He was 20 when I met him, though I don’t remember much about the encounter. He had a reputation of being a bit wild and crazy. He was a son of a preacher who drove fast and was a little reckless, to the point he even once rolled his car. His nickname, “speedwater.” He was as thin as a rail, had a flat top, and had just met a beautiful young lady in Indiana. He married her, and soon after, I met him for the first time. He is my dad.
I don’t have the memory he has; he can remember things from when he was a child, events as early as three years old. He remembers his first bike, walking to school, and even his homes and places in the many towns he lived in as a preachers kid. I have memories of things we did as a child, but they only come by watching slides (old photos shown on a projector for those who have no idea what a slide is). Slides of him taking us vacations out west, to many national parks landmarks, California to see an uncle, and what felt like yearly trips to Florida.
Dad worked in a factory in my early years, the Gearworks in Indianapolis. I mention this because it’s my first actual memory of him, every week, on payday, he would bring me a Matchbox or Hot Wheels car. I still have them today. Our first home was simple, a little ranch in Noblesville on Cumberland Road, it still stands today, and brings a couple of early memories. First was the day I woke up to cows in our backyard, somehow, they had broken through the fence. A second was the night he and mom let me and Jim Coffey sleep out in my tent in the side yard. He strung a light out to our tent to help “keep the monsters away.” We couldn’t have been more than four years old. Finally, I remember big snow storms and the drifts we would have, it was like a Christmas card, and dad would always be out early in the morning shoveling snow.
At the age of five, we moved to a new two-story colonial home on the north side of Noblesville. It’s been home now for over 50 years. I don’t remember riding bikes, playing games, or playing ball with dad, he wasn’t much of a ball player and that was pretty much my life as a kid, but there are still lots of memories that stick out. First was coffee, he always had a cup of joe with him. Sometimes he left it on top of the car, sometimes he spilled it, but a black cup of coffee was always near. Second, I remember the year dad got mom a popcorn popper for her birthday. To say the least, it didn’t go well. I resolved in that moment that if I ever got married, my wife would never get an appliance for her birthday or Christmas. The final memory is the best. For years mom wanted a pool. Dad’s excuse was that he couldn’t find the pump to the well in the backyard. This worked well for a while, until mom decided she would help him find the pump. One day she sent me under the house to find the water line, I spotted it, and we started digging. We were getting close, my hands and head were in the hole, when mom said, “let me give it one more shovel.” My head still in the hole, she hit the line. Suddenly there was an Old Faithful explosion of water. With several neighbor’s help, we finally got the water shut off. I bathed at one of their homes, and a few months later we had a pool. Dad had met his match. That pool provided so much fun and laughter through the years, and though he didn’t swim much, it says a lot about who he is. His enjoyment was watching the memories he was able to give to his family.
Dad has always had a passionate love for his family which led to him being an incredibly hard worker, doing all he could to provide for us. Our lives changed when he decided to leave the factory and become a real estate agent. Over time he began to succeed, and not only did he become a good salesman, but the companies he worked for noticed his leadership ability. He would become a manager at three different realty firms, spending his final twenty-five years, as a Vice-Presidnet of the Noblesville branch of F.C. Tucker, the largest realty firm in Indiana. His office was nearly always the top preforming group in the company, and his office was a place people loved to work at.
Dad’s strongest attribute is his love for God and His Kingdom. He grew up in a pastor’s home, and there was much he saw that he didn’t like, but it also made him the man he is. After marrying, he became a sectional youth leader and was a song leader. With my mom’s gift of playing both the piano and organ, they were quite a team. My first memory of dad in church was when we left the church in Noblesville and started attending a church in Alexandria, Indiana. Dad became an important part of the church and a close friend to pastor Davenport. Soon after we started attending, the church went into a building program. Though I was just a child, I have fond memories of tagging along with dad and helping on the project.
When I was twelve, we left the Alexandria for a church in Indianapolis, Calvary Tabernacle. It’s here that dad left an indelible mark. He served as an usher, taught in Sunday School, and became a board member. He was a board member for nearly 25 years and was an integral part in securing finances for multiple projects. He left a lasting impact helping Calvary Tabernacle build a new facility and assisting them secure facilities for Indiana Bible College and Calvary Christian School. When Mary and I started Life Connections he came on board and heled us secure financing for its current campus and served on the board for 15 years. In addition, Dad has supported countless missionaries and mission’s project. His impact on the world and the Kingdom of God will not be fully known and appreciated until eternity.
I would define my dad’s life in four dimensions. As mentioned above, he is an incredible businessman and a man who loves God and His Kingdom. After dad’s love for God and the Kingdom he has an incredible love for reading. His office is a small library, filled with a mirid of authors and subjects. Get an invite and you will see 50 years of National Geographic Magazines, the complete collection of Louis L’Amour westerns, a plethora of books on travel, and many biographies. Still larger, is his collection of religious writings and Bibles. Nearly every book Max Lucado has written, authors from the early 1900’s, and all types of commentaries on the Bible. Finally, dad loves to travel. He and mom have traveled the world, seeing five continents. They have been to every state in the U.S., Europe, Israel, Egypt, China, and so many other places. Add countless cruises and ports and there aren’t many places they haven’t been.
Today, December 15, 2023, we celebrate dad as he turns 80. He has lived a full and successful life. He has lived a blessed life and blessed many. He has impacted people’s lives personally, impacted his community, and impacted the world through his passionate love for God and missions. He has been a successful dad, grandfather, and now great grandfather. He has left us all with an amazing example of how to live life, to be a Christian, and has given us a legacy that will outlive him. Dad. I’m blessed to walk in your shadow and thankful that God chose me to be your son. I love you and admire you more than you will ever know. Happy 80th! May God bless you with many more healthy and prosperous years.