Dad was born in 1952 in Harrisburg Hospital. He grew up in Camp Hill, going to Cedar Cliff and playing little league baseball for Lower Allen. He married Mom in ’72, and they eventually settled in the house in Shiremanstown, where they would spend most of their 39 year marriage, raising us three kids and waging the occasional battle royale over who did or did not refill the ice cube trays.
He always had a job, and we always had a roof over our heads and food on the table. After sixteen years at the old Holiday West, Dad went to work for the Mechanicsburg School District in 1987. He worked as a custodian and a painter until his retirement last November, when he we received his twenty-five year pin, which he was very proud of.
Dad lived his entire life here in Central PA, only leaving the state once to see a baseball game in Baltimore when he was a kid. He enjoyed the simple things in life, like a morning out at the creek fishing, a weekend-long John Wayne marathon, or tickle-attacking Riley. He rooted for the Phillies in the summer and the Steelers in the winter, and spent years cheering Ricky Rudd through every Nascar race.
He was a man of many habits, like the hat on his head, the cigarette or toothpick in his mouth, and the truck radio set permanently to the oldies station. You could always hear Dad coming around the corner from the jingling keys on his belt or the clink of his Zippo lighter. You knew any t-shirt you bought him would have the neck and sleeves cut off, that the case of Milwaukee’s Best in the fridge wouldn’t last the weekend, and that none of the lottery tickets he gave you would ever win as much as the ones you gave him in return.
My strongest childhood memories of Dad are in the summertime, throwing horseshoes with my Grandpa, camping up at Raymond B. Winters, or grilling out in our backyard. The Saturday afternoons when he would come home green up to his knees from cutting grass for beer money, and the Sunday evenings when we would all eat ice cream and watch The Simpsons. The family bingo games, which would last for hours as we pleaded with Dad to please put down the beer and call another number, and of course the hundreds of nights spent repeatedly viewing movies like The Great Outdoors and Flight of the Navigator, which he would promptly fall asleep half an hour into.
As an adult on my own, Dad was still there to help, showing me how to change my first flat tire, loading and unloading my stuff from the back of the truck as I moved from one apartment to the next, and not making fun of me too much the time I thought my car broke down but had actually just run out of gas. He would often call me on the weekends just to see if I was alright and check if I needed anything, and to make sure I’d be over for Sunday dinner.
I would like people to remember my dad as a decent man who worked hard to provide for his family, who faced the world with good humor, who would lend anyone a hand when he was able, and who did the best he could as a friend, a brother, a husband, a father and a grandfather.