My Dad would be 95 years old were he alive today. Sadly he died when he was 61 years old. So very young, way too young with the potential of many years still left unlived. He was taken from this life due to an embolism in his lung after his second heart attack.
My Dad died when I was 30, I really miss him. It is hard to imagine that I have spent more than half my life with him gone. It's funny though that when someone impacts you like a parent does...they are never far away.
My Dad grew up in North Dakota and he was a great guy. His Father passed away before my Dad became a teenager and that placed some huge hardships upon my Grandmother to raise her two children. Consequently, my Dad spent a lot of time away from his Mom and sister while growing up. Another family, the Vanorneys (God bless them), took him in so that he could continue his schooling while my Grandmother sold all the farm equipment and moved from Ashley to Bismarck to go to school. She eventually became a court reporter and then was able to survive. My Dad had a college degree which was rare in those days, from the University of North Dakota in accounting.
He worked endless hours to make it happen with no financial support from his Mom, as she was barely making it herself. He was very athletic and handsome and would get the most gorgeous golden tans in the summers. He was super smart and had a great sense of humor. Here is a photo of Dad at 19. Isn't he a cutie? Had he been LDS he would have been ready to go on a mission about this time.
My Dad was a gentle and quiet man. He didn't talk your ear off, but when he spoke he had something important to say and people listened. He got a position with the Firestone Tire Company in Minnesota after he graduated from college. My Mom had just moved there from South Dakota to go to beauty school and that is how they happened to meet in 1939 or 40. I think they were the cutest couple. Here they are on one of their dates before they got married.
My Dad was a great father. Sometimes I wish he would have offered more direction, but his parenting style was more like ~ train up a child and then let them try their wings. He always trusted me and supported my decisions. My Dad was just such a kind person. People that worked for him would always tell me what a gentleman he was and that he was the best and kindest boss they had ever had. He was always so even-tempered and kind at home too. I think I can only remember him ever being really mad at me two times in my whole life and both times I deserved it! When he got annoyed about things he would grind the gear shift in the car and that was about it.
The best part of our relationship was when he became a Grandpa and that is when I really saw him open up and adore our kids! He had a great smile and laugh and I can remember seeing more of both during those times. He was the first Grandfather in our town to work in a classroom as a volunteer when Jen was in kindergarten. He called Christopher his Little Buddy and spent lots of hours over here playing with the kids. Sadly he had only a few months with Laura before he was taken home.