I made it back from the funeral late Monday evening but was glad that I was able to attend it. For a day, I spent in close proximity to a score of friends who came to his funeral that had nothing but positive things to say about him. It was refreshing.
My uncle married his wife in 1956 though no one present at the funeral knew just how they met. She suffered from some force of scoliosis that crippled her severely but my Uncle fell in love with her just the same. Unfortunately, she died from her ailments five years later which everyone agrees is what caused my Uncle to dip into depression at times. He never remarried and instead focused the rest of his life to his church.
I learned a few things about him at the funeral which I thought I would share on here. Though my Uncle always told me he served on the U.S.S. Iowa, and I suppose that was the truth, he actually served on several ships of the same class including the U.S.S. Washington seen at the head of this post. He evidently thrived in the military and worked his way up quickly to become an aid to the navy admiral which mean that where ever the admiral went, so did my uncle and hence, why he served on more than one ship. One young lady who had befriended him and interviewed him about his war stories, told how he had to transfer between ships in a basket suspended on a cable between them. She also said that she had many more stories that she had transcribed and has promised me she would email them to me as soon as she was able. I look forward to them and perhaps I'll share some of them on here. One more thing to note on my Uncle's military career is that at some point he crossed the equator for the first time and received the below certificate. Unfortunately a camera phone and poor lighting of the funeral settings made it not turn out the best.
We held visitation which allowed our family to meet the family of his wife whom none of us had ever met. Even after his wife died, he loved her so much that he stayed in close contact with her family, including nieces and nephews for the rest of his days. I got a kick over the fact that everyone related to him referred to him as Uncle Keith. The funeral was nice and then after a soup and sandwich lunch, we drove to the cemetery where his wife had been buried fifty one years earlier. Unfortunately, hurricane Sandy was whipping stiff chilly winds so the funeral was short and sweet before we retreated back to our cars. Two navy officers were there to perform their ceremony and I am most impressed with them. Despite the fifty mile and hour winds, they were able to still fold the flag right smartly.
As the family genealogist, I am now sorting through all the things that I learned, photographed or trying to answer questions asked that nobody knew the answers. It has been a labor of love and I wouldn't have it any other way. So my uncle is now home with his beloved wife and everything is right in this world again. Where I was saddened this weekend, I am happy for him now. I'm glad that I had nearly four decades to spend with him before he left. I am also thankful that of those four decades, the closest person to me in my family to pass has been a great uncle. Not many can say that.