My Dad would have been 100 years old on May 31. He was born in Newcastle, Wyoming. He died on November 4, 2008, Election Day. He was alert up till the end, kept up to date on the news by radio and television since he was blind because of Macular degeneration. He voted in that last election by absentee ballot. He never missed an election, literally, even the one on his last day on earth! That’s the kind of citizen he was. I follow his example, even in those years it seems one has to pinch one’s nose and vote for the lesser of two evils. There have been a few years like that…!
Dad’s in his uniform. He was Chief of Police in this town from a very young age. His shift was 7 AM to 4 PM, but he endured perpetual personnel shortages because of city management. For lack of secretarial help, for example, Dad did the paperwork. All my growing up years, I thought his shift was 6 AM to 6 PM because those were the hours he worked.
Dad was proud to be the first policeman from this town to be sent to the FBI Academy, and he went on to help promote professionalism in Nebraska law enforcement as one of the “founding fathers” of POAN (Police Officers Association of Nebraska). The police academy in Grand Island, Nebraska, is one of the things that came about because of POAN lobbying of the Unicameral. To serve in law enforcement in Nebraska, all candidates are required to train there.
Mom and Dad dated five years before they married on June 12, 1937, and were married 71 years before Dad died. They credited being able to laugh about things as a big part of their success at marriage. Mom also took long walks when things got too much for her. LOL! Building the house was a stressful part of their marriage because it was done after Dad got off work. By then, they had the four young kids, too.
Time caught up with us all. In June of 2004, the City of Alliance honored Mom by naming the new bathhouse at the municipal pool after her. She taught Red Cross swimming lessons for 60 years. Mom, Dad, and I were there. It was the last time Dad was physically able to attend such an event. He may have attended church a few more times, though he frequently had difficulties getting dressed in time.
By the end of August, he had a urinary tract infection that caused him to be hospitalized, and he was unable to return home after that. He spent from the end of August 2004 till he died in the Good Samaritan Care Center on November 8, 2008. Mom joined him there in November 2007 when I was hospitalized with shingles and was unable to care for her. She’d lived with me from November 2004, but shared a room at the care center with him for the last few months of his life. That pleased him!
So, Dad, thank you for the time we shared together. I got to know you best after I grew up and returned from the US Army. I loved you, of course, but in those last years I learned that I also liked you. A lot. I miss talking with you because you helped steer me down the right path more than once. That was your greatest talent, helping young men find that right path!