A legacy of love and laughter

For an unassuming man, my dad died dramatically on January 29 (Super Bowl weekend), 19 years ago. We mark this anniversary by celebrating his life.
My brother traditionally honors our dad by taking his own four kids out for ice cream. When we were young, my brother, my sisters and I all attended tennis camp at different times on the Lawrence University Campus. Every year at some point during our week there, my dad would show up and sneak us out for a quick ice cream cone.
With a true love of life and family, my Dad taught all of us how to raise a joyful family.
He called my youngest sister Jenny “the Little Honey” and had a hard time disciplining her because she made him laugh.
My sister Kathy once took a long walk with him through the Pennsylvania mountains. They swung through his hometown of Colver on the tail end of their walk, and accepted a ride home on the back of a Cambria County fire truck, sirens screaming.
He began a tradition of taking each of us on a special trip for our 16th birthday. On my turn, we went to San Francisco and walked over the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito, where he bought me a dress that I still own today.
Lots of dads give piggy back rides to their children, but I remember my dad once hoisting our whole family on his back, my mom included, and walking us across the room.
That sense of fun increased exponentially when the grandchildren came along. My dad loved to pick my oldest son up from half day kindergarten and take him to Martines Restaurant (the former Left Guard) for “the businessman’s lunch.”
Deep in the woods of land he bought along the Oconto River, he carved three chairs out of trees for himself, Charlie and Katherine.
Since 1993, six more grandchildren, including his namesake, have joined our family and I like to think my dad is watching and chuckling over all of them.
We can take our children to a cabin he built in NorthernWisconsin, or three different Halls of Fame in which he is enshrined.  There is a high school track in Ebensberg,Pennsylvania that bears his name.
But I like to think my Dad’s true legacy lies in the stories we tell and the laughs we share. In every sense, it is a legacy of love.

This is my favorite picture of my dad
and my son Charlie. Mostly, my dad
was the guy behind the camera, so we
really treasure the times we caught him
in front of it.
My dad added the thought bubbles to this picture
of him and Charlie and kept it on his desk at the office.
The one above his head says ‘Do we look alike?” and the
one above Charlie’s says, “Get serious. I’m Croatian, not Polish.”
Here’s a sweet shot of my dad and Katherine.

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