Patterico's Pontifications

12/12/2005

Bill V. Frey, 1925-2005

Filed under: Real Life — Patterico @ 6:18 am

Tuesday morning, I never thought I’d finish the day in Fort Worth.

My family was asleep in our Marina del Rey townhome when the phone rang at 5 a.m. That’s never a good sign, especially when you have an elderly father in bad health. Still, we have sometimes gotten calls from fax machines in the middle of the night, and as I raced for the phone, I thought that maybe that’s all it was.

I wish it had been. Instead, we were all on a plane to Fort Worth later that day — to make sure we got into town before the ice storm hit. So that we’d be there for Dad’s funeral.

They tell me that Dad died peacefully, in his sleep. He had been in poor health for years, though he seemed to get worse in the latter part of this year. Earlier in the year, he and Mom traveled to Chicago to meet up with my family, which was vacationing there. We visited the home where I spent the first four years of my life. Here are Mom and Dad in front of that house:

Also this year, we celebrated his 80th birthday. We put a crown on him in honor of the occasion:

It’s good to be the king.

When I saw him at Thanksgiving, he hadn’t been doing well, though he had been doing better at the end of the week. And since then, he had been feeling stronger still — or so it seemed. The last time I talked to him, he said he felt a little weak, but had been doing much better in general.

So getting the call was a bit of a shock. For years, the family had been prepared for this, sort of — but I guess you’re never really prepared when it actually happens.

On Thanksgiving, we had a huge family get-together at my brother Kerry’s house. There were so many children and grandchildren you couldn’t count them. Kerry sang songs on the guitar, and I played a couple myself. Dad made a point of telling all of us children how proud he was of us, and how much he loved us. That’s how he was. He never let us forget how he felt about us.

The service was Saturday. My brother, brothers-in-law, nephew, and I each wore one of Dad’s bow ties. I said that with our dark suits and bow ties, we were going to look like Minister Farrakhan’s messengers. They let me pick out the bow tie I wanted to wear, and the choice was obvious: Dad’s Shamrock bow tie. He was born on St. Patrick’s Day, and when I was a little boy, I also got presents on Dad’s birthday, because my name is Patrick.

I kept the bow tie. I’m not a bow tie guy, but each year on March 17, I will be, for one day.

My family put pictures of Dad on a table in the parish hall. There was a large framed close-up of a young Dad wearing his Navy cap. He was very handsome. There were pictures of him making faces at the camera. Seeing grandchildren for the first time. Holding them. Feeding them. Reading to them.

Playing with them.

Smiling with them.

You could see the love for his children and grandchildren radiating from his face in those pictures. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone whose love for his family was so obvious and genuine.

Dad retired from the Navy as a Commander, and he was entitled to full military honors. Mom decided that Dad would have wanted that, and I know she was right. Just before the gun salute, the silence was broken by the cries of my niece Julia, coming from the nursery. She is famous for her lungs, and it provided some needed comic relief. I was standing right next to Mom when the flag was presented to her along with the traditional statement of presentation:

On behalf of the President of the United States and the Chief of Naval Operations, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your husband’s service to this Country and a grateful Navy. God bless you and this family, and God bless the United States of America.

I could hear Dad’s voice in my head, saying: “That was beautiful.” You could tell he would have loved it. He was very proud of his service.

Afterwards, back at home, we sat around and told stories about him. I hadn’t heard a lot of them. My brother-in-law Johnny said that the day he married my sister Susan, Dad came up to him and welcomed him to the family. He said that he was very happy for Susan, and personally thrilled to have Johnny in the family. Then he told Johnny: “There’s something very important I want you to remember. No refunds, no returns.”

My Dad was a faithful reader of the blog, at least until the end, when it got hard for him to do anything. He never commented, even once, but he read the site every day. It was a big deal to him for me to wish him a Happy Birthday on the site, so I always did. And I know it would have pleased him that I’m writing about him now.

