I flew into Albuquerque, NM last night, and today (probably while you read this) am making the 3+ hour drive to Farmington in the Four Corners area. It is a very special day, as it is my father's 100th birthday. Most of the family is making the trek to help him mark the occasion. Tomorrow he will be taken a few miles north to Durango, CO, for his official birthday bash.
Bob's father, last April at the age of 99. Yes, he loves Texas Roadhouse and yes, he successfully quaffed that beer.
My father has led a remarkable life, and I am extraordinarily proud to be able to join him for this significant milestone.
Not many people make it to this point in life. His father, my grandfather, hoped to live to 100, but passed away at 98. It's probably because he got remarried at the age of 96. She was 89. He should have known better than to marry a younger woman.
I wonder about the incredible changes my father has seen over his century on this earth. On the day my father was born, Woodrow Wilson was president. World War One (then known as the Great War) ended that year with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Movies were silent, with the first major “talking” film still 8 years away. Man had only achieved flight 16 years earlier. Less than 30% of homes had telephones. The first electronic television wouldn't be invented for another 8 years. The pop-up toaster and short-wave radio were invented in the same year. It was quite a different life than that we know today.
My father was raised by a loving mother and a father who was a strict Baptist minister. Born in Canada, the family moved to the US in 1927; to Harrisonville, Missouri, where my grandfather had taken a position as minister of the First Baptist Church. They remained there until around 1935, when they returned to Canada. My father served in the Canadian Navy during WWII – from 1939 until 1945. He served during the D-Day invasion, supporting US troops landing at Omaha Beach. After the war it was marriage in 1946 and an education in Electrical Engineering from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. After a short career with General Electric Canada, he was recruited by RCA, and moved to the United States in 1953.
He and my mother never looked back.
At RCA he oversaw development of microwave defense and communication systems. He traveled the world extensively as part of that job. Eventually my parents decided to strike out on their own in business. They sold their home, cashed in his pension and made the move from New Jersey to Durango, CO in 1971, where they purchased the Silver Spur Motel, Restaurant and Lounge. Life certainly changed for all of us with that move, but it was a time that gave me more exposure and a better life education than I ever would have had without it. I did not appreciate it at the time as I was just 10 years old, but my father made that move at the age of 51. He had two kids in college and two more coming along. It was gutsy through and through. No, I did not know it then, but as I wrote on his 99th birthday, my father was Iron Balls McGinty.
And today he is 100 years old. The tenacity that made him a success in business has carried him through these many years. He was still driving and working up until a fall last January put him in a wheelchair. There are not many 99-year-old men who can lay claim to that record.
Today he has a private room in a small nursing facility and is doing great. He is happy and likes the people who care for him. He says they like him because he “doesn't complain.” His attitude today is as impressive as the life he has lived.
I look forward to celebrating this day with my father. It will be an honor to do so.
Happy Birthday, Dad, and thank you.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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