Some people have asked me to post what I said at Dad's funeral. I know that I added a little while I was speaking, but in general, this is the script.
Dad was born on June 3, 1919 on the same piece of land he lived on for the rest of his life.
He was slightly younger than Prohibition and slightly older than women’s right to vote.
He met my mother while they were both in grade school. She said that she knew when she was six years old that she would spend her life with him. They got 93 more years together.
He learned to drive in a Model T when he was twelve years old. He was still driving as of this past Christmas. I can’t prove it, but I believe this means that he drove for a longer period of time than anyone else who ever lived.
He worked on the family farm and helped build many local roads.
In the late 1930s and early 1940s he played guitar and mandolin in his Uncle Clark’s band, which he told me were called the Phillips Family Band, and sometimes The Back Porch Boys. They played local dances and competitions where he met country western stars such as Big Slim the Lonesome Cowboy, and a very young Grandpa Jones. I found this out just last year. We watched Hee Haw together every week when I was a kid. You would think at some point he would have said, ‟Hey, I know that guy.” Twice they won competitions that allowed them to play on the main stage of the Wheeling Jamboree.
He played baseball for a number of local teams, primarily Nineveh, where once, in a single game, he hit a single, a double, a triple, and a home run. He remained a Pirates fan until the end.
In the 1940s he joined the US Military. While stationed in California he was awarded the job of driver for Lieutenant Milton Borcherding, who he served with for the duration of the War. He landed on Omaha Beach, drove a Jeep across Europe, helped hold the line at Saint Vith at the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge, drove across the bridge at Remagen, and smoked cigars with some Russian boys at the Baltic Sea north of Berlin in the last days of the War.
He was a great ‟dog man.” This doesn’t mean he was a werewolf. Let me explain... He raced Field Trial dogs. He bought King, his first one, from his father-in-law, Arnie Hamilton, and continued to race dogs until the 1990s, winning much more often than he lost. The house had more trophies than would fit.
He worked as a truck driver for T.G. Walker, then as a plant operator for Benwood Limestone Company. He retired in the mid 1980s.
He had a long life, of remarkably good health. He worked. He lived through danger and adventure. He had hobbies he loved. He had multiple friendships and a close relationship with his family. He had a lifelong, loving relationship with Alberta. He passed away in his sleep on the same piece of land he was born on.
We should all have such a good life.
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