Many girls growing up find that their first hero is their father. My father remained my hero throughout his life and even after his death.
He was born into poverty in a small town in Tennessee in 1918. His parents were Cherokee and had come from Oklahoma when they were children. My father had two younger brothers and a sister. His father disappeared by the time he was six years old. At that point his mother told him to take his brothers and sister and find a way to survive. He took care of his siblings by working on farms and they would sleep in barns. He never went to school because all he did was work. He was not above any work. When he became a teenager and he was able to purchase a small amount of land and start his own farm.
He enlisted in the army at the start of World War II and discovered there was a whole world outside of Tennessee. He was stationed in the South Pacific and he fought many different battles against the Japanese. The last battle killed his entire platoon and critically wounded him. He played dead until the next platoon came in and rescued him. They did not think he would live six months because of his injuries. He left the army with a Purple Heart and as a sergeant. He then returned to Tennessee. The army had given him a thirst for the world as well as providing him the education to read. He was offered training and started learning engineering.
He began dating my mother and they married in 1950. He was offered a position working in aerospace manufacturing in Chicago and together they left and within a year I was born. My father’s legal name was Bill. People often thought his name was William and he would answer, “I am just plain Bill.” I was named after him as I was his only child.
My father’s intelligence landed him a top position in Los Angeles California manufacturing aerospace bolts. My parents relocated. He became a master in the field of aerospace fasteners. He worked two jobs a day knowing he would be his own boss someday. Work kept him away a lot when I was growing up, but I always felt his strength and knew that I could turn to him for anything. He opened his own business manufacturing aerospace bolts in 1960. At the age of nine I begin to understand the value of work operating drill presses and lathes.
His business grew year after year because of his determination and intelligence.
My father very rarely spoke to anyone. When he did talk it was always profound. We would have conversations as I was the only person he truly trusted. I always felt so special during our time alone together. I knew he was a great man and took to heart what he would say to me.
My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1982 and everyday things became more and more difficult for him to do. In 1987 my mother passed away suddenly devastating my father. He told me that he did not feel the same after she died and it was hard for me to see him start going down physically and mentally. He still was my hero. By then I was crippled and bedridden and unable to help him. My father passed away December 27, 1994. Click Here to read about my father’s passing into spirit.
Some of my fondest memories of my father are:
- He was the most optimistic person I have ever known.
- Once his business grew and he was successful he continued wearing jeans and work shirts that were always covered in oil and he would go to auctions, banks, and other financial places dressed like that. He said, “If they treat me decent dressed like this that’s the person I want to know.”
- He was so sharp and intelligent that if I did not get something quickly he would say, “I can do it while you’re thinking about it.” And it was the truth it was not a put down.
- He had to fire an employee one day and the employee came back later in the afternoon with a gun and was going to kill one of the employees he did not like. My father talked the man out of killing the other guy and got the gun from him all by talking.
- No matter how tough things got for him he would always say, “I will make it if I have to crawl.” That phrase has kept me going through many difficult times, even when I was truly having to crawl.
There are so many other memories that I have they would fill a book. Perhaps someday I will write a book about the greatest man I knew-My Father.
The only jewelry that I wear is my father’s dog tags from the Army
I look forward to the day that we are reunited in spirit.
Happy Father’s Day to All Fathers Living and in Spirit!