Dad had a life-long love of hiking and mountain climbing. Mountains of any type or size held a magnetic attraction for him. As a result, the family has many memories and stories of times with Dad on a mountain.
There was a time when we barely escaped becoming human lighting rods at the top of a 14,000 foot Colorado peak (you can also ask the Edwards about this one).
Or the time when Dad had to “hang back” with a couple of teen girls (same 14,000 foot mountain). The “city slicker” teens were really struggling with the steep terrain and thin mountain air and kept uttering the immortal words… “Are [ gasp] we [ gasp] almost there?” Exasperated, Dad finally answered that it would be 30 more minutes to the top of the mountain. One of the girls turned to the other and said, “Just think, half of Perry Mason and we will be there!”
My personal favorite is what I call “Camping with Mom”. Mom had many wonderful interests but her outdoor interest was gardening not hiking or camping. Dad finally convinced her to go on a short hike followed by an overnight stay in a sleeping bag under a tent somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains . Larry and I were also along (I think Dad needed some pack animals). When we finally arrived and made camp in a mountain pass it was already dark. Next morning very early we awoke in a dense fog with a very close and very loud sound… clank… clank, clank… MOOO! I am pretty sure that was Mom’s last campout!
Dad did not go hiking to get somewhere as much as to drink in the wonder of God’s creation. He had an immense knowledge of birds, flowers, trees, insects, animals, rocks, etc. To a kid, it was like having a walking encyclopedia of flora and fauna as your guide. Of course, his city raised kids were just hoping they would not contact poison ivy or get eaten by a bear.
How many people know what this is? [ Hold up Dad’s slide rule] I know there are a lot of preachers and preacher types here today. Not asking for a show of hands but how many ministers here own a slide rule or a scientific calculator or subscribe to Scientific American magazine? My guess is the number is pretty close to zero.
Dad had real passion for math and science although I don’t know how he worked it into the conversation around the coffee pot before Deacon’s meeting. I can just imagine Dad saying, “Wow did you see that they just discovered that the protons in atoms are made of two Up and one Down quark?”
I would like to quote something from his memoirs:
In 1968 I was invited to participate in the Conference on Religion and Science, sponsored by the Oak Ridge Association of Universities, at the atomic center at Oak Ridge , Tennessee . It was a ten-day affair that boasted three Nobel Prize winners among a galaxy of some of the most competent scientific communicators you would find anywhere. We all knew that it was a propaganda effort on the part of the scientific community to enlist the support of religious leaders throughout the nation for atomic development.
Can you picture this scene at Oak Ridge … a whole room full of “nerd pastors” … Now that had to have been a real fun group!!!
Dad found his interest in science at an early age while in school in Louisiana. Again quoting from his memoirs:
The regional and state "rallies"--competition in each high school academic subject--gave me much stimulus for achievement and love of learning. In my sophomore year I won first place in the state in Algebra, the next year second in Physics and my last year fourth in Chemistry. Hence, my life-long interest in math and science. This is the foundation for the development of my philosophy of science and faith…Once on a family vacation while driving through the straight roads of west Texas he challenged me to a game of "Mental Chess" – that is chess played without benefit of a chess board or pieces. Each player remembers the position of the pieces and the moves made up to that point. Dad probably won (he did when we played with a board) but I still maintain that my Queen was on King-Rook-4.
Several years after Dad retired he embarked on a self-study of calculus just for the fun and challenge it presented. While in Memphis he bartered Greek lessons for Chemistry lessons from a fellow church member who was on the Chemistry faculty of the local college.
Dad believed that all truth whether spiritual or scientific had only one source and that was the God of all life. Dad was ever the scholar regardless of the realm of knowledge.
Dad was not just a lover of music but also a participant in making music. He played trombone in high school and college, sang in the glee club and choir, and played the piano.
He truly loved all kinds of high and low religious music (especially hymns). He loved classical music, marching music, and some big-band music (none of that Rock & Roll that we kids liked).
Dad would sometimes sing with the church choir on special Christmas or Easter programs. He especially loved the Messiah and Elijah choral pieces. He also loved the sound of the organ and would tell the organist, “Don’t be afraid to open it up to full-blast”.
Some of my best musical memories were times when Dad would coax Mom into playing some four-hand piano pieces. Mom was always saying she was out of practice or too busy or something. I would always be amazed at their skill when they sat down at the baby grand piano which was a wedding gift from Dad’s parents.
Dad had a life-long passion for learning, an unquenchable thirst for knowledge of all subjects, and a sincere desire to know the “Mind of God” in both the physical and spiritual worlds.
I don’t know much about what heaven is really like but I bet Dad is learning like crazy. He is probably pestering all angels within 100 light-years with questions on how and why God created the world the way She did. I really hope Dad is finding some time to play a few four-hand piano pieces with a lovely woman he met in Harrisburg , IL.