He was born in small-town Massachusetts, one of eight (actually, nine, if you count cousin Al, which we do -- Al was eventually adopted by my grandfather). His father was a truck farmer among other things. (My grandfather at one time also was responsible for the local cemetery, one that began when a Revolutionary War soldier spent a night with some locals home when returning home. Turns out the soldier had smallpox... My grandfather was clearing out land for a new portion of the cemetery when he accidentally upturned the unmarked grave of an infant. He sank to the ground and held the child's bones and cried unashamedly -- one of the few stories my father would tell about his father and goes a long way to explaining both men.)
My father was popular in school and was captain of the football team his senior year. The team had a losing season and there is a story (that my father never confirmed) that during one game he managed to kick the ball and his right shoe well down the field. There's also the story (unconfirmed by my father, but confirmed by others) about the Halloween when he went outhouse tipping, not realizing the outhouse was occupied.
He was a hard worker, first as a farmer, then as a building contractor. He had a reputation for honesty, integrity, and quality work. He was active and respected in the community, belonging to a number of organizations and was a proud Freemason. He believed in helping people quietly, not wanting credit. He was loyal to his family and friends, taking a special interest in kids. He had a common-sense approach to life. He loved people of all types and enjoyed watching the wide variety that passed him by. He was described as a great, big, friendly bear of a man. Everybody loved him. He died as the result of an accident, less than a month from his 65th birthday.
He was very proud of his children, although he must have wondered how an old Yankee Republican sired such liberal kids. Actually, it was his love and respect for others that became the core of my social conscience and, although many find it hard to believe, I consider myself a conservative in the original sense of the word (conserve what works and change what doesn't). My father's political views, I suspect, would have a difficult time with the politics of 2016. (He got a kick out of the year he voted for a Democrat for the first and only time in his life while Kitty voted for a Republican for the first and only time in her life -- it was the Massachusetts governor's race: Ed King, an ultra-conservative Democrat, vs. Frank Sargent, a liberal Republican.)
If I take an unflinching look at myself, all the good parts are a reflection of my father. And, if I take an unflinching look at myself, there are not that many bad parts. I owe him a lot.
I wish he could have seen my children grow up. I wish he had lived to see my brother's girls. I wish he could have seen my sister's children grow up. I wish he had seen my grandchildren.
If any of these people look at myself or my brother or my late sister, I'm sure they will see some shining reflections of my father.