bodily injury. He was “as coordinated as a duck”, as he put it, so his knees were really sore after his first encounter with ice skates.
When WWII broke out Dad decided to enlist, but when he went to the enlistment station they told him to go home; he was too small. Having been told that, he left not hurt but angry – he wanted to serve. So a couple days later he went to another induction station and talked his way in. The only way was to be assigned to a machine shop, but it didn’t matter, he was in.
Dad was the WWII version of “Radar” – in basic they said his pack weighed more than he did.
He was shipped out to the South Pacific (he spent over a year on Biak Island) where he worked on military aircraft. The service Dad performed in the South Pacific made him proud to have done his part in defending this great land of ours. It was also there that he really developed his interest in airplanes and flying, and which later played a major role in his love of model making.
Dad was a hero to all of those who knew him and his talents. The kids in the neighborhood never had a toy stay broken, and had a surrogate Dad to help them with art projects for school that their own parents either had no clue how to do or didn’t have time. That’s the way he was. If you were a friend of ours, Dad treated you like one of his own. He was also a hero to all those parents whose children were lucky enough to be involved in many of his interests (Civil Air Patrol, Waukegan Model Rocket Club, Waukegan Tamburitzans, Lake County Model Boat Club). Dad was the man that could do everything – his mind was magical and he never had a negative thing to say about anyone. I never met anyone that didn’t like or respect him.
In reflecting on my father’s life I realized that he was about honor, truth and dedication to family, so having said that, I am changing the policy on the farm to include the families of the Veterans. Family unity is what built this place, and it will be fuel to make it grow. We are here to help you Veterans who need us, we are your family and we’re here.
Good-bye Dad. I hope I can be half the man you were.