December 27, 1925 – February 24, 2018
I come here today, under the leave of Susan, Whitney, Chris, and the rest, not just to bury my father, but to praise him also. For this was a man who truly was a piece of work and a man much worthy of praise. He lived a long life and a life that was exciting and prosperous. It was not easy to see someone who loomed so large decline so far. For Dad lived for years with the debilitating effects of a stroke, and overtime he became weaker and weaker. This is what makes calamity of such long life. But, always he had the spark of life and he raged against the dying of the light. He had an iron will and indomitable spirit. For this man was a warrior. A warrior and a teacher.
He grew up poor on a hard scrabble farm in central Kentucky. He was a Kentucky boy who later became a Kentucky Colonel. He walked behind two mules plowing the fields in preparation for the planting of tobacco which he did by hand by pushing a stick into the ground followed by a seedling, which had been transplanted from the tobacco beds, into the hole. It was a rough row to hoe. But this work prepared him for the rough roads that lay ahead.
First came the Korean War. He went off to war as a young man and distinguished himself in battle. He had long career as an officer in the United States Navy. He retired Lt. Commander and began a second career teaching at the University of Louisville Speed Scientific School.
He married early and raised four kids. I was first born and I am the oldest. I remember many valuable lessons learned at my father’s side. Stand up straight he would say. Don’t drag your feet he would say. Those skinny jeans make you look like Ichabod Crane he would say. Needless to say, I grew a little self -conscious about my appearance but this self- consciousness soon turned to pride, and I learned how important it was to make a good first impression, and to take pride in one’s appearance.
Dad and I worked side by side building a fence together one time in our back yard in the suburban neighborhood of Poplar Halls, in the City of Norfolk, Virginia. We had many fine conversations while digging post holes and erecting that fence. He told me that I liked to make a federal case about everything and that I might make a good lawyer someday. He said that if I put half as much energy into working within the system as I did in trying to get around it I would get a lot more done. Of course, I didn’t listen, because I am just about as stubborn as he was.
We built a horse barn together one year here in Louisville at the Naval Ordinance Plant to house our Morgan mare he had acquired for the family. Of course, it fell upon me the responsibility of taking care of Belle Star. I didn’t mind though, because I loved to ride and I was always hell bent for leather.
I learned the fine art of carpentry from dad that summer and the importance of careful measurements. Measure twice and cut once he would say. Also, I learned that if you put your mind to it, you could do just about anything. Dad and I didn’t always see eye to eye on everything but I suspect that was because we were so much alike. We both were a little in love with long distance. And time is the longest distance between two places.
This is a man took up arms against a sea of Chinese. And by opposing them he helped to end the war and bring peace to the Korean peninsula. A peace, that as we stand here today, is threatened and endangered. He was a blockade officer during the Cuban Missile crisis. He was a cold warrior and a hot warrior.
Dad’s sense of honor was one thing that never grew old. And his last pleasure even, in his old age, was not money, although that helped, but rather having the respect of one’s friends, family, and countrymen. No one can blame this man. He did his duty and he lived his life with courage. Happiness depends on being free and freedom depends on being courageous. And this was a courageous man. Not only will the inspiration on his gravestone mark him out, but here in our hearts his memory will live on forever. Birth, old age, sickness, and death occur in the life of all persons. But dad will live on in the flesh of his children, his grandchildren, and his great grandchildren. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
He has ended the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to. Now he sleeps. And in that sleep of death, what dreams may come? Puzzles the will. He has crossed over to that undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage.
Now, let four captains carry him off like the true soldier that he was and play for him the soldiers’ music and the rites of war. And I will do for him what he did for me when I was a small boy and bear him up upon my shoulder.