I came home yesterday and sat down and wrote a long post that spilled out all my feelings from the past week. It was too much. You’re reading a severely edited version. I saved the whole thing as a private file. Some day I may want to be able to go back and read it, to remember what I was thinking now.

There’s so much more I want to say, but I can’t now. I want to write something about the kind of man he was. I don’t know if I’m up to it. I know I’m not, yet. And I don’t know if there’s anything I can write that could do him justice.

Dad, if you’re reading this on some computer up there in the sky, you know I love you. You know that I always looked up to you. And we in the family all know that you loved us. You never hid that.

I’ve always said that we should look at every day as Thanksgiving. It’s hard to do that now, but maybe that makes it even more important. So today, Dad, I’m thankful for the time I had to spend with you.

P.S. Here is Dad’s obituary. And here is the guest book where you can leave a comment for the family.

71 Responses to “Bill V. Frey, 1925-2005”

  1. Sorry Patterico.

    Life throws some crummy pitches at times. It does sound like you were close to your dad though, and you can take solace from that.

    One of my most prevalent fears about this sort of thing is I’ll lose someone close and feel like there was some unfinished business, or that I should have given that hug that I didn’t give when I had the opportunity.

    Dwilkers (a1687a)

  2. I’m so sorry to read about your loss, Patterico. Reading your story brought tears to my eyes. It’s obvious your father was a very warm, gentle, and loving man and no doubt his spirit lives on in you.

    May God bless you and your family.

    Sister Toldjah (2e9349)

  3. Patrick,

    I’m sorry and saddened to hear this. Thinking about and praying for you and your family. It was tough to read your post — I can only imagine how difficult it was to write.

    Laudio (06d15b)

  4. Condolences Patterico,

    The man obviously did an excellent job of raising those in his stead, getting you to where you are today. We all owe so much to those who came before, and he certainly did well.

    Joel B. (31d860)

  5. My deepest sympathies on your loss.

    SayUncle (56b6ac)

  6. My condolences, Patterico.

    Your dad sounds like a heck of a guy, and in his willingness to tell his family of his love for you all, he reminds me of my dad.

    Men of our fathers’ generation often were often reluctant to say “I love you,” but not these guys, and you’re right; we can see it in the photos.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and thanks to your father for his military service.

    Rest in peace.

    Mike (e9d57e)

  7. You were blessed to have him as your father. My thoughts, prayer and sympathy are with you.

    Larry

    Larry Bishop (2140ca)

  8. Patrick–

    Our most sincere condolences.

    Sic transit gloria mundi.

    Kazak (ba6bec)

  9. What a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, it must have been difficult to write. It was a privilege to read.

    Susan (1610b4)

  10. Your words and pictures are the most moving remembrance of a father that I’ve seen.

    I’m going over to my folks’ place this weekend to do something I haven’t done in a long time, because it’s always been taken for granted: Give them a big hug and tell them I love them. Thanks for the post, Patterico: It’s been a reminder to do so while I still can.

    Trained Auditor (2bc69b)

  11. God Bless your family.

    Greg (e5d4c1)

  12. [...] Be sure to offer Patterico your condolences on the death of his father. [...]

    damnum absque injuria » Bill v. Frey, 1925-2005 (38c04c)

  13. My condolences. — greg ransom

    PrestoPundit (78edfc)

  14. Having met you and your family, it comes as no surprise to read that your father was as proud of you as you were and are of him.

    We Jews have a saying about the dearly departed: “The memory of the righteous is a blessing.” Your father quite clearly proved the truth of that saying. And then some.

    My condolences for your loss and my best wishes to you and your family.

    Pejman Yousefzadeh (c6fffc)

  15. Deepest condolences, Patrick.

    Kevin Murphy (9982dd)

  16. What a lovely tribute to a well-loved man. It is obvious he will be missed and remembered fondly by many, many people.

    Thank you for sharing this with your readers.

    Words of sympathy coming from someone like me — a total stranger — are really inadequate, but I send them nonetheless, along with my sincere prayers that God’s gracious love and peace will sustain you and the rest of your family as you continue to mourn this great loss.

