A Purdue alumni, World War II pilot, civil rights advocate, government watchdog, inventor, photographer, avid tennis player and accomplished figure skater only scratch the surface of my complex father’s personality. My father emulated Henry David Thoreau in “expressing his belief that people should not allow governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences and that people have a duty both to avoid doing injustice directly and to avoid allowing their acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice.” Dad was capable of great thought, immense compassion and conviction to doing the right thing regardless of consequence. As a child, his passion for honesty and commitment to being your own person above all else could be frustrating, but as an adult, I have taken great pride in being the daughter of such an independent thinker and great man.
My father was a champion of human rights. During the civil rights movement he put his convictions on the line. I remember him taking the government to task when a director made unwanted advances to one of his employees by filing suit. It was a risky proposition but he prevailed in helping move our laws one small step closer to equality for all citizens.
Dad was mischievous with a twinkle in his blue eyes, capable of mirth at a moment’s notice. Whether on ice skates or roller skates, he took more accomplishment from a graceful fall than a perfect spin. My father worshiped function to the complete oblivion of form. He delighted in Volkswagen’s ability to swap parts so much that we maintained a fleet of VW buses and bugs just so he could tinker with them. We never knew which vehicle we six kids would be piling into. Nor did we know which project would take his fancy next, whether it would be creating an ice skating rink in the side yard, implementing a solar heating system for the pool by running black PVC all over the roof of the house or building a satellite dish to pick up TV signals long before the idea of direct TV was on the horizon.
I miss father’s wisdom and his innate sense of fairness. If you are fortunate enough to be able to celebrate this Father’s Day with yours…make it the best one ever. – Billie
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