A couple of people suggested that I blog about my late father, Edward Arthur Roberts (1930–2008). But how can one summarize a life in a short blog entry? I decided to do the Seven Facts Meme again (I cheated—there are eight facts below), this time about him.
1. Abraham Lincoln was Dad's hero, and I think Dad would have been pleased that he died on Lincoln's 199th birthday. Dad read every book he could find on Lincoln and visited the Lincoln birthplace and other historical sites linked to Lincoln. He also visited every major Civil War battlefield and many of the minor sites.
2. Dad met my mother in second grade. They lived around the corner from each other. However, they did not start dating until after high school. Dad’s father (a minister) married them in Mom’s parents’ living room (below left), and they were married for 48 years before my mother died in 2000.
3. In his youth, Dad traveled from Ohio to California and back by hitchhiking and riding the rails. When he got home, the only money left in his pocket was a nickel and a penny, which we still have today in one of his scrapbooks.
4. Dad ran track in high school and won many ribbons. He later transferred his sports allegiance to the Ohio State University football team and converted his second wife, Eila, into a scarlet-and-grey–wearing Buckeyes fan. Even Eila’s miniature poodle, Cricket, had a Buckeye tee-shirt.
Dad was thrilled to be photographed with Brutus the Buckeye mascot when Ohio State played in the Sugar Bowl and displayed the picture (below at right) prominently.
5. Dad had determination, an independent spirit, a strong sense of honor, and a low threshold for being told what to do. After dropping out of college, he worked as a reporter for the Dayton Daily News briefly, but then became a cab driver. He thought driving a cab was a wonderful job because he was his own boss, but Mom thought it too dangerous and Grandpa thought it unsuitable for a minister’s son.
Dad switched to selling insurance and did that for more than forty years, winning many awards. He loved being self-employed and got up each morning eager to go to work. (That caused me a rude awakening when I got my first job: I quickly discovered that if you’re not self-employed, going to work is something you dread.) He impressed his business ethics on all of us kids: Work hard, tell the truth, deal honestly with your clients and suppliers, be loyal, and keep your promises. These principles have served me well in running my own business.
After he retired, Dad wanted to do volunteer work but did not want a boss hovering over him, so he took courier positions, driving mail and supplies around for various organizations.
6. When he was drafted into the Army, Dad was appointed Company Clerk because he was the only one in his unit who knew how to type. He was not cut out for Army life, with its arbitrary and illogical rules and regulations and orders—and had two court martials* to prove it. Despite those experiences, he was proud to have served his country and was patriotic to the point of refusing to buy a foreign car.
(*28 February 2008. One of my brothers suggested that I explain the court martials so that you do not get a low opinion of our dad. In one case, he reported his commanding officer for frequently being drunk on duty. The other men did not back his story up at first, probably for fear of reprisals, and Dad was court martialed. Later, his fellow soldiers confirmed his story and the CO was punished. In the other case, Dad got in trouble for being AWOL; we kids each have a different memory of why he needed to be off base without permission, and I will post an answer when we put the facts together.)
7. While stationed in Germany, Dad took up photography as a hobby. He told me that all the other soldiers went out drinking or chasing girls. He didn’t drink, so he wasn’t interested in bars. He was married, so he couldn’t chase girls. To fill his time, he started taking pictures. From that point on, he documented his family and the places they visited, filling a tall pile of slide boxes and more than 40 photo albums by his death.
8. Dad was known for his sense of humor and ready laugh. Over and over again, at the viewing, at the funeral, and in sympathy cards, people told me how he brightened their day with his jokes and smiles.
I invite others to continue this meme. I would love to read about your own lost loved ones and what made them special.
Dad and his wife, Eila, surrounded by his seven grandchildren