• 64°

Remembering my father’s legacy

As I’m writing, Monday, April 26, I’m reminded of April 26, 1955. It’s been 66 years, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

I was in the Navy aboard a destroyer, the USS Saufley, stationed in Key West, Florida. At 7 a.m., two Red Cross representatives came aboard the ship and requested to speak to me. Two weeks prior to this, I had been home on a 10-day leave for Easter.

With a spirit of concern and compassion, they told me that my dad had died suddenly at 2 a.m. that morning. My reaction was one of disbelief. My dad was only 48 years old and seemed to be healthy.

Plans were made for me to fly home. I arrived at the funeral home at 9:30 p.m.

In those days, the funeral home remained open all night and most of the family stayed there until the funeral the next day.

From the time I received the message of my dad’s death, my trip home, and the night of the wake, I didn’t remember much. However, the one thing that touched me was early the next morning. Five Black men knocked at the back door of the funeral home and asked for permission to come in and pay their respects. They worked with my dad at the Godchaux Sugar Refinery. That was a message to me that my dad was respected by others.

My dad loved my mom and it showed at all times. He was the protector, provider and spiritual head of our family. He was active in his church and participated in politics, but was more interested in the affairs of his children. He was unselfish, and that’s a gift he left to his children and grandchildren.

My wife also worked at the Sugar Refinery and developed a close relationship with my dad. She often says how much she regrets that he died before we started dating.

My dad was the biggest influence in my life.

 

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