    Ann in Simi Valley

    Ann (cc9923)

  17. My deepest condolences, Patrick, and best wishes to you and your family. The article is a very moving tribute.

    Steve Levy (331516)

  18. My condolences. What a great guy he clearly was.

    Jay (6b2962)

  19. You did well by your father, Patterico.

    I lost my Dad a few years ago, when he was but 63 (colorectal cancer). I miss him every day.

    I also recognize his birthday, which was November 1, All Saint’s Day. I don’t wear a bow tie, though — I smoke a single Garcia Y Vega cigar. It is about the cruddiest smoke one can possibly imagine, but the smell is so evocative of my father, who smoked them forever, that it triggers a flood of memories. It is really remarkable in that way.

    My father died in 1998, and I did not begin my blog until more than five years later. That is a shame, because I wonder every day what he would have thought of my work. He was a professor of history, a librarian, and a Republican, which made him one heckuva free-thinker. I hope he would have enjoyed it.

    Be well.

    TigerHawk (981793)

  20. I appreciate you sharing the memories. My condolences.

    On Lawn (fb586e)

  21. Patrick,

    Lost my dad six years ago and can appreciate a little of what you’re feeling now. Only good thoughts and best wishes for you and your family during this difficult time.

    Tim McGarry

    Tim McGarry (28419b)

  22. Oh, Patrick, I’m so sorry for your loss.

    My father died eight years ago, December 7. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him and everything he gave to all of us in the family. It’s obvious from your post that your father was just such a man, too. We will carry them in our hearts forever.

    Joan (1f3f15)

  23. Patrick, My deepest sympathy to you and your family.

    Stu707 (0b2aa6)

  24. Deepest condolences, Patterico.

    Justice Frankfurter (2dcd84)

  25. What a great guy. My sympathies to you and your family for your loss.

    DRJ (15ed57)

  26. That’s a very nice online eulogy, and I am sure it did your dad proud. I know how tough it can be to have this kind of thing happen, especially during the holidays. My best to your entire family.

    JVW (54c318)

  27. Yep, thanks for sharing a little bit of your dad in your eulogy. Allows us to appreciate a little bit about his character.

    AMac (b6037f)

  28. Sincere condolences.

    Thanks for sharing your father’s life with us. For those of us younger, may we all strive to be as he was.

    ManlyDad (af1233)

  29. Deepest condolences.

    Yi Ling (303eaa)

  30. Wow. I came over here to this site to check on a Tookie update, and instead see this. I am so sorry, and I send my most sincere condolences to you and your family.

    Brian (b0d240)

  31. From the pics you posted, it looks like the kids have your dad’s smile. But I guess you already know that. My sincere condolences to you and your family.

    TNugent (6128b4)

  32. You and your dad were very fortunate to have each other. It’s wonderful that you’re able to celebrate his life through your blog. Although I sense that even if you didn’t have the blog, you’d find another way. God bless you and your family. This is a tough time of the year to lose someone so beloved.

    Jackie Warner (41f17a)

  33. What a great man. I’m very sorry for your loss.

    See Dubya (01a4f9)

  34. My condolences, Patrick.

    steve sturm (d3e296)

  35. I’m sorry to hear that Patterico.

    Tillman (1cf529)

  36. Congratulations to your Dad for making it to 80! What a whole lot he must have done in four score years. We should all be so lucky! Keep your chin up.

    Andrew (08ba2c)

  37. I am sad for your loss, and happy for the life your father lived. It is clear that the world is a better place for his having been here. The pictures of him and his grandchildren say so much about him and your family.

    Your words about your father brought tears to my eyes. My deepest condolences.

    Dr. Deano (7f152b)

  38. Patterico, my heartfelt condolances! It must be so difficult to suffer the death of a parent. Nevertheless, the pictures you posted show a man who loved and was loved by his family. It’s obvious that you cherished him, and deservedly so.

