This week has been a rough one for our family. My father-in-law, who has been ailing for some time, passed away late on Sunday. Today is his funeral and burial.
In the midst of our grief, pain, and sorrow, there are moments of happiness, laughter, and smiles as we remember him. Everyone is sharing stories about his life… some that we’ve all heard a million times and others that are new to us. Most of them involve a car, boat, or other vehicle of some kind.
Chris added personal details to the standard obituary format that the funeral drafted for us:
“He was a proud Army Veteran, serving his country honorably during the Vietnam Era by manning Nike-Hercules long-range air defense missile bases around the country. After being honorably discharged from the service, he married the love of his life, Diane Clapp, nee Wagner, in the summer of 1969 (on the same weekend as Woodstock, as he was always quick to point out).
He was a brilliant tinkerer and resurrecter of all things mechanical. He was always quick to help family and friends out of a jam when something broke. Fittingly, he worked in copier sales and service and was the owner of Reliable Office Products in Whitehouse Station.
Robert served on the Readington Township Historical Preservation Commission helping to restore numerous schools and farms of historic value around the community. He was a long time member of the Stanton Reformed Church. He loved old cars and was an avid reader of Hemmings Motor News. He seemed to know something about every old car he encountered, complete with a story from his life to complement engine, body, or production details. He loved the outdoors, especially fishing and camping. He was never happier than when he was spending time with family and friends at his “little red school house” vacation home outside Cooperstown, NY. In his day-to-day life, he found joy in simple pleasures. He could often be found relaxing outside on the back deck, listening to a small radio, and enjoying the day with his dog. His laid-back approach to life and sense of humor will be missed tremendously.”
I would add that, while he wasn’t a man who expressed a lot of sentiment, you never doubted that he loved you. He always knew what our weather was wherever Chris and I were at the time, often alerting us to incoming storms before we’d heard anything about them. Every time he talked to Chris on the phone he asked how my car was doing. And if I had car trouble and couldn’t get in touch with Chris for help, I called Buzz.
It has been a rough time for us, watching his health decline over the past few years and watching him in even more pain for the past few weeks. We mourn his loss, but we are grateful that he no longer suffers. And man, we sure do miss him.