Friday, May 4, 2012

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I'm sitting in my Dad's office at his home in Elizabeth City, North Carolina - Dad slipped his moorings and crossed over to the Other Side, last night at 2040 hours local.

Dad died peacefully in his sleep in front of the TV, surrounded by the momentos of a lifetime in Asia. He fell asleep at about noon and never woke up. His last words to me before he drifted off were, "Check the price on BP, see if there are any calls to sell."

Dad was 87. The second of four sons, born in London, England, my Dad was raised in Victoria, Australia, in pubs owned and operated by his Dad. My Dad wanted to be an artist, but had to leave school after the 8th grade to help support his family during the Great Depression. He continued his education in night school until the age of 36.

During World War II, Dad worked as an apprentice machinist and later a draftsman in the shipyards at Williamstown, Victoria, repairing US and Royal Australian Navy warships. He told me how he once went out on a test cruise on a Dutch submarine, "The minute they sealed the hatches and went down, everything smelled like a fart."

After the war, my Dad worked as a manager for an engineering equipment firm in Broken Hill, New South Wales, and enjoyed riding his motorcycle in the desert.

In 1959 - when I was six months old - Dad emigrated to the United States, where he worked as an engineer in Seattle Washington and Oakland California, on bridge and crane projects, as well as rocket gantries for NASA's Project Mercury.

In 1961 Dad took a contract building a urea fertilizer processing plant in Sumatra, Indonesia, beginning a three-decade career in Asia, which included building power plants in Bangladesh and Thailand, and a water treatment plant in Turkey.

Dad was also an investor and devoted long hours to the markets, making and losing several fortunes over the decades. He was proud the day he became a US citizen at a ceremony that I attended, at Fort Bragg. Late in life Dad returned to his art, painting in oils, like the one above. He won several local contests and sold his works for a decent sum.

My Dad is survived by his third wife of 10 years, Ruth. He was married for 45 years to my mother, who passed away twelve years ago. He is survived by four sons and a daughter, twelve grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

He was a great Dad - I couldn't have asked for better. He gave me an upbringing full of fun, travel and adventure - to him I owe my thirst for wanderlust, my accomplishments in engineering, and my gift for languages. Dad was always there for me, did so many things for me. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to be here for him as he went down the Last Trail.

Goodbye Dad - you were a one-off, a Leader of the Pack. You will be missed by many.


Dad's studio.


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