My Uncle Don passed away recently, at the age of 92. Took a nap and never woke up. He had dementia, but physically was still strong as an ox. He even took a open-air plane ride less than a year ago.
If you read his obituary, you get a glimpse of what an amazing guy he was:
- married for more than 60 years
- father of 5
- grandfather of 11
- great-grandfather of 4
- WWII veteran – Lieutenant pilot in the Army Air Force, flying missions aboard C-46 and C-54s while stationed in the South Pacific, Karachi and in the China-Burma-India theater
- Senior class president at Syracuse University, student council chairman, president of Pi Mu Epsilon, the mathematics honor society, and vice-president of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society
- 37-year career with Exxon Chemical
- founding member of a Catholic church in Houston, and a religious education teacher
- Saxophone player and tennis player
- Animal lover
But that just scratches the surface. After my mother died at age 33 and my dad moved the family (4 kids under age 10) from Jersey City, New Jersey to the sticks of Arkansas, we spent several childhood summers living with my uncle and aunt in Houston. We didn’t think anything of it at the time, but in hindsight it was such an amazing sacrifice for Uncle Don – who had 5 kids of his own, mind you – to take on another brood of 4 from his wife’s brother for three months of every year. And he did so much more than provide room and board… it was in Houston under his tutelage that my siblings and I learned how to swim, and ride bikes. He took us to Astros games, to amusement parks, to ice cream parlors, and loved us as if we were his own kids. It gave us a sense of normalcy in a childhood that was otherwise anything but normal. And for that we’ll forever be grateful.
Rest in peace, Uncle Don.