Friday, July 23, 2010

A Tribute to My Late Father: Richard C. Drew, Sr. (1926 - 2010)

My father passed away this week and I thought it would be appropriate to share some comments that would be comforting for my father’s siblings, his wife, his children and his grandchildren and – perhaps - his great-grandchildren. He is pictured here on the right holding the hand of his younger brother Albert Drew. He died peacefully on July 20, 2010.

1. For His Siblings: He was born in Michigan in 1926. This is the same year welcomed Queen Elizabeth, Andy Griffith and Marilyn Monroe. While my father was in elementary school, he endured the economic disaster of the Great Depression and after high school served in World War II in the U.S. Navy. As I said during his eulogy:
He had two siblings: a sister, Marilyn and a brother, Albert. His family moved
to California in 1933 and his siblings always struck me as contemporary
Californians while Richard was much more of an import product of the Mid-West. I
know he valued their time together as a family…and spoke tenderly about a trip
he made to Redmond, WA in 1985 when they were last all together.

If you want insight into my father’s childhood, I recommend you check out the 1983 movie A Christmas Story. My father identified with the main character, Ralphie, a nine-year old Hammond, Indiana boy whose fervent Christmas wish was to receive "…an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time." (The thing which tells time is a sundial.) Ralphie, of course, continually hears the refrain: “No, you’ll shoot your eye out.”

2. For His Wife: Richard met my mother, May, and they got married in the 1950s. From the photos of their early married life, you can see that they were an ideal 1950s couple. My mother is extraordinarily beautiful and you can tell that being married to her was the best thing that ever happened to him.

3. For His Children: My earliest memories of him include kissing him as he came home from work. I still remember the smell of his after shave…and love and affection he had for me. I remember him, at the height of Cold War, stockpiling materials for a nuclear bomb shelter in the garage including wood frames, army water tanks, military food rations and burlap bags. Because of time constraints, I could not fit this into his eulogy, but I meant to say:
It goes without saying that he loved his job as a CAL-OSHA safety engineer and later as a top manager. When I saw him at work I was introduced to a whole new world of power and authority, a world in which opportunities for devoted public service were supplemented by lunches with his colleagues at Italian restaurants with fresh sawdust on the floor or by visits to cafeterias that looked like movie sets complete with colorful lights, waterfalls and California-themed dioramas.

Politically, he was an ardent anti-communist, a Goldwater supporter, and early Reagan supporter. My father took to Scouting – especially its religious values and code of character - and was remembered for it for many years. He raised money and took us to National Jamboree where we saw Bob Hope perform. He was active at district level and had the number one Boy Scout Camporee Troop in 1976.

4. For His Grandchildren: Later in life, he was a devoted grandfather who loved hosting the grandchildren (seven in all) at his house in Big Bear for the holidays. Remembering how much fun I had as a child playing around the Newhall house, I’m sure it warmed Richard’s heart to see his grandchildren happily running around the same hunting grounds.

5. For His Great Grandchildren: My father’s great grandchildren will undoubtedly learn about him from YouTube videos, blog sites, and genealogy charts - all freely available on the Internet. They will find he represented a proud tradition of American values and patriotism, a tradition extending all the way from the Civil War to the American Revolution.

Nothing was more moving to me, at my father's funeral, than the final moments when a naval officer handed a folded U.S. flag to my mother and said: "This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation as an expression of appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service."

I expect his great grandchildren will see a profound link to our nation’s heritage my father's life and in his love for God, country and family.

There is a special on-line obituary for him at http://bit.ly/9GiO7Z which includes a beautiful photo essay illustrating his life, career, and rich family connections.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

3 comments:

  1. It's a terrible thing to lose your father - my dad died in 1989 and I miss him every single day. Like your father he served in the U.S. Navy. Taps for a good man and a fine patriot!

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  2. May your father rest in everlasting peace and joy with our Lord. May God hold you, and all of Richard's loved ones, in the palm of His hand and grant you comfort and peace.

    My Dad, who was born in 1919 died four years ago, and I'm just starting to really come to terms with it.

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  3. No man stands so tall as one that stoops to be with a child.... Fathers, grand fathers and great grandfathers have their own ways of communicating, even when in silence... Sometimes their voice is louder when they just stand there and not say a word, eyes locked our every move...

    They fill our lives with strength, character, noblility, and with the most blessed with a planting of a Godly perspective and a Godly wisdom that somehow along the way starts taking on a life of its own...

    Always missed, they also give us memories that only they can provide... and can only be fulfilled within the arms of our God... For many, it is in the richness of our memories that they find solice, comfort and terms... For others, there is the wallet, shirts, hats always worn until his time to rest...

    We will find ourselves saying, "And there will always be the moment when he...." and his life continues while his body rests...

    Celebrate his life, miss him, but live it they way he would want you to -- because you already have...

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