This, more or less, is the talk I delivered at Dad's memorial service at Cottonwood Presbyterian, Salt Lake City, Utah on  23 February 2019.

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Hey Mine, look at me, I’m in church! Last time I was here at Cottonwood Presbyterian was when Greg and Bob Anne Hall tricked me into coming by getting married here. The irony that it’s my father who got me here a second time is not lost on me.

   Just a few quick asides before I start. First, I know I look like my father and that is fine with me. A couple years ago I was in the Seattle transit tunnel and I came around a corner and caught my reflection and in a fraction of a second, I went from the excitement of running into Dad to the disappointment of realizing it was just my own reflection. Second, you all know my mother as Bobbie but I started calling her Mine as a child and that is still what we call her so you will hear me use that name and it’s also the origin of her favorite name- Grandma Mine. Last, I doubt I’ll get through this without crying but that’s okay with me and I hope it will be okay with you- I don’t mind shedding tears for my father, it’s just a little saline mixed with love.

   I’m here today to talk about my father. I’m going to talk about the man I knew. Many of you knew Dad as Bobbie’s husband, some of you knew him as a brother or a brother in-law, perhaps he was your teacher or you might have known him as a patron of the theater or as a naval officer. I didn’t know him in those aspects of his life- I knew the man as my father. I suspect Sue and Peter knew him as a different father than I knew him so this is about my truth and if it is different from your truth, that’s okay with me and I know it would have been just fine with him as well.

    Dad was a good man. He was a fair man, a just man, a patient man, a pragmatic man, a wise man. But most of all, he was man of impeccable integrity.

   Dad was a naval officer and he was proud of his 22 years of service. I have been told he was a good officer by people who sailed with him and I suspect he was. If you saw Dad you know he looked like a naval officer until his last days. In his second career as a math teacher, he told me that the kids nick name for him was GI Joe- he liked that. So, while he looked the part and could certainly command the respect of a military man, he never acted that way at home. While I had friends, whose fathers were natural at giving orders and correcting lapses in behavior, that was never my father. He never told me to cut my hair, or change my clothes, or get rid of my earing.

   There is only one thing the man ever demanded of me and that was to respect our mother. We grew up in the generation where patents spanked their children and I remember a couple occasions when he spanked me and both those times were for speaking back to our mother. I don’t recall him ever spanking me for speaking back to him but on the rare occasions when I crossed that line, he didn’t hit me, he didn’t yell at me or threaten me, he simply told me not to do that again in a patient but commanding tone that made me want to never do it again.

   Dad was not an overly emotional man. He was a drama-free man. He certainly loved his family, and he had no problem telling us that he loved us- I have never doubted for a moment that I was loved by him and that that love was unconditional. His three granddaughters were a particular source of joy in his life and that love was both given and reciprocated unconditionally. But the one true passion in his life was his wife, our mother. He loved her above all else.

   Dad was a just and fair man. He should have been a judge. When family conflicts arose and he could no longer avoid getting involved, he typically resolved the situation with a sense of fairness and justice. Unless the conflict was between one of us kids and our mother, in which case, he informed us that regardless of the situation he was going to side with Mine because, as he always said, he was going to be living with her a lot longer than he was going to live with any of his children. Dad was a wise man.

   Dad was a graduate of Princeton University and growing up he was a good student and, like our mother, he was fully engaged in his academics and in extracurricular activities. As recently as last year he was still attending high school and university class reunions.

   I, however, was never a good student. While teachers always said they enjoyed having me in their class, there was always that follow-up statement about how I wasn’t working up to my academic potential. I so dreaded those parent-teacher conference nights and would be sick to my stomach waiting for Mine and Dad to return home and for the shoe to drop. Dad’s response was always the same- he never yelled and he never expressed disappointment, he just asked if he could help in some way.

   These were rare times, this unsolicited offer to help. That was not his way. You typically needed to ask him for help but if you did, you immediately got his full and undivided attention. I’m sure the man would have given me his left arm if I had asked for it. Probably not his right arm- he would have saved that for Bobbie.

   When I graduated from high school I went to the U, grade 13! It never occurred to me that there was any option but to go to college. When I left for school, I had another unique interaction with Dad- one of unsolicited advice! He told me that college was the time in a person’s life when you got the opportunity to try different experiences, a time to remake yourself and then remake yourself again. He said it was a time in life when you could make a total and complete ass of yourself and that was okay. The last thing he said was, ”and your mother and I don’t need to know anything about it”. Like I said, he was a wise man.

   The U was a mixed bag for me. I fell in love with Molecular Biology but my academic mediocrity continued. By the end of my second year I was MISERABLE and it was Dad who pointed out that I didn’t have to go to school if I didn’t want to- until that moment it had never occurred to me. So, with his acceptance and encouragement, I took a year off and worked as a biologist in a small biotech company and a year later I returned to school and eventually got my degree.

   Dad was not a handyman. He wasn’t someone who could build things with his hands. Everything he didn’t know about being handy he taught me- I’m as useless around the house as he was. How Sue learned to be handy is beyond me- she certainly didn’t learn it from him. But Dad had his own hidden talents. In 1973 our family relocated from San Diego to Northern Virginia. We did it as a month-long road trip- up the west coast, across Canada, and down the east coast. I have a lot of fond memories of that trip but one that really stands out was the discovery of one of those hidden talents. We had stopped in New York state to visit with our cousins who had a sail boat. I spent the morning sailing with my cousins who were older and who I probably idolized to some extent. After lunch, Dad asked he could take the boat out and brought me along. Dad could sail! We FLEW across the lake and back again and again and again- we were flying! My cousins didn’t know squat about sailing compared to Dad.

