Thursday, November 6, 2008


My Mom says my dad has a triple A type personality. He’s a guy who is tough to keep up with or keep down. Born the 2nd child of 7 to a ranching turned construction family, he grew up always working hard and became a raucous young man. When my grandfather started the family’s construction business, my dad started helping out when he was 16. My dad worked & paid his way through 2 years of college, but dropped out after meeting & marrying my mom. He did though pay for my Aunt to attend music college since piano & music was her passion. When my dad met my mom, he was into muscle cars & fixing them up. He was also into racing stock cars. I don’t think my mom ever thought that my dad would continue to race stock cars with a family, but my dad raced cars, getting better & better each year & harder and harder to beat, until I was 10, my brother was 8 & my sister 7. When dad was not working in the field on a job site, he was in the shop or on the phone getting crews lined up for the next day’s or week’s work. Outside of the race season, it was also the slow time of year for construction, Dad would spend lots of time with us sledding & pulling us up the sled hill behind a snowmobile. It was the time of year we got to goof off with him. Even when he was so busy with racing & work, I loved every minute of it. I loved to smell the mix of grease, dirt & sweat when he would come in for dinner. I loved going out to the shop to tell him he had a work phone call. I loved the family camping trips around the region with the stock car in tow to watch dad race & we’d all lose our voices screaming at the top of our lungs for him to win. Through the years, dad racked up many wins, series wins, trophy dash trophies, thrilling tales, late nights and heart ache from disagreements with Mom on the amount of money going into the stock car.

When I was 10, my grandfather, my dad’s dad, died in a small plane crash. He had been training another pilot on search & rescue tactics during a search & rescue effort for another downed plane. The other pilot’s plane had a major mechanical engine failure. They both perished in the Cascade Mountains in Washington State in September of 1990. My grandpa had built a private airstrip on the land my grandparents used to raise cattle on. When I was 2 he became a pilot. He had gone on to become the President of the inland northwest chapter of the Washington Pilots Association. With his death, my dad gave up any & all aspirations of racing stock cars ever again. He instead threw all of his energy into getting his pilots license. In January of 1991, my dad became a certified private pilot with Visual Flight Rating (you can only fly in weather when you can see the ground). We loaded up as a family & set off on what was to be the first of many family adventure/vacations in the Cessna Turbo Charged 210.

My dad did many things with his new found passion. He went on to become the vice president & then president of the inland northwest chapter of the Washington Pilots Association (my brother & sister & I all got to help fold, stuff & stamp newsletters to members). Dad also became a volunteer for search & rescue flights. I don’t think he ever turned down when the call came out that someone was missing or a beacon was going off. Dad also became quite the bush pilot & we spent almost every weekend in the summer time flying into a wilderness airstrip for camping & hiking in Idaho, Washington & Montana, but mostly in the Frank Church wilderness area in Idaho. Dad also became an advocate for private pilot use of wilderness airstrips to maintain the public’s ability to access nature & the wilderness areas. He also advocated for responsible use among pilots & other users of the wilderness areas. Dad volunteered annually to organize & fly a group of kids from an orphanage in our town into the wilderness to allow them to experience the beauty of the wilderness areas.

At work, my dad appreciates hard working people, but has a soft spot for people down on their luck. He is always willing to give (almost) anyone a second chance if they can show they are willing to work hard. It’s pretty common for them to employ people with criminal records, prison work release inmates, former drug addicts and alcoholics. Dad tries not to get too involved in their personal lives, but some of the people have now worked for the company for over 30 years & have become dear friends. Some of the people who needed a second chance had young kids at home or with their ex’s that needed support. Dad needed people willing to work hard.

Anyway, that is a just the tiniest bit about my dad. To fill in a few more details, the guy is 6’4” 230 (now – used to be 210), a big social butterfly, a straight talking son of a gun, the most intelligent person I know, a royal pain in the butt, a “crude dude”, a big lovable Dad and my hero from day one. He’s fearless and always has been. He’s always looking for some way to make things better, to go faster or farther without limits. He took up rebuilding old rotted out wood boats in the winter time for something to do. My parent’s now have a big Chris Craft they keep on the coast that he completely rebuilt, rewired & revarnished. He did all the electrical & engine work himself. His latest boat project involves making his own jig & steaming new ribs in the middle of the winter with a home-made stove pipe.