Obituary notices aren’t the best at giving a picture of the person. They’re designed to give just basic information – date of birth and death, relatives and the time of the service. I wanted to give you a picture of my dad by telling you some of the things that were not in the obituary.
1. The Shot
Dad didn’t feel right when some of his friends were serving in the military during the Korean War, so he decided to enlist. His father told him he could join anybody except the Marines. So, Dad enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, and was proud to have served. He was on the base basketball team in Barstow, California. In one game, his team had a big lead as halftime approached. With seconds to go they had an inbounds pass after the other team scored. Dad stood in the corner of the court as far from his basket as possible. They passed the ball into Dad; he threw up a shot and scored. Dad always ended this story by telling us that he had the record for the longest shot ever in a basketball game and his record couldn’t be broken.
2. The Politician
Dad was active in Democratic politics. In 1963, he ran for Mayor of Bloomington. In a Republican city, he drew 49.25% of the vote and lost by only 165 votes. His opponent’s daughter had been crowned Miss Minnesota just before the election. Dad said to me once that after he told Calvin Griffin that the Twins should pay for their own sewer connections at Met Stadium that Calvin started contributing a lot of money to his opponent. He also ran for the state legislature. I remember seeing his signs up in many yards. They were black and bright green and one side read “Kane Cares.” We kids were pulled in to help with delivering campaign literature to houses. It was a job we were used to having helped Bob Hoffman with his run for city council. After that Dad didn’t run again. Although one Sunday after church he was approached to run for Bloomington city council. I was there and heard his answer. He asked, “Isn’t Tom Spies running?” When told that Tom was running as an independent Dad said, “I don’t want to run against Tom, he’s a good man.”
3. The Network
This is before the term networking existed as it does now. When I was young, it used to seem that every time I went anywhere with Dad we would meet someone he knew and Dad would stop to talk with them. I felt like everybody knew my Dad.
4. The Coach
Dad coached in the BAA (Bloomington Athletic Association) with young kids. He coached me in baseball and basketball even though I was thoroughly uncoordinated and not a good athlete. He was positive with me, teaching me to bunt to get on base and praising my passing ability in basketball. He also coached football with Bob Hoffman. They went undefeated for 8 years. Dad used to doodle offensive plays on napkins and envelopes.
5. The Smoker
Dad used to smoke. Mostly he smoked pipes. One of the newspaper articles that appeared when he was running for Mayor said that he had over 150 pipes which was one for every organization where he had volunteered. After his doctor told him if he didn’t quit he’d die young dad gave up smoking cold turkey. I was in a mall with him and walking by a tobacco shop, Dad paused and took in a deep breath and sighed. “Every time I walk by a tobacco shop I want to start up again.” The winter he stopped is remembered by the family as the year he made bread. To take his mind off smoking he made banana bread, pumpkin bread, cranberry walnut bread. Then spring came and he stopped making bread and worked outside planting roses. He loved roses and loved giving them and having them.
6. The Minnesota Teen Corps
Dad enjoyed working with young people. His time with the Minnesota Teen Corps was an exciting time. Teen Corps did service projects at summer camps around Minnesota and also sent toys to Appalachia every year for people in poverty. It was a source of pride to Dad that Teen Corps alumni went on to work in social work all over the country and even internationally. There is a house that was named in Dad’s honor at a facility in France.
7. The YES Man
Dad was instrumental in the formation of the YES or Youth Emergency Services which was a hotline for people in trouble. It wasn’t uncommon for Dad to receive a phone call at home with a person in trouble who was feeling suicidal. What was the byproduct of those calls? We’ll never know for sure.
8. The Family Man
Several people have mentioned to me that the regarded Dad as a father figure. And that’s the way Dad was. He was universally accepting and supportive of people. Over my life I’ve come to realize that family is more than just your relatives. You also have the family of people you choose to have in your life. That comes from my parents. I am blessed to have been a part of my family. There’s no drama at holidays, we all like each other and have a good time together. That’s the family my parents built.
9. The Love Story
Mom was the love of Dad’s life. They celebrated 64 years of marriage 4 days after Dad entered hospice. Dad told me that when he had to buy greeting cards the only times he would actually read the card he was getting was if it was for Mom. (Although, later in life he would read the joke cards. He was the one who started the family tradition of getting nasty birthday cards about how old we were and then signing someone else’s name to the card.) Debbie and I took Mom and Dad out to dinner for their 40th anniversary. We went out to Khan’s Mongolian Barbeque. Khan’s has a buffet where you can put meat and vegetables on your plate and then they will cook it up for you. When Dad came back to the table after having been through this he had a plate that was all meat. Afterwards we opened our fortune cookies up. This was the only time in my life that I saw a repeat on fortunes. Mom and Dad both got the same fortune. “You have a tremendous capacity for enjoying life.”
10. The Death
Dad was in severe pain for a long time prior to his death. While it’s not good that he’s gone it is good that he’s no longer in pain and has been reunited with his parents and siblings. He fell and broke his pelvis and then developed pneumonia. He entered hospice care and we took him home from the hospital. In his time at home every one of his children and their spouses, every grandchild and their spouses, and every great-grandchild was able to visit him and say goodbye. A member of the military came to give Dad a pin and thank him for his service to the country. For several days after that Dad did not open his eyes. They told us that he could go at any time. On Sunday with several of the family present he made an effort and opened his eyes. My mother held his face in her hands and they gazed at each other until he was gone.
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