   For those of you who know me, this may come as a surprise but when I was 6 and 7 years old, I attended Sunday school every week. I don’t remember a whole lot about Sunday school but I remember the tears every Saturday night as Mine worked with me to memorize the week’s bible passage. And so it went, week after week. After some number of passages, I got the bronze pin, then the silver pin, then the gold pin and then the grand prize- I was presented with a bible in front of the whole congregation. I do remember being way more impressed by the chapel than I was with the classroom. On the way home that day, Dad informed me that I had given church a good go and that if I wanted, he’d be happy to keep bringing me to church but that the choice was mine. I have never doubted the sincerity of his offer to drive me to church but I’ll admit I never took him up on it. This is the first time I recall Dad giving me an opportunity to chart my own path in this world and it wouldn’t be the last.

   I have made my living as a biologist. Dad never understood my attraction for the subject and he never understood what I did technically. I would try to explain what I did and his response was always the same- “I don’t understand the attraction but I’m glad you love it!” When I published my first scientific paper as first author, I mailed him a copy and quickly got a call from him- he said he didn’t understand any of the paper but wanted to congratulate me all the same. In the late 1990’s Dad read an article on the human genome project and called to ask if that was what I was working on. When I told him it was, he had a bunch of questions about being involved in such a large scientific project and I think that was the first time he got an inkling of what I did for a living. And then, just a few years ago, I got a call from him at work. He said he had just Googled me and was surprised with the number of publications I had been involved with- he claimed he didn’t understand a the title of a single paper but was impressed all the same and told me he was glad I had persued a career that I loved even if he didn’t understand my attraction to it. I don’t recall if Dad ever told me he was proud of me but I have never doubted that he was.

   Dad was not a believer. He called himself an agnostic but that wasn’t because he had doubts of his own but rather because being an atheist meant questioning the faith and belief of other people and that was never what he was about. He was a man who encouraged other people, not someone who tried to limit them or demean them. He was the first feminist I ever knew and he was a proud supporter of the women he worked with - he strongly believed that girls should have strong women role models and mentors and he did what he could to make that happen.

   Dad was a voracious reader and a lifelong student of history, particularly American history. He didn’t just read the latest best-selling biography of the latest in vogue founding father (although he did read those just as soon as they went on sale). Rather, Dad would read multiple sources on whatever topic he was interested in. He taught us to keep in mind that history was written by the victorious and that history was not a dead and static subject but something that lived, breathed and changed over time. As I said, I was not a good student in school but history was not a subject I ever struggled with- I quickly discovered I had learned more history at Dad’s dinner table than I was ever going to learn from the class text book which alleviated me from the frustrations of trying to reading the text book- thanks Dad!

   I was raised in a household that believed all people were created equal. In my entire life I never heard Dad tell a racist joke- NOT EVER! Not a single one. We were brought up not to be color blind but rather to understand that there is a long and deep history of racism in our country and that there were people still oppressed by that history and there were other people who still propagated racism. He was disappointed with our current political situation but certainly not surprised by it.

   For better or worse, I never really had much conflict with Dad. At that age when most boys usually rebel against their fathers, Dad and I were colleagues- we refereed soccer together. Dad didn’t grow up playing soccer and he understood this was a limitation for him. And just like his interest in history, he worked at trying to understand the game from multiple perspectives. He would often call to ask my opinion about a situation that arose on the field and he was always willing to talk to players and coaches who felt hard done by him- at least after the match and after they cooled down. I always felt that the one thing that set Dad apart from other referees of his generation was that he was not a man of black and white answers- he understood the truth was to be found in the gray areas in between. While other referees struggled with understanding the written words in the rule book, Dad quickly moved beyond that and into the realm of applying those rules within the gray area known as “in the spirt of the game”.

   Of course, Dad has had a profound influence on many accept of my life. While my love of reading came later than we all wish it had, he has turned me onto many of my favorite authors- we shared a particular love of the murder mystery genre. For years he has given me a subscription to Military History Quarterly, one of the few non-fiction things I’ll read outside of work, and I’ll miss talking to him about whatever article caught my interest- he would always have something more to add to the subject. He taught me how to ski- something I inflicted on own my family. He took me on my first backpacking trip which fired up my continued enthusiasm for the back county, much to my mother’s dismay.

   But it’s as a parent that he has had the most profound impact on my life. As I’m sure you all have heard way too much about, I have two wonderful and near perfect daughters. But even perfect daughters grow up to be sociopaths, I mean teenagers. Whenever I find myself struggling as a patent, I always ask myself, what would Dad do? And here is the answer I keep coming back to- get your ego out of the way and have the courage to allow your children to find their own path through this world; have the faith and confidence in your children to make their own decisions even if they are not make the decision you would like them to make. And above all else, keep an open and loving heart for them to return to in the event they may one day seek out your advice or to just share in your companionship.

   Dad was a good man. He was a fair man, a just man, a patient man, a pragmatic man, a wise man. But most of all, he was man of impeccable integrity who loved his family deeply. Especially his wife. Good fathers last a lifetime- Dad will be with me for rest of my life!

   On a final note, I want to thank the congregation of Cottonwood Presbyterian for the love and support they have shown our mother. Not just now in this time of grief but for the decades that have preceded it. This church has been an important part of Bobbie's life and I thank you all for being a part of it.