Monday, April 20, 2015

The passing of my father, a quiet good man

My dad died today, about a month short of his 96th birthday.  It came after a brief downturn in his health, and the proximate cause was pneumonia.  Until several days ago, he lived alone and took care of himself.
Since the death of Mom several years ago, his answer to my weekly query as to how he was doing was always, "Well, I'm still here."  He was ready to check out and be with Mom.
Dad was raised with his eight siblings on a farm in Burlington, Wyoming, a small, dry town east of Cody. His mother died when he was nine years old, and his sisters took over raising the family.
After active duty during WWII, he worked as a civilian for the Army employing his engineering degree from the University of Wyoming.  For many years, he was the Chief of the Mechanical Research and Development Lab at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia.
That's a pretty dry description of a hard-working, kind man, who took his commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ very seriously.  Dad served as the first Recorder in the Washington, DC LDS temple, and then in the presidency of that temple, serving nineteen years in total.  Many times I would find him seated in the living room, quietly reading the scriptures.
My father was the most honest, straightforward person I have known closely.  The things that I did, or didn't do growing up were based largely on my desire to not disappoint him.  There are small things that I hope I remember forever; falling asleep on the back seat of the '54 Ford as he drove home in the dark with the radio playing big band music, the care with which he outfitted me at a camping store before my first Scout outing, waiting with him at a service station while the car was up on the lift and asking for a candy bar...
I will miss my father.  However, if I arrive at the end of this stage of existence in as good shape concerning the things that really matter, I will call it a win.


Patricia said...

Dear President Henderson,
I am so sorry to hear of your father's passing. I am sure it was difficult for you being so far away.
I was touched by your tribute to him. May the Lord sustain you and buoy you up and especially keep you and Paula safe and well.
Pat and Doug Lowe

Patti said...

I am sorry to hear about your father passing away. I am grateful for the few times our paths crossed. He is an excellent man. Hugs to you and Paula.

Anonymous said...

President Henderson,

For a long time I have been following this blog. It's always a highlight in my day when a new blog is posted. This post really touched me. I was saddened by your loss, but lifted by your obvious love for your father. The last line, "I'll call it a win", is the best possible tribute a son can make to his dad.
God bless you and strengthen you.

Darwin & Vicki Stull

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear of your loss. What a wonderful tribute. Your family is in our prayers.
Tony and Anne Campbell

Randy and Leslie Reese said...

Dave and Paula,
We offer our sincere condolences on the passing of your father. He was a great man and raised a wonderful family. He is reunited with his special sweetheart and take comfort in knowing that you are serving the Lord as he would have it. You are in our prayers.
Love, Randy and Leslie

Hafen Haven said...

What a beautiful tribute to your father. Though we have never met your father, we are grateful for the son he raised to be the Mission President for our daughter. Our thoughts and prayers go out to your family.

Travis and Jilynne Hafen and Family (family of Hermana Sage Valentine Hafen)

Barbel said...

Hello Dave and Paula.

We are so sorry to hear of the passing of your father. What a beautiful piece you wrote about him and your fond memories. It must have been hard to be so far away. W enjoy reading your blog. You're both such an inspiration for us. We hope that we may serve a mission later in life and serve The Lord.

Barbel & Brian.