A few facts about my father.
My father, Leroy, was born in Saginaw, Michigan. He grew up in Iowa/Wisconsin with three brothers, one sister. He joined the Navy when he was 19. When he was in the Navy he went to a service at Pacific Garden Mission and became a Christian.
After his Navy stint, he came to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to attend the Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music. He wanted to be a minister or a missionary. He was one of the older students.
When he met my mother, O’Deal, she was dating another guy. She grew up on a farm where her job in the family was cooking, and she was paying her way through school by cooking for all the students. She was an excellent cook. After her second year of school, she decided that she did not want to go back to the farm for the summer. The school allowed her to stay in one of the houses for the summer. Instead of rent, she cleaned the houses on campus. However, she did not receive any money, so she was eating saltines for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
My father found out about this. He was living on his own and working. He said he couldn’t cook, so he asked my mother to cook for him, and he would pay her. When she cooked his meals for him, he said, “I don’t want to eat alone. Would you eat with me?”
Well, the rest is history. He was well fed all summer, and he got the girl as well.
My father never did go into the ministry,but he has been a practicing Christian his entire life. He taught us to examine the scriptures to test whether church teachings were correct or not. He taught Sunday School, served as an usher, and encouraged us all to attend at least one year of Bible School, which we all did.
He worked hard and provided for his family. During the 60s, he suffered through constant cycles of layoffs and rehiring. He finally decided that he needed a steady job to support his growing family. I remember helping him study flashcards with postal codes and cities on the other side for his post office entrance test. He passed the test and started working for the post office around 1970.
That Christmas was the first year that we opened presents at midnight, because of his weird hours at the main Grand Rapids Post office. He worked midnight, odd second shifts and first shifts in order to support his family. Burning the midnight oil paid a higher wage.
My father supported my desire to attend college. Every year, he and my mother would help me lug my worldly possessions up to the third floor at whatever dorm I was living in. When I finally graduated from Michigan State University, he was very proud.
My Dad is 82 now. I love him. Happy Father’s day, Dad.
**This story has a lot of gaps in it. I am sure that my siblings and my parents remember things slightly differently.