My dad was a mighty man of God who had clearly defined priorities and opinions. He loved God. He loved my Mom. He loved his family and friends and he loved this country.
He came to know Christ personally when he was a young man with a young family. Growing up we knew where my dad stood. I do not remember a lot of conversations about God, but he set quite an example of growth through Bible study, relationships with other Christian men, and through service in the local church.
Retirement from the public sector just meant more opportunity for ministry to my dad. He often said he was busier in retirement than when he worked a full-time job.
He was not an idle man. In fact, he was always in motion. Even if he was sitting in a chair reading one of his Westerns his foot would usually be moving. If he saw something that needed done, he did it. If he saw a friend or a neighbor in need, he helped them. If the need was too great for him to do alone, he organized a group.
Next to God, our mom was definitely the most important person in his life. I cannot tell you the example this set or the security this gave my brother and I. They would have been married 56 years this May. Some of my oldest memories include witnessing the open affection displayed between my parents. They laughed together, a lot, and teased each other and just enjoyed each other’s company. My dad demanded that we respect our mom and treat her with every courtesy. We knew he would accept no less.
The four of us – my dad, my mom, Jeff and I - have always been a small but mighty family unit. Dad made sure to tell us he loved us every day. He was an encouraging and proud father who expected us to do our best. Teaching us to be self-sufficient was also important to my dad. One of the slides showed mom, Jeff and I being victorious because he taught us how to change a tire, check our oil and refill the windshield wiper fluid.
He was also a man with a tender side who was not ashamed to show his emotions. I was his “punkin” and the morning I got married is an example of this. He had gotten up early and went out to his office to type up the prayer that he would give at our wedding brunch. I awoke to find him sitting at the end of my bed, watching me sleep with tears on his face.
Dad welcomed my husband David to the family and not just because he gave him his only grandchildren Emilie and Abigail. I have always enjoyed watching my husband and my dad interact. They respected each other, worked well together and shared similar values.
As a grandpa my dad was pure putty from the moment he held his first granddaughter. There were few boundaries where my girls were concerned. He even allowed them to dress him up and fill his hair with endless barrettes when they were younger – we have photographic proof. They loved to visit my parents in Tingley. Grandpa was great at finding fun things to do – pick up rides in the country, running on hay bales, going fishing, riding in the wagon behind the lawnmower, swinging in the tire swing.
My dad was a man who connected people, who thrived on lasting friendships, who was willing to invest in and encourage other people until the end. Even as he lay dying he would ask a nurse if she was a “praying person.” Or thank the person who did the ultrasound. Or find a weary smile for the person who cleaned his room in the ICU each day.
I had just graduated from high school when my dad had his first heart attack in 1986. He was to suffer many health issues and many health setbacks over the decades leading up to this final battle. In the end he was just ready to finally to go Home. And I know beyond a doubt that he heard God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”