When my father died in August, I couldn’t speak at his
funeral even though I wanted to. My two brothers, my son, my nephew, two nieces
and two cousins spoke fondly and movingly of my father and what he meant in
During World War II, my father left school at 17 after his
sophomore year and enlisted in the Navy with the consent of my grandparents.After the service to his country was done, he
returned home AND returned to high school, too.He often said that those were the worst two years of his life—completing
high school because his mother and my mother wanted him to.
He rarely spoke of his time in the service.Men of that generation didn’t.Back in the time when men were men and boys
were men, too, my father was an extraordinary man.The plaque on my father’s barn wood urn says “Husband
– Father – Patriot”.He was all three.
I was nearly 60 years old before I knew that my father’s
name was on a war memorial back in his hometown.It’s underneath his oldest sister’s
name.My Aunt Toot, Mary Lucille
Crawford, was an Army nurse. Several of
my uncles are also listed on this memorial.
The eulogy given by my younger brother, Timothy S. Luffy
(CDR, USN Ret.), at my father’s funeral on Sept. 11, 2019 tells you more about
“My dad lived a long and full life and made many friends and acquaintances
along the way.We will all remember him
in our own way depending how he impacted our lives in only the way he
could. I thought of how I would describe the life of my father and
could not come up with just one way, so I have chosen to describe his life in a
series of words, phrases, or stories...see if any of these would be how you
would describe my dad and how you will remember him...
Son of John and Millie, born on a farm in Lower Burrell, PA;
brother, twin brother in fact to Jack; little brother to his three sisters
Toot, Mae, and Margie; big brother to Jim.
Son of a farmer...he probably milked more cows, slopped more
hogs, fed more chickens, and baled more hay than I could ever imagine; great depression
era kid who learned the value of a dollar and to never throw anything away as
it may just come in handy at some point in the future (more on that later);
learned to fix and repair things with his own hands; had countless hours of fun
with his friends and brothers with whatever they had at hand...
United States Navy Sailor and World War II veteran; joined
the Navy at 17 with his parent's permission after lying and trying to join the
Navy at 16, boot camp at 18, served as a Seabee (naval construction battalion)
for two years in the Pacific Theater on the islands of Guam, Tinian, and Saipan
rebuilding infrastructure after the war.Seabees mottos:We Build, We
Fight; Can Do; The difficult we do now, the impossible takes a little longer...seems
like any one of these mottos could be use to describe my dad...
Mechanic for Ford Motor Company and worked on farm equipment
throughout the area after returning from the Pacific...
Arizonan for the last 62 years...moved here from Pennsylvania
in 1957 with my mom, Billy, and Janet in a loaded down car and a trailer with
all their possessions and bicycles strapped to the tongue of the trailer...while
not strictly speaking a "native" of Arizona, they built a life here
in Scottsdale and then growing, and still growing Phoenix metropolis...
Construction worker, cement mixer driver, truck driver...he
worked outside in the Arizona heat for 30 plus years, building ditches, driving
a cement mixer all over town, and as a salesman and company coordinator on the
job site getting mixers on the right job and in the right place at the right
time.Could drive anything...didn't
matter how big, how many axles, or how many wheels, or how many trailers were
attached...he just had that gift and deft touch...
Hunter and fisherman...my family grew up hunting and fishing
all across the state from nearly border to border and from the desert to the
mountains. I think he liked trout fishing the best because it was generally in the
mountains away from the heat of the Valley.
Endurance and long haul driver...recognizing the importance of
family, I remember summer vacations as a two week odyssey from AZ to PA to
visit grandparents and family with dad's endurance driving on either end...he
would work all week (outside in the heat), load the car Friday afternoon, take
a nap after dinner, get us up and loaded and on the road at midnight and we
would wake up Saturday somewhere in Texas.Drive all day Saturday until he was ready to pass out, get some rest
that night, do it again Sunday until we got home to PA, usually less than 48 hours
door to door. Ten days later we would repeat the process going west to Arizona.By the way, he did all the driving as I
recall...the drivers in the 24 hour races of Daytona and Le Mans has nothing on
Mechanic, fixer, handyman, builder...from his childhood on
the farm, his service in the Seabees, and his days as a Ford mechanic, Dad
could fix just about anything with the tools collected over the years and the
things he never threw away, remember, he was a depression era kid, so
everything was saved for the potential for future use.If he could take it apart, he could probably
fix it...I saw the inside of numerous appliances as a kid and was under the
hood or literally under many of the cars we had when I was growing up.