    I pray that God will surround you with loving family and friends as you deal with your loss, and I pray that the memories of the love your father gave you will never fade.

    God bless, and sending blog-hugs to you and your family!

    – R’cat
    CatHouse Chat

    Romeocat (3fa05a)

  39. The death of a good man

    Patterico’s father has died, and he posts a moving memorial to him: Bill V. Frey, 1925-2005. What a wonderful man! The photos show someone who loved his life and his family deeply, and who will be terrible missed. Please go

    CatHouse Chat (af7df9)

  40. I’m sorry, Patterico. Reading your post made me think that my life is poorer for not having known him. I love that last picture. You really can see the love for his family in his eyes.

    jinnmabe (3eb403)

  41. Condolencies on your loss.
    But you are very fortunate
    to have had your father’s company
    for so many years.

    Boris A.Kupershmidt (998bcd)

  42. There’s not much I could say that hasn’t been said already, Patrick, so take solace in this. Our prayers are with you and your family at this difficult time. May God comfort your heart with the happy memories of the past.

    antimedia (1ec556)

  43. Condolences and congratulations, Pat: condolences on losing your father… but congratulations on having had the good sense to pick an incredible guy like that to be your father in the first place. I know that you, your wife, and your kids all benefitted tremendously from having known him; and I think it’s especially wonderful that he was so proud of you all, too!

    Your dad reminds me a lot of my grandfather. I think they both lived full, rich lives just the way they wanted to do.

    Dafydd

    Dafydd (f8a7be)

  44. Condolences to your family on the loss of beloved member. The love that makes a “family” also makes for great heartache. But it is all worth it! I’m glad you were proud of him and he of you.

    George (05c656)

  45. I’m so sorry. Please accept my condolences.My father was a special man, too, and he died just a few months before yours. Their’s was a truly special generation, and they will be missed.

    OTOH now that I know your name, a quick search turned up an online pic of you–and you were standing with the baby outside the former townhouse of my son (David) and his wife (Judy Iriye). I’m sure I must have crossed paths when I visited without even knowing, and I’m such a fan of yours!

    clarice (c49871)

  46. You have done a wonderful thing for a wonderful man. Best wishes.

    RJN (c3a4a3)

  47. OTOH now that I know your name, a quick search turned up an online pic of you–and you were standing with the baby outside the former townhouse of my son (David) and his wife (Judy Iriye). I’m sure I must have crossed paths when I visited without even knowing, and I’m such a fan of yours!

    That is bizarre! David and Judy who moved down in the street into that fabulous house?! (How big was the Lotto when they hit it??) They are some of the nicest people we have ever met. It was too bad we didn’t get to know them better. How are they?

    This blogging stuff is so odd. The house I am moving into is only 5 doors down from another reader. I have friends all over the place and don’t even know it.

    Patterico (806687)

  48. Patrick,

    I hope you and your family are getting through this period fairly well. Fortunately you have plenty of good memories of your Dad.

    Best wishes, Alex

    Pigilito (0be124)

  49. I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to you and your family. Your father must have been a great guy.

    Mikey

    Mikey (c78100)

  50. Patrick it was a pleasure to spend time with you all at thanksgiving. Just remember Bill will always be with you talking in your ear as he did at the funeral service; remember to pause, listen, thank him for the memories and tell him that you love him and will carry on the tradition of fatherhood that he showed. A better tribute there could never be. Love you all

    Steve (41f27d)

  51. My condolences to you and your family. Those were truely kind and loving rememberences about your father.

    Richard E (bcd580)

  52. Your memories and comments about your Dad are a great tribute. You have touched many people by expressing your love. Your Dad would be proud.
    Chris Yates
    (Patrick’s brother-in-law)

    chris yates (5f2e92)

  53. Your tribute was very touching. My heart goes out to you.

    Dayna (37c317)

  54. A wonderful tribute. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. I lost my sister this morning at 2:00am-e so I know about phone calls in the night.

