Dear Dad, I know that you were born on February 24, 1900 and I apologize for being a couple of days late in writing this. You taught me to always be prompt and many other important things and I love you for it.
You were always kind and gentle with me, like the time that I was being a difficult three year old who didn’t want to take a bath. Thanks for telling me the story years later. I told this story in a book called “Up From Hanging Dog.” It’s the first story in the book, and now everyone can know of your patience with all six of your children.
Later on when I was a young boy, you were kind and gentle with me again, after you caught us boys smoking the burly tobacco that we had taken from the barn. You handled it in such a way that I never smoked again until I was about age 21 and had finished with my basketball and track activities in school.
You didn’t scold me when you learned that I had been given an “F” in Latin. You understood that I was standing up for what I believed. You taught me to do this. I have told this story in my book, and I gave it the unlikely name of “It was all Winston’s Fault.” You laughed with me about the result of my outspoken tendencies.
When I was about age sixteen and knew everything, we had a serious discussion about President Harry Truman. I told you that nothing good could come out of the Pendergast political machine of Kansas City. I was wrong and you were right—again. Harry didn’t have a bunch of college degrees, but he had a lot of common sense and was not afraid to stand up to anyone.
I admired the guts that it took for you and Mother to take the family to Cullowhee so that you could get a degree and continue teaching. I am proud that you rose to the front and became president of the North Carolina Education Association. I came to know from your example that I too could take a leadership position, which I did with NASFA (National Association of State Farm Agents.) I became president against long odds. Thanks, Dad.
After I had been a salesman with Rath Packing Company for one year, you asked me how much I was making. I was embarrassed to tell you because it was more than you were making as a school teacher for many years. But you stuck with it because you loved what you were doing, and realized the impact you had on so many lives.
When you passed on to a better place and your funeral was held at the First Methodist Church of Waynesville, it was filled to overflowing by people you had touched during a lifetime of teaching and just doing the right things.
The night before you died you tried to tell me something, and I could not understand due to all of the tubes going down your throat. You had never complained.
But later that night I figured it out. You were trying to ask me, “Does this have to go on indefinitely?”
The next day the gates to the kingdom opened and you left us with wonderful memories of a good and kind man.