As a handyman and builder, he did it all, from storage rooms to
storage sheds, from remodeling the house and moving walls and doors, and
pouring untold yards of concrete to make walks and patios all around the house.I believe his greatest work was the fireplace
in our family room...he figured out how to build it, bought the materials, and
set about knocking a 3 foot square hole in the wall, setting the foundation and
firebox, building the hearth, brick front, and mantle on the inside and the
flue and chimney on the outside.Not the
normal undertaking you see today but one that was normal for him...
Neighbor and friend...he, and my mom, would do anything for
any neighbor that needed help at anytime...they both have a servant's heart
which I define as doing something for others without the expectation of an act
in return.That's just the way my
neighborhood was when I was growing up...all the kids were outside playing, the
parents were outside also, and real relationships existed on our street.
Believer...founding member here at this church...he has left
this earthly home and has been resurrected and is now in his heavenly home with
his mom, dad, twin brother, sisters, and his extended family.We here in this earthly home can be comforted
by the fact that we, the believers that remain behind, will be united for
eternity with dad when the Lord calls us home...so, we'll be seeing you dad.
Every family has its own language, one where something is
said by a member of the family and everyone else gets it and knows what it
means.Our family is no different and as
the head of the family, dad has his own language also...here are some of my
favorite lines from dad...
Whip and spur; you don't have to be leading the charge, you
just need to be in the charge (speeding tickets); Whoa Nelly (probably a few
too many westerns there); I was born at night, but I wasn't born last night!
(we usually got that one when we were trying to talk our way out of trouble); Are
you still in love? (a favorite question for the grandkids while they were or
are dating); If it was a snake, you'd be dead (for when we missed the obvious);
Lock and load (meaning it was time to go and he was always the first one ready
to go and yelling at the rest of us); Poke a nose, poke a eye (one of the
routine sayings to the grandkids and great grandkids).
While Dad may have been many things to many people, he was
first and foremost a husband, a father, and a family man...he was always there
and always present.
Husband to Eilene, in fact, yesterday, the 9th of September, was
their 69th wedding anniversary; they built a life and home together on a plot
of land next to his father's farm...funniest story...mom and dad built this two
room house but ran out of material to finish the final wall, so they tore down
my grandfather's chicken coop, scraped off the chicken poop, and finished their
little house...indicative of my mom and dad in doing what was needed to get the
job done.I suspect there are a few more
stories like that one...
Their marriage was an example for my brother, sister, and me
on how to make a marriage work and last...it takes two in a marriage for it to
flourish...was it perfect?Of course
not...no marriage is perfect, but they loved each other, worked through the
challenges, and loved us and showed it. In the end, mom and dad are at 69
years, Bill and Rosie are just shy of 45 years of marriage, Janet and Steve are
at 30 years of marriage, and Elizabeth and I are at 34 years of marriage.
Mom and dad moved here to AZ and bought a house here in
Scottsdale near the future site of Coronado High School, literally a mile and a
half from here as the crow flies, where they raised three kids and still live
today, 62 years later.
Father to Billy and Janet and Tim, my older brother and
sister started in that little two room house in PA and I was born here in AZ...Dad
was there and present for all of us growing up...from the school plays to
football, baseball, basketball, and track sporting events to family vacations
to hunting and fishing trips to tubing down the Verde River with the Wrights,
one of my favorite things to do growing up.
As adults, mom and dad were there for us as we did adult
things...buying our first car; moving into our own houses, whether across the
Valley, across the state line to California, or in my case, across the country and
to and from Hawaii several times; being there to help us get settled; being
there for our weddings; and being there for the birth of their grandchildren,
again, here in the Valley, in California, and in Hawaii, Washington, California
and Virginia for my four children.What
I am trying to convey is that they supported us no matter what we asked of them
or where we were; if you called and asked, they would be there no questions
Grandfather to Chris, Jack, Shelby, Samantha, Kevin, Scott,
Sean, and Sarah.For the eight of you,
please know that he loved you very much and had a role in raising you just as
your parents did. I know he is proud of the young men and women you have
Great grandfather to Krosby, Jensen, Campbell, and
Sawyer.You too are part of his legacy.
As you can see, my dad lived a long and full life; he was not
afraid of hard work, he served his country, he took care of his neighbors and
friends, and he led, loved, and provided for his family with all his heart. His
legacy will mean something a little different to each of us...go from this
celebration today with your memory of my dad, the impact he has had on your
life, and remember him fondly.”