On February 17, 2016, my dad passed away at the age of 84. If you’ve been following this blog or listened to my voicemails on such podcasts as Dread Media, Paleo Cinema or the B Movie Cast, then you’ve heard me talk about him. Many people who knew him would never have expected him to be a monster kid or a Trekkie like the rest of us. But he was and I wish to honor his memory and his amazing life.
My dad grew up as an only child and his parents divorced at a young age. He was often alone, so it is no surprise that when faced with the possibility of a French boarding school as his parents were headed to work on the oil pipelines in Saudi Arabia, he chose to run away from home at the age of 16. He falsified his date of birth and joined the United States Marine Corp. Even though his mother caught up with him, he was allowed to stay in as long as he stayed out of trouble. It was a different era to be sure. This was the start of a twenty year career that saw my dad earn the rank of 1st Lieutenant, serving in the Korean and Vietnam wars, as well as Operation Greenhouse. Reading my dad’s diary as he described atomic bomb tests and being trailed by a Russian submarine has helped bring to light the first phase of his life that I never really knew. It has been fascinating discovering this part of his life.
When I was born in 1967, he began his second career in the Chamber of Commerce. First in Missouri, then Kansas and finally Texas, my dad went from serving his country to serving his community. This was the dad I knew. He was home every night for dinner, would take my mom and I on business trips/vacations and, above all else, he was always there for me. He was a big kid who loved train sets and playing Hot Wheels, never afraid to get on the floor and embrace his inner child. No matter how tired he may have been, he never turned down the chance to play.
His third career led my dad to become a Deacon in the Catholic Church. He and my mom are responsible for saving Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Dewey, OK. He grew attached to that small little town just north of their home in Bartlesville, OK, a place that was home to the Tom Mix Museum, where my dad and I visited several times, watching My Pal, The King (1933) in the little theater. Dad always loved a good western.
Growing up, I have so many fond memories of my dad. We would watch Flash Gordon serials, Hopalong Cassidy and The Abbott and Costello Show on Sunday mornings. It was my dad who introduced me to chess and old time radio. Saturday nights are when my dad embraced his inner monster kid as we watched Creature Feature with Crematia Mortem. And yes, my dad was a Trekkie. He saw every episode of Star Trek with me numerous times, the first five films and yes, he even attended conventions. My dad attended Trek Expo in Tulsa, Oklahoma a total of six times, four of which were in 2009-2012. That final year in 2012, my dad was an amazing 80 years old. He was there when I met William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Frank Gorshin, Anne Francis and many others. It was a yearly event for us and the highlight of our year.
My dad and I went to the last two Star Trek movies together. In fact, Star Trek Into Darkness was his last movie in a theater. But his love for movies continued until last year as he was always watching Turner Classic Movies, calling to let me know when something cool was on. I can’t tell you how much I miss those random phone calls. And something will surely be missing this summer when I go to Star Trek Beyond without him.
While I miss my dad terribly, he is at peace now after a long bout with Lewey Body Dementia. My sister and I were with him at the very end. My heart hurts as my fellow Trekkie and monster kid is gone but I smile in knowing that he will always be with us in spirit. Live long and prosper Dad. I love you.