    Frank Laughter (fec178)

  55. Very nice tribute to your father.

    Peace

    Edward Padgett (ad212e)

  56. Patrick, they are fine. I love the house, too..and I must say they took an enormous risk in undertaking it as does everyone who takes on a major reconstruction job. I know they liked you, too. Perhaps one time when I visit again, we can all get together there. Best wishes.

    clarice (c49871)

  57. Patrick,
    That was an unbelievable tribute to your father. He sounds like an amazing man which explains why you turned out as well as you did. I am so sorry for your loss and I can only imagine what a loss that is based on the man your father was. I hope you take comfort in the fact that he will always be with you, day in and day out. I am here for you if you ever need to talk or commiserate. Sincerely, Andrea

    Andrea Austin (228bbb)

  58. That was beautiful. It sounds like he had a wonderful life, with such a loving family. You are very lucky to have had such a great Dad. My deepest sympathy to you and your family.

    Joanne Adams (22612c)

  59. Patterico-

    Having lost my dad, my own hero, three years ago, I was in tears reading your post about your dad. I smiled when I read about your plans to wear your dad’s bow tie to work on his birthday. I frequently wear my dad’s ties to work even though my wife informs me that they are out of fashion (and probably were even when he was wearing them).

    The pictures of your father at spending time with his grandchildren are marvelous. Your children are lucky to have had the opportunity to meet him and to have the visual reminders of the joy they brought to him.

    I, too, eventually arrived at the only consoling thought: gratitude for the time I was allowed to spend with such an amazing father.

    My own emotions have not let me express my condolences until now, but I am truly sorry for your loss.

    Steve M. (0f514a)

  60. My condolences to you and your family.

    Ith (14b94e)

  61. Patterico,

    I am truly sorry for your loss. Your Dad sounds like a helluva man. You do him proud, too.

    ras (f9de13)

  62. Patrick,

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you, your mom and your family at this time. Your post was touching and a wonderful tribute to your father. It was reminder to give thanks for those close to me in my life.

    Jeff

    Jeff (29f726)

  63. Aw, Patrick! I am so sorry. Clearly he loved dearly and was dearly loved.

    I’ll be praying for you and your family.

    Leslie

    Omnibus Driver (d4af9f)

  64. I’ve been reading this blog for six months and I was really touched by this unpredictable post – being myself an adolescent who had a similar loss three years ago. Needless to say that you did well here. ; )

    My deepest sympathies to your beloved father. I’m sure he is pleased with what you have written.

    João Carlos Nicolini de Morais (5fedaa)

  65. Your dad looked like a very cool guy.

    Thanks for sharing.

    GEAH (061e62)

  66. Patrick:

    Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures! My dad died on Christmas Eve, and photos of him with his grandkids really mean a lot to us at this time.

    May you always have special memories of your papa! He must have been a real blessing in your life.

    God bless you and your family, Patrick

    Dave

    David Reeves (25abc4)

  67. Dear Patrick,

    Thank you for sharing about the passing of your father. He was an admirable and lovely man who lived well. You mentioned giving thanks for the time spent with him. What a privilege to have such a parent! My mother passed on 5 years ago this February a few weeks before her 82nd birthday. There is not a day I don’t remember her in some way and express my thanks for being the blessed recipient of her love and care. I only hope to be such a positive factor in my own children’s lives.

    God bless you and yours.

    Miriam

    Miriam (6135a6)

  68. [...] My dad, who died in December, has been returning to us in our dreams. [...]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » My Dad Returns (421107)

  69. Your father was lucky to have such a fine gentleman for a son.

    Hugo (74b74c)

  70. It sounds like your dad is like my mom’s dad.

    He was killed some ten years ago, but she still finds herself hearing him, or turning around to take notes to tell him.

    Oddly, he was born on flag day, and was also in the service– Army, a guard for Nazi prisoners.

    Thought I did not know him, I morn his passing– he seems like one of the amazing folks. May God permit that you and I both become such people in our old age.

    Foxfier (74f1c8)


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