We gave my Dad a fond farewell yesterday, Monday. 18 chairs were set out, all filled with about 20 people standing, all on less than 24 hours notice.
My Dad served the U.S. Army in high school and college ROTC, as a Sergeant in the Occupation (Heidelberg and Bad Tölz in Germany, (1945)), as a second lieutenant in Korea (1953) and in 1955 he received his first lieutenant commission and an offer to be a General’s aide. By that time my Dad had four children at the age of 27 years so he chose a job as Chief Chemist in Diamond Alkali’s plastics division and stayed with the company through all the restructurings; ending 40 years of service with the lab under the company BF Goodrich.
Due to too short notice to the military, the flag was left folded at Graveside (they need 24 hours notice). My Dad’s grave will bear a military marker. He passed away naturally with no extreme measures and he was not embalmed.
A limousine took all but two of his grandchildren and one great grandchild to the graveside. Candi, DJ Good Grief, Ben, Alexander, Andrew, Isaac and Alice. Kiley rode with her grandmother and Matt was unable to attend having just flown back home after a long visit with his grandfather.
After the 15-minute service in my mom’s faith, Christian Science (My Dad was a Methodist) at his graveside, his daughter, Elise, began the Memories of Our Dad:
“He had abundant travel with his family, in his work and during his service to his country. He cherished people and his relationships with them. He kept a notebook recording all the people he befriended; from Darst Creek, Jeff Davis, Rice University, Fort Knox, Heidelberg, Bad Tolz, DuPont, University of Houston, Fort Lee, Fort Hood, Korea, Diamond Shamrock, B.F. Goodrich, Central and South America, Canada, Yugoslavia and the neighborhoods of Kingsway, Arendale and Woodhorn in Clear Lake, Texas.
Dad has listed all his trips in notebooks marked Trip and Trip II. These were trips that he served as designated driver, historian, genealogist and child trainer (he kept those tips to himself, they are unlisted). Under Trips II he drove to New York City and San Francisco (Berkeley) to visit me. Sarah, Kathy and Mom joined him on the West Coast trip and the East Coast trip was minus Kathy. In 1970 Dad took us all to New Orleans. In 1972 he was in Mexico City, Guatemala, Panama, Caracas, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Lima, Quito, Cali and Miami on business. In 1973 he drove the family to Nashville, Tennessee. Somewhere in between is a business stint for six months in the Canadian Rockies. Ask Sarah and Mom. In 1981 Sarah and Mom joined Dad on another long term assignment in Yugoslavia and then at its end travelled through Europe on the Orient Express.
In these notebooks he tells us he used 500 gallons to drive us to the 1968 San Antonio Hemisfair. In our 1963 trip to Austin, TX he lists Kathy 12, Cliff 11, Elise 10 and Will 7. Sarah was to arrive two years later.
My Dad wrote an 8-page memo regarding his trip to Yugoslavia on May 4, 1982. He describes the sidewalk parking in Yugoslavia, “Usually, it suffices to put two wheels on the sidewalk, although there were many instances of four wheel parking. Consequences of this practice were that the poor pedestrians had to be alert both on and off the street, and the sidewalks developed potholes. We all hoped that on our return to the USA we would be able to break the habit of sidewalk parking.”
My Dad helped animals in distress. He was a great pet owner. He loved to garden and was a faithful green thumb.
He loved his Texas college teams throughout their years of losses. This past week my Dad was able to hear about University of Houston’s first in 24 years; about Rice’s first bowl game in 34 years, first bowl win in 55 years and first 10 game wins in the season in 59 years. I read from Houston Chronicle Richard Justice’s sports column, “Forget everything you thought about football at Rice, here’s to fresh starts.” Dad smiled.
Dad’s sister, Juanita, read her article on her brother, Clifford Junior:
“My name is Juanita, and I am Clifford Junior’s sister. There is a sign on Interstate 10 between Luling and Kingsbury that reads Darst Field. In the 1930’s when we were growing up there it was known as Darst Creek. It was in that oilfield community that my brother and I experienced the most unique and wonderful of childhoods. We both agreed on that.
In those long ago days as we explored the forest behind our home and rode bicycles for miles on end with untrammeled freedom, Junior became my childhood hero. He was adored by his parents, hailed as extra super smart by his teachers, had a large number of admiring friends and there I was, underfoot, joining the crowd who thought he was “The Best.”
I am grateful for having such a brother who was a good example for me in so many ways. I recall that he taught me to play chess and after loss after loss to him, I bitterly complained. “You taught me to play chess, but not how to win.” His reply was, “I taught you how to play, you’ve got to figure out how to win on your own.” I think Mama and Daddy taught Junior how to play the game of life, but he learned to win on his own. From my vantage point, I always saw him as a winner. Goodbye, childhood hero! I’ll see you later. —Nita”
The next person to read was my nephew, Ben, Texas A&M. Ben’s memoriam is on his facebook page soon. Here
“Abraham Lincoln once stated that, “in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count… It’s the life in your years”. This quotation rings as true as church bells in reference to the life of my grandfather. He was a wonderful and intelligent man, a true hero in my life.”
My brother, Cliff, then spoke about my Dad’s pursuit of absolute perfection and how hard it was on the helping hands, him; but in the end, you know what, that was a beautiful fence.
My brother Cliff’s friend spoke about his own father and his wife’s father’s struggle with Parkinsons Disease and the Disease itself. He said be greatful for the time you have here, every moment.
My Dad died in a coma from internal bleeding from a fall and the rapid decline from Parkinsons Disease. His body functions were not able to accept material nourishment or fluids. He had a very strong heart. Outside of Parkinson’s Disease the doctors said he was as strong as a horse. My Dad was given nurses for hospice care until the last 4 days. Medicare would not pay for nurses if there were no critical signs. I tried to move and interfere with him sparingly, only if it was necessary. I would tell my Dad afterwards, sorry Dad we’re really no good at this, we try though, we do our best to spare you pain, to keep you comfortable. He sort of grinned though I know he was in pain. I was the nurse those last few days because I was there. The patient was not demanding, critical; he was an angel, a beautiful reflection of God, patient and a soldier through all this. He passed away in peace. God Bless Dad. I am left whole, I am at peace.