Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

This would probably be a good day to talk about Clay's dad. Let's start with one of my favorite pictures (I think this was taken during his Abraham Lincoln phase -- probably around 1987). Almost every picture of dad in our photo albums is either of him holding a baby or on the floor playing with one of the kids.
That says a lot, doesn't it?

Here is an abridged version of his obituary. (As goes with most things in this family, it took 4 people and three weeks to write this.)

Dale E. Coons, 76, died Tuesday, April 8, 2008 at Mercy Hospital in Canton, OH.

Born July 18, 1931 and raised in rural Indiana, he was the 2nd oldest of 10 children born to Earl Clayton and Mildred Violetta (Woodmansee) Coons. He married Shirley Ann Mulaire on November 23, 1958 in Waltham, MA. They are parents of 3 children; Clay, Corinne, and Leslie , 5 grandchildren; Sarah, Maggie, Will, Ian and Sydney and 2 Great-grandchildren; Tommy and Nate.

He graduated from Avon High School then served in the US Navy during the Korean War. He attended Purdue University before graduating from Butler University. He taught at Wood High School in Indianapolis and earned his Master’s Degree and PhD from Indiana University. He taught at Peabody College in Nashville, TN and the University of Akron in Akron, OH where he retired in 1995 as Professor Emeritus of Special Education.
He enjoyed working with handicapped children at Wood High School and served as Troop Leader of the first all special needs Boy Scout troop in Indiana and helped organize Indiana’s first Special Olympics in 1968. Dale taught at Peabody from 1969-1973 in the Special Education department and advised many doctoral students. He and his family spent those summers at the Kentucky Easter Seals Camp KYSOC in Carollton, KY where served as Camp Director. His work in support of special needs children continued at the University of Akron; in addition to teaching, he served as advisor to many more doctoral students who will continue his legacy of compassion and helping the handicapped. He served as director of Kvam’s Kinder Kamp in Wadsworth, OH from 1980 until the camp closed in 1990 and was honored as Ohio’s Special Educator of the Year in 1993.
Dale always enjoyed being active outside and spent many years coaching softball, in addition to hiking and riding his bike in the Cuyahoga Valley Recreational Area. After his retirement he played Silver League Softball and tennis and won a bronze medal in Ohio’s Senior Olympics. He enjoyed gardening, whether it was his tomatoes in the back yard or the flowers in the boulevard. He was involved in local community theater for many years including Coach House, Stow Players, and Weathervane and enjoyed set design and construction as well as acting, much to the chagrin of his family. Should friends desire, and in lieu of flowers, the family gratefully and respectfully requests that memorials be made to the Cuyahoga Valley Recreation Area or the Easter Seals’ Foundation.
The thing his obituary doesn't say is just how much he loved his family. Oh, he drove them crazy, but he would also drive them across the country to a new college or job, haul all their stuff along, then stay to fix up their apartment or house a little (we have nice big shelves in our garage, courtesy of dad). He was a country boy who insisted on doing everything himself, from car repair to plumbing to re-roofing the house. Sometimes his projects ended in disaster, or a trip to the emergency room; mom's favorite line was, "Damn it Dale, you don't have a PhD in the WORLD."
Clay likes to tell the story of how dad embarrassed him when they went to visit Purdue for the first time. After lunch, dad toured the campus with a toothpick hanging out of his mouth.
"Dad, you look like a hick."
Honestly, I think dad liked it that way.
When Clay graduated, mom and dad bought him his class ring; when dad was filling out the paper work, he made a little error, and his name was engraved inside Clay's ring. Clay never had it changed -- I think he liked it that way.
Dad loved mom, he loved his kids, he loved my kids.
He set the bar high, as an example of what a husband and father should be, and I love him for that.
And because I am missing my own daddy today, here's a favorite picture of him, with Sarah:
And because I am missing Clay today, since he is somewhere in China, here are two favorite pictures of him:
In the big orange chair
On the big plastic couch, after Maggie's baptism --they both slept best that way

Peace to fathers everywhere.

1 comment:

  1. Such wonderful men in your life - thank you for sharing!

    Hugs - I missed you when I lost my internet...