Honor thy Mother and Father, the third of God’s Ten Commandments, my father upheld.
These weren’t just words for my dad, they were actions that he lived every day of his life.
As an eight year-old boy, he honored his father at work. He drove a coal truck around the yard where his dad worked. His dad would load the truck with a crane, and dad would drive it around the yard to dump it in the massive bins where it was needed. At eight years old!
There were no automatic trucks in 1942. Everything was a stick. He wore blocks on his feet to reach the pedals. There was no power steering in a truck at that time either. It was a big job for an eight-year-old.
He came up in the Great Depression and lived through the 2nd World War. He and the other boys, my uncles, were responsible for two massive gardens. It took a lot of food to feed a family of 13. My dad had ten siblings. Two died very young. That left eleven people to feed. They (the boys) hunted and fished because they had to. It wasn’t a sport back then, it was a necessity. My dad went to High School in Winona MN, and then he went off to honor his country and fought in the Korean War. He was an Army Ranger, a paratrooper graduate of Fort Benning’s Air Borne School. He served honorably in Korea from 1952 to 1954.
While in Korea, he got news that his father was very ill. He got home in time to bring his father to Christ, and saw the dove of Peace alight on him before he died. The story of how he got back to Winona to save his father is a miracle indeed.
God is real, and he was always a prime motivator in my father’s life. I know that he is in Heaven with my mother now. That brings solace to me. I’m glad he’s there with her. By her side is the only place he ever wanted to be. When we lost mom in March, I knew that dad wouldn’t be too far behind. He was utterly devoted to her.
Fidelity. Faithfulness. My father displayed his fidelity with my mother always. He was always in her corner during her toughest times and was the source of much of her strength.
Honor. Not only did he honor his parents, he honored his wedding vows, and honored a promise to my mom’s dad. He told Ed that he would care for her for all of her life, and that he did.
After Korea, dad went back to school at Winona State. That’s where he met my mom. It was love at first sight that lasted for 63 years. Dad lettered in four sports in College, while working two jobs and going to school, hunting, taking care of his mom and younger brother, and courting my mom. They were married on August 3, 1957. I was born In August of 1958, my brother in September of 1961.
Dad moved to Louisiana in 1963 with his wife and two small boys. He came here to open the first McDonalds in the state. He and two partners. The restaurant was on Veterans Blvd. at Williams, back when Williams Blvd was a gravel road. After the store was in operation for about two years, the partners decided to sell that location and open another Mc Donald’s in town, along with a fried chicken place and a hard ice cream parlor. Popeyes and Baskin Robbins, before there was either.
Unfortunately, Jim Bailey the principal partner, took all of the money from that sale and left for South America, leaving my dad and the other partner high and dry.
Duty. My dad had a family to support. 1,150 miles from home and everything he knew. He had no job, and no prospects for one. But he knew Ed Walker, they had hunted together. He went to work for Ed at Walker-Roemer Dairies driving a milk truck. He did what he had to do in order to support us with no help from anyone in a town where he knew almost no one.
After that, Dad went into sales for several different companies. Each time, he would break sales records for the company in question and they would cut his territory. He was penalized for doing a good job. That was sales in corporate America, in those days.
Eventually he became an operator, who operated huge cranes in the oil refineries. This led him back to sales for the Allied Equipment Company where he became the number one salesman for Bucyrus-Erie heavy equipment, world wide.
He retired at sixty-two because of a back injury and built a house up here in Belle Foret for he and mom. He enjoyed and supported my mothers accomplishments while building her the house of her dreams.
Dad’s life was filled with the joy of his family and friends, hunting, fishing and golf, and his faith in God. He was an active member of the choir at Christ the King Lutheran Church for more than 35 years. He’s singing in Heaven with mom now. Once again, at her side. That’s all he ever wanted.
Rest in peace, dad. We love you.