Thanks Dad From Ryan

Next Page

I know I’m biased, but he truly was an extraordinary man, and is my constant role model for how to live a decent life. Consider this: In 3rd grade, I moved to a new school district after he, at age 46, had finished a military and business career and decided to be a high school physics teacher. When he heard that I was being picked on for being the new kid, he planned and got approval an assembly on the basics of physics that would make me look cool. Just think about that — not only did a guy who had been in a school district for a couple months get approval to launch his own school-wide assembly, his plan was to teach physics to 3rd-5th graders in ways that would make them think it was really exciting and cool, and it worked. He got his entire high school class to come in and act out different roles and skits, showing that they were also excited about physics, at least when it was in his hands.
He was brilliant. He was the kind of person who could read a series of books on home repair, and then help build a house from scratch. I can’t even pitch a proper tent. The angriest I ever saw him was the day of the Challenger explosion. I was home from school, and we were watching it together when it exploded. He had been nervous all morning because of the cold weather in Cape Canaveral, and as soon as the fact of the explosion sunk in he was yelling “It was TOO COLD! How could they do that?!?” Things that came to light only hours and days later — frozen o-rings, jargon the general public had never heard, were things that he guessed immediately. With years of experience as an Air Force instructor, he knew all about launch factors.
But the most shocking thing about that day, given how important it was, is how fuzzy my memory is of it. Was I home from school sick? I can’t remember. What were his exact words? I can’t remember. I remember the couch, and the TV, and how the importance of it all sunk in from his emotions, but after so many years I have nothing but vague impressions. Without photography and video, that’s all I’d be left with. And without photography that captured the way he acted, the way he moved through the world and cared for people, all I’d remember is what he looked like when he was looking at a camera, not who he was.


The Tractor Story in My Dad's Own Words (Video Clip)

This is an amazing bit of footage where dad explains what happened to him as a child. He had a terrible tractor accident, but I'll let him tell it...
Please be patient with the clip as it takes a while to upload.

The Tractor Story

For those of you that cannot read .m4v files, you may need to download Quicktime. If do not have an apple computer this might be the case. It is free to download and will view the video.

Quicktime for Windows

My Memories Today

Memories are funny things. They fade, they change and as you gain perspective of the world they can deepen all of a sudden. What may have not made sense to me as a child, I can now appreciate with new eyes.

How to describe my dad? Soft hearted, hard headed, goofy, child like, loved being a dad, loved to play games and wrestle, loved to build things with his own hands, loved learning, loved history, loved me.

Some of his favorite music was Johnny Cash (we sang
DO LORD constantly when we were in the car) He also loved the Carpenters, John Denver, Carol King, Bill Haley and the Comets. He loved to dance to Bill Haley and the comets. He had a funny dance he would do. It looked like he was rolling dice in both hands while kicking a soccer ball with each foot simultaneously.

He always greeted people by saying,
"Howdy!" But I think that is because he loved John Wayne.

He was tall with a deep voice that could scare you when he yelled. But I was very rarely scared of my dad. I knew he would never really hurt me. Even when he spanked me he always said he was "Sorry I had to do that. It hurt my hand more than it hurt you." I always appreciated that because we deserved spanking often.

He was very smart. He seemed to know EVERYTHING. Anytime I had a school assignment and he was able to help, I would get a lesson on how to do it a way the teacher is not telling us about. This was primarily in Math as he seemed to love it.

My dad loved his church. We belonged to a small, Baptist church on Oak St. in
Plattsburgh, NY. I loved that church too. I was baptized there and we memorialized my dad there.

He was a liberal even though he was a lifetime, military man. He didn't like the Vietnam War, but he fought in it. My stepmother told me last night that he was sending "real death counts" to his congressman while he was over there. That was news to me.

I don't talk about my dad very often because even now as I write this tears are rolling down my face. It has been 24 years since his death and it can come up that quickly. Grief is something you never get over you just learn to live with it.

Next Page