Later, of course, if you will recall, I was assigned to teach at Iowa State and in the fall of 1950 Dad came down to visit with Mother. Of course Bea had all the food that he liked lined up, and you know how he liked good food. He was there for Friday night and Saturday was drill morning. He watched me put the midshipmen through their paces, then Saturday afternoon, after dinner as you people call it, I had to go back and see that everything was squared away in the Armory. Of course, the Armory was my responsibility and Dad went with me. I unlocked the door and we walked in and Dad just stood in the doorway. He looked around, and then of course there were these long rows of rifles. Up on the shelves were the machine guns and the mortars; fastened against the wall were the rifle grenades and the mortar shells and all of the accessories. Dad looked at all of these things very carefully and then he said, “All of this is to kill people.” I could tell he still wasn’t convinced that there wasn’t a better way to defend the country than to have a strong armed force. And so we started talking and I explained many things to him: how a mortar shell was fired; the adjustments you made and the readings you took off the sight to get the proper angle to get the mortar shell to drop where you wanted it; how the shape charge worked in the rifle grenades; how the option was achieved in the M-1 rifle through the use of expanding powder gases and the tactical use of all these weapons; how to use machine guns and mortars together to lay down a final protective fire in front of your position and all of these things and he listened very, very carefully for several hours. Then we walked to another area of the Armory where there were these long book shelves, and on these book shelves were long rows of field manuals. In fact, there was a field manual for every weapon. Dad looked at them for a moment and said, “I guess you know what’s in these manuals.”
“Yes Dad, I know almost every word in these manuals,” I replied. “Well,” he said, “there’s a lot to your profession.” I think he had finally came to understand that there is no short cut in the defense of the country. Well, in any case, we had a good time. We had a lot of good food and I was very happy with him.
That was in the summer of 1950, late in the fall of 1950 in fact. Then next winter in February Max and Isabel had a birthday party for him when they were living in Matawan, if you recall. And Dad had changed. His skin was a very gray color, and it seemed to hurt him so much to move, just to move. I told Bea, “I’m going home.” I said, “There’s something seriously wrong with Dad.” Well, I don’t have to tell you about his illness. Of course, during his illness he was surrounded by his family and his many, many friends. In a way I guess you might say that Dad’s passing was sad because leukemia had cut him down before his time. He was still slender and quite active. He enjoyed life and had just retired from the farm. I think he was enjoying life a great deal so, in a way, so it was a tragedy. But then again, I think of his funeral. I can remember we’re all sitting out there on the grass in the yard of the old home place, and whoever made the decision to hold the funeral there was certainly very much right: I remember listening to the wind blowing in the lilac bushes. It sounded just as it did long ago when I was a tiny little kid. I remember all the people that came to the funeral in all the cars and then, when we drove to the cemetery, despite the fact that it was a beautiful June day in the middle of the week. And I watched as we drove to New Richland and I looked over the fields. There was not one farmer working in all of those dozens of farms we drove by on the way to the cemetery. This was all out of respect for our father, and if he could have realized this he would have appreciated it, because I think our father was a man who believed in right for right’s sake. Respect to him would have been worth more than almost anything. The fact that he was this much respected in this community would have made him very happy. The fact that he was this kind of a man; that he believed in right for right’s sake and this is the way he led his life. I can think of no higher tribute that I can pay him.