Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Bobby

Dad was born in Denver Colorado in 1945. His father, an upholsterer by trade, had not served during World War Two because of a childhood injury that had left his arm bent. Dad's mother was a sales clerk at a yarn store in town.

Bobby, as Dad was called in his youth, was full of the dickens from a very early age. A tinkerer by nature, he would disassemble and reassemble every appliance in the house multiple times. He rigged his bedroom light to extinguish anytime someone laid on the bed, and he stock piled cables, cords, wires, circuit boards, and anything else he deemed interesting, stacking them in his closet so compactly his mother gave up trying to clean his room and left it a disaster.

At one point he had rigged an electric megaphone onto the front of his house and would heckle the neighbors and any cars that drove by - until the cops showed up at the front door asking him to stop. On several occasions, he hacked into the street's telephone wires and listened into the "Party Line" until a representative from the phone company came to their door.

Bobby was also a musician. He took accordion and piano lessons and was a natural performer. An extrovert at heart, Bobby loved to make people laugh. His favorite accordion song was "Lady of Spain" which involved him shaking the entire instrument against his chest in dramatic flair, all to give the illusion of vibrato.

At eighteen years old, Bobby (now Bob) was accepted into the electrical engineering program at the Colorado School of Mines, but as fate would have it, destiny had other plans.

Following a severe car accident, Bob was left with two broken legs, among other injuries, and his knees, which were already malformed and uncooperative, were now broken and bolted together with screws. Months of physical therapy and surgeries followed, and strapped by medical bills and lost hopes, Bob never attended the School of Mines, but instead, accepted a job demonstrating and selling electric organs at a local music store - putting to use his showmanship and charm.

At nineteen years old, a mutual friend introduced him to girl, a shy violinist who saw the moon and the stars in his gregarious charms, and Bob went home after the first date and told his mother he'd met the girl he was going to marry - and he was right.

Three months later, both a twenty years old, Bob married Donna. Donna was a book keeper at their neighborhood church, and an accomplished violinist who eventually taught lessons at the local music store.

They moved into a small apartment in Denver, where eventually Bob landed a job with NCR, repairing electric cash registers. After three years of marriage their first child was born, a daughter, Wendy.

More children followed. A boy, Allan, and two more daughters, Lorianne and Erin.

After repairing cash registers for several years, Bob moved the family to Ohio, where he taught classes for NCR technicians. He then accepted various positions in the technology profession, moving the family to Illinois, Pennsylvania, and California - each place bringing him further along the professional chain until he was head of customer service at an accounting software company.

When Bob retired, he and Donna moved to Washington State.

Ever true to himself, Bob remained a tinkerer his whole life. His houses were always equipped with a secret garage door opener so his kids could come and go throughout the day without assistance or keys. He rigged his mailbox with a motion-censored chime which rang indoors when the mail arrived. All his yard sprinkler systems were mechanized and timed. He was ready to accept any phone call from any of his grown kids, and friends, should they need advice on how to fix something.

He was quick with a joke, fast with a bottle of Scotch, and always willing to lend a helping hand, even when it was a detriment to himself.

He devoted hours of free time in service to his church. In his lifetime he'd served on almost every committee in the Presbyterian Church. From Finance, Property and Maintenance, Sunday School, fundraisers, plays, Session, Pastoral nominating committees - you name it, Bob served on it.

At his last church in Washington State, Bob served as Chairman in charge of the church's RV park and campground - fixing every leaky faucet, burnt and broken light fixture - to spearheading the permits and supervising the construction of a pavilion for the picnic area. It was his dream job, quite honestly.

At the end of August, 2015, at 70 years old, Bob was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer and passed away four weeks later, surrounded by his family.

I know somewhere out in the ether Dad's sitting at a campfire, drinking Scotch, and cracking jokes.

I was lucky to have him as my father.
He'll be missed.