Wednesday, June 25, 2008


My father passed away earlier this morning. Eighty five years old. Suffering with dementia for the past couple years. Living in a nursing home where his dedicated wife visited him every morning.
In 1943, two months after graduating from the UofM with a BA in Mechanical Engineering, Dad left for his midshipman training at The U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. Within a month of completion, he married my mother and both left for Penn State Univ. for Diesel training, then Solomons, MD, for amphibious training. He hitched a ride via submarine to Texas where Mom met him. Shortly after, his LCI(L) landing craft launched from Galveston for the Pacific where Dad served as the engineering officer for three years in WWII. After his tour of duty, Dad and Mom lived in Annapolis where I was born. Dad worked at the USN Engineering Experimental Station until his mother took ill in 1950. Pregnant with my sister, the family returned home to Minnesota. Honeywell, Inc. hired Dad in their aeronautical division where he worked on fuel management systems used on the KC-135 jet tanker and helped to adapt the gyroscope for guidance systems in aircraft. His last proposal before retirement as a project engineer was for ring laser gyro guidance systems in air and space craft.

Dad and Mom raised three healthy, happy "meat-heads" and a series of dogs. They attended PTA. Every year Dad brought a strobe light from work to make the Haunted House at the grade school carnival a great success. He swam with us in the summer time at Little Boy Lake and built us a raft for diving. Swimming remained a favorite of his as he still competed in a senior division just a few years ago. Dad enjoyed hunting and fishing. Once he took me with him to "catch the big one". And there it was looking up at Dad after following the bait up to the boat. An instant later, it was out of sight. Awesome.
He and Mom square danced at the summertime neighborhood block parties. He loved music and could whistle many big band tunes. Perry Como, Andy Williams, and later Yanni were favorites. He didn't play a musical instrument himself but encouraged each of us to learn to play. He cleared the snow off our ice skating pond and tested the ice each season. The first time I ever cooked supper was with Dad when Mom was in the hospital. Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. The sandwiches burned, the soup boiled over but Dad made it all OK.
Family vacations always brought us further out of the city. Itasca, Black Hills, Yellowstone, Glacier, Badlands, North Shore, International Falls, and camping with friends. Camping at Devil's Hole is the vacation I'll never forget and never repeat. A couple of his hobbies lasted all his life...birdwatching and model airplanes. Dad loved birds. He attracted pheasants, chickadees, red headed woodpeckers, purple finches, bluebirds and an occasional black bear!
He guided, he counseled, he encouraged, he loved. I miss him.

1 comment:

Chile said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Susan. When parents go, it leaves such a hole in our lives. Treasure the memories of time together.