My Dad was one of those rare individuals for whom there are no strangers, just friends he hadn’t met yet.
Growing up Peak, this could be a source of frequent embarrassment. Dad would unashamedly start conversations with strangers, people waiting in a common queue, people who clearly didn’t want the attention, anybody. Yet his openness was also the start of many a lifelong friendship, including that of some of you here today. Your coming today honors his values of community. Thank you for being here.
Dad was always proud of being part of something greater than himself – most especially the Coast Guard, or course. His Coast Guard colleagues and classmates were much more than the name implies; they were a band of brothers who together created a generation of honor, loyalty, and, yes, adventure in war as well as in peace. Paul loved you for 73 years. Your being here honors his ideals of patriotism. Thank you for being here.
Dad viewed his assignments and our frequent cross-country transfers as an opportunity to introduce his family to the purple mountain majesties and fruited plains of the America that he loved, to become familiar with our nation’s National Parks and history lands and to maintain connections with friends. Travel did not stop with retirement – together he and Mom explored all 50 state capitals, Europe, Central America. Some of you here today shared those travel experiences. Your being here celebrates Dad’s love of country as well as wanderlust. Thank you for being here.
After retirement, Dad served at the national level of The Retired Officers Association, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Clan Ross Foundation and Palatines to America. And by his own count he was also a member of five historical societies, seven genealogical societies, county genealogical societies in seven states, England and Scotland, plus six Scottish societies and five American lineage societies. And that doesn’t include the Investment Club, the Romeos, the Map Society or Covenant Group or all the activities he participated in here in Vinson Hall. To all of you who knew him from one or more of these organizations, your being here celebrates his enthusiasms and love of life. Thank you for being here.
Paul was brought up in a staunch Methodist family. He and Mom converted to Unitarianism in the late 40s when, he was fond of saying, he noticed that Jane was able to sit through sermons at the Unitarian church without wiggling. To those of you here today who knew Dad from the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Arlington, or one of the 15 other UU churches he and Mom were members of over the years, your being here today honors his spirituality and sense of oneness. Thank you for being here.
Dad was remarkably proud of his family. He was the eldest of four brothers. Ralph and Roy are here today, from Washington State and Idaho. John is at home in California recovering from heart surgery, and we are patching him in by Skype. All three brothers are well represented as well by successive generations. My mother’s sister Jo is here as well from Connecticut. My mother, and my siblings and I, as well as our spouses, Paul’s grandchildren and one great, thank you for coming together in the Peak tradition of celebration this one final time. Your doing so honors Paul’s ideals of family. Thank you for being here.
I have long known just how fortunate I am in both my parents. It wasn’t always easy growing up with two such remarkable role models. The values of family, faith, community, country that both Paul and Jane embody are their legacy to us all. I love them both very much.