My Dad died on September 6th. I had just seen him 2 weeks before. He was not himself, but I also chalked that up to his age of 84.
Here is the Eulogy I wrote for my Dad.
How does one sum up 84 years of life.
My Dad was born in Wauwatosa on July 26th, 1932, at home, the youngest of 3 boys. He and his brothers were very close in age and in heart. He graduated from Wauwatosa High School in 1950.
Dad grew up during the depression, he was from the generation that didn’t discuss money or politics. Dad’s goal was that everyone would get along.
He was drafted into the Army at the end of the Korean conflict. He went over to Japan and was a Radar Operator in Korea. He told me about how he would track the planes flying overhead. Because he was tall, he was flag bearer at the beginning of the parade when someone important was visiting. Other than that, my Dad didn’t talk much about his time in the Army, but one summer when my husband (who was a HAM radio operator) and I were visiting, my husband was communicating in morse code on his radio and my Dad said…well, it’s been a long time since I heard that.
Dad finished his degree in Art Education at the University of Wisconsin. He spent the majority of his career selling Yellow Pages ads. He even had me help him cut and paste the art into the ads when it meant cutting with a scissor and pasting with rubber cement
He spent a summer working overnights at the Schlitz Brewery watching the line for short fills. He just retold the story to me 2 weeks ago. About working the overnight, and how there would be a guy on the other side of the line from him. If either one of them started to drift off to sleep, they would take one of the short fill bottles, shake it up, and spray the other to wake them up. After a night such as this one, my Dad and his coworker found themselves needing to take the bus home (due to both of their cars being in the shop) he said how they both had blood shot eyes and smelled of beer. He said he heard some elderly ladies whispering about how they looked and smelled…he said he thought to himself, come on lady, I’m just trying to earn a living here.
It was at an establishment called “The Cave” when the fates collided and my parents met. My Mom, who was a teacher, was out with a girlfriend and they decided to make a final stop at a place where her girlfriend knew a lot of people. Her girlfriend was talking to some friends and left my Mom alone, which is when my Dad came up and asked her to dance. She gave him her number and he called a few weeks later with an offer to go out for dinner and a show at the Sunset Playhouse. There were married on July 3rd, 1965. In the city of Milwaukee there are fireworks on the 3rd, I would tell my parents they were for them in celebration of their anniversary.
I once inquired why he didn’t wear his class ring. He told me that many of the businesses that he called on were family owned where maybe no one had gone to college, he didn’t want them to think he thought he was any better than them. He even added that in my life I would work with all kinds of people and to not judge them based on what they did or where they were from, but on their character as a person. That made a huge impact on me as a child and has helped me tremendously in my professional life.
called “the local color” This was the case in NYC. He and my Mom were staying in Times Square and Dad decided to go have a nightcap. He told me the next day that he went to a bar, I forget the name of it, ordered a drink…then looked around and noticed the bar was filled with Men…only Men. He said he took his time finishing his drink and left.
The other things Dad loved in life were golf (he had his hip replaced because it was hampering his golf game), ping pong, reading, and standing over my Mom’s shoulder to select Netflix movies.
The thing my Dad loved most in life was family and specifically, his grandchildren. In my case it was furry grandkids…Dad would always ask how the puppies were doing (I have dogs)…he was also gracious enough to treat my step-kids as family. My brother and his most fantastic wife, gave my parents 4 grandchildren that my Dad cherished. Most of our recent phone calls would include a story about what my Dad did with one of the grandkids.
I will close with a poem from Robert Burns
Epitaph on my own Friend
An honest man here lies at rest,
As e’er God with His image blest:
The friend of man, the friend of truth;
The friend of age, and guide of youth:
Few hearts like his, with virtue warm’d,
Few heads with knowledge so inform’d:
If there’s another world, he lives in bliss;
If there is none, he made the best of this.