He was a funny little man with a cackle of a laugh. He loved dirty jokes, cheap cigarettes and cheaper beer. He retired from the Army after 20 years, mostly spent in Korea and Japan. He married a little Korean lady, and they bought a farm in north Alabama and raised a daughter. He kept cows, hauling hay in a Honda Civic, of all things. His pets were a couple of Australian cattle dogs that stayed outside, an indoor yap dog that barked whenever he was on the phone, a Siamese cat that could nearly carry on a conversation, and a fat marmalade cat appropriately named Garfield. He was a contractor with Boeing, working in the NASA light gas gun facility, where he taught a wet-behind-the-ears co-op student how to handle M1 gun powder and clean up after a shot.
When some piece of equipment wasn’t behaving, he said, “I know why it’s not working.” Of course, I fell for it. “Why?” “Because it’s broke!”
We stayed in touch after Boeing laid him off. He played surrogate grandpa to my kids when we went blueberry picking near his farm. His wife passed away last year, and the last time I saw him, it seemed like all the years and especially the cigs had caught up to him. The last time I talked to him, we made plans for me to bring some Kentucky Fried Chicken to the nursing home, and we’d catch up. I’m sorry we didn’t have a chance to do that.
Rest in peace, my friend.