Friday, October 24, 2008

One man’s family (continued)

And you thought I was through! Not quite yet.

In the last post, I didn’t tell you much about my wife’s family or anything at all about my Dad’s. I have posted previously about the Albanians and even their cooking (which see, or, as the research papers would put it, q.v.) but I didn’t tell you that Mrs. Rhymeswith-plague’s brother is named Michael, that he is married to Mary B. from North Carolina, and that they have two children, Rhonda and James.

Now we come to my Dad. He was born in Wisconsin in 1906, the fifth and youngest son of Elmer and Edith Lillian B., who moved the family to Iowa when he was fifteen. It has been there ever since, pretty much, except for the branch that moved to California. Dad’s four older brothers were Arthur (Art), John, Leo, and Daniel (Dan). He also had a sister who died in infancy. Art and John both served in the U.S. Army during World War I; Leo and Dad both served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Art and his wife Anna had six children (Richard, Shirley, Peggy, Isabel, Sandra, and Barbara). John and his wife Martha had three girls (Trudy, Elaine, and Daveen), and later in life John married Gladys. Leo married Genevieve, but they had no children. Dan, who died of a brain tumor at 32 in 1936, left Leila to raise their two small children (Donald and Evelyn). Uncle Art’s girls are scattered around; I know that one is in Oregon. One of Uncle John's girls is in Minnesota. In that whole group of cousins, there were only two boys, my cousin Dick and I, to carry on the family name. Dan’s wife, Leila, married again and her new husband adopted Donald and Evelyn and changed their last name to his. Dick was old enough to serve in the Navy in World War II; after the war he had a son named Donovan, who died in his thirties. Of this entire crowd, I met only John, Gladys, Leila, Sandra, Barbara, and Elaine.

Dad was married at one time before he met my mother, but his wife filed for a divorce while he was at sea in the Navy during World War II. They had no children. He met my mother in 1945 and was married to her for eleven years, from 1946 until her death in 1957. Then he was married to my stepmother, Mildred, for nine years, from 1958 until his own death in 1967. Mildred married John F. in 1968, and they traveled life’s road together for 35 years. John died in 2003 and Mildred died in 2004.

My genealogy software, Family Tree Maker, tells me it has information on file about -- brace yourself -- 848 people who are or were, in one way or another, related to me.

I never told it any information, though, about my biological father. By his own actions, he became irrelevant. He may have been there at the moment of my conception, but in all other respects pertaining to being a real father, he never existed. I know who my “real” father was. He never had any biological children of his own, but he raised me from the time I was four years old, he became a second father to my stepbrothers and stepsister during their teen and young adult years, and became a grandfather several times over. He once said to me, “When I die, don’t spend money on an expensive monument. I won’t need one. You will be my monument. When people meet you, they will know what sort of man I was.”

Now there’s a father a person can look up to.


  1. I have found your information very interesting.
    I also use Family Tree Maker to record my family history.

  2. Woops ! I forgot to add I think your stepfather was right. Children can be the monument that show how they lived and in which they live on.

  3. I found what your father told you to be very moving. He understood the meaning of responsibility. And you are honoring his memory with this post.

  4. my dad just barely died in april of the year...was 89.....miss died at 59 25 years ago....miss her too

  5. Your stepfather was a "real" dad in every sense of the meaning.

  6. “When I die, don’t spend money on an expensive monument. I won’t need one. You will be my monument. When people meet you, they will know what sort of man I was.”
    My word but that's a wise thing to say. It belongs in some kind of dictionary of homely quotations. More people should think like that.

  7. Two interesting posts, as you have shown us the family threads included in the weaving of your life! Yes, the man who became your real father sounds like a very special man, and these posts were a wonderful tribute.

  8. This is a beautiful tribute to your father. I love what he said and I so agree. You were VERY lucky to have him raise you. Besides, what is a father, but the man who carries you in his heart. He must have had a very large heart.