Celebrating a First Birthday . . . sort of

Dad would have been 85 today. He’d have laughed and said something about not believing he was 85. He never felt, or acted, his age – whatever ‘act your age’ ever means. He was goofy, fun-loving, and quick to giggle.  This is a picture of Dad on his 80th, with this name misspelled on his cake. This was always a source of laughter because of misspellings and mispronunciations. It’s B-Y-R-D-E-L-L (bur-dell).
If anyone mentioned Euchre, Dad would slap his hands together say, ‘Let’s play!’ and the cards would fly around the table. I learned my numbers playing cards with him. When Grandma died, Dad slipped a new deck of Hoyle’s into her casket.

Dad was one of those blue-collar, never complain, never miss a day of work, tote a black metal lunchbox, provide for your family kind of man. He was a tool and die maker, a trade he was proud of, proud he worked for the same company for over 30 years.



He was a sportsman. He played baseball as a kid, basketball in high school, slow-pitch and fast pitch after high school, bowled and golfed as an adult.

He liked watching just as much. A highlight of my trips back home each summer was going out to East Park to watch softball together. He loved his Detroit Tigers and made an annual trip to Michigan with my sister Trudy. He and my cousin Dan would often watch games together – a challenge since Dad was in Galion and Dan was in Springfield! But they’d be on the phone, each watching in their own home, yet watching together. Dan took this picture when the two of them visited Galion Country Club a year before Dad died. They didn’t play, just drove around in the cart and made memories. Dad was a favorite uncle to so many cousins, and so much more – a husband for over 40 years, Dad to my sisters, Lynda and Trudy, and me, a grandpa and great-grandpa.



Dad was a man of deep faith. My sisters and I learned much about humility, self-sacrifice, forgiveness, compassion, unconditional love, and prayer just by being around him.

Yesterday we honored our military and Dad would have been right there along Harding Way East watching the parade. One of my first memories is of sitting on his shoulders watching the bands march by during a Memorial Day parade. Dad was often one of only a few who attended the Veterans’ Day observance in Heise Park each year. While he down-played his own service, honoring the service of others was important. Though he did think driving his tank in Korea was pretty fun. Today Lynda,Trudy and I celebrate this first birthday without him. We three were together over the weekend and it was bittersweet – as these times always are. Tonight in honor of all he was and all he continues to teach us, I’ll raise a refreshing highball, gobble some Ballreich’s Potato Chips, and savor a slice of his favorite elderberry pie. 

Oh! Another early memory is of sitting on Dad’s lap – and eventually right next to him, elbows touching – showing me middle ‘c’ on the piano and how to play Heart and Soul. Always a duet.


Happy Birthday Dad – we love you Heart and Soul.

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