The following is from long-time VTM Member, blackbeard, whose father passed away last night, in his sleep, after watching his Red Raiders win yet another game. We thank Mr. Jay for his service to our country and for his time representing the scarlet and black. Think good thoughts for one of our own and their family this morning. Rest in peace.
Dad was one of those rare individuals who was able to live out his dreams. Growing up in rural West Texas in the 1920’s and 1930’s, he didn’t have much in the way of material goods, but he did have the American dream. Like many kids his age, he worked when he was not at school and that instilled in him an ethic that he took to his grave. He also had a sincere relationship with God. He fully trusted in Him every day of his life.
The really unique thing about Dad was that there were consistently five things that were most important to him for all the time that I knew him. God, family, farming, friends and football. At various times, one was more important than the other by some degree, but always, those five things were in the forefront.
Dad’s relationship with God was amazing, having gone through the Great Depression, serving in the Pacific and being in the first wave of Marines hitting the beach on Okinawa on Easter Sunday in WWII, and the loss of two wives could certainly have driven him away from God or at least made him question his maker. But Dad always said, "it’s all part of God’s plan, I don’t understand it, but I guess I’m not supposed to." In his last years, Dad was at peace and commented several times as to the richness of his life and truly counted the blessings that God had bestowed upon him. I’m certain that he now sits at the right hand of God.
Family always meant a great deal to Dad. Whether it was his own immediate family or his relatives, there was always a special place in his heart for family. Nothing pleased him more than being in a gathering of family. No matter if it were his parents, cousins, sons and daughter-in-laws or grandkids or great-grandkids, one could see the joy on Dad’s face. A compassionate man, he remained bedside to comfort my mom as she passed and later the same with his second wife. He would do most anything for any family member. You see, he gave from the heart. He didn’t always have much material goods to give, but he was always there for family.
Dad had a dream growing up that he would have a farm or ranch to call his own. With countless hours of hard work he started small and worked a small place south of Abilene – 280 acres. He grew wheat and raised cattle. There was nothing that Dad loved more than sitting atop his horse or in his truck and watching his cattle graze. To him there was no prettier site than watching a herd of Angus grazing in a field of young green wheat. He later was able to sell that place and buy a much larger ranch outside of Noodle, Texas. When he and Mom moved there, they increased the population of Noodle by almost 20%. He would get so excited telling of the improvements he made to the land – clearing, planting, and fencing. To see him be able to live his dream left one in wonderment.
Throughout the years, Dad made so many friends. In his later years he would constantly recall friends growing up, friends from high school and college, friends from the Marine Corps and friends from church. Any friend that he made, he would keep up with. He would tell me that as time passed and his friends passed, it was easier to keep up with them – fewer names to remember. When Dad retired and sold his ranch and moved to Abilene again, he was able to rekindle many older relationships and met with probably his closest friends for coffee every morning at Joe Allen’s. There was no doubt that he was hard hit as probably his best friend, Burl Hambrick passed away. You could just tell that there was a big void. Resilient as ever, Dad forged on and always was able to keep friends and make new ones.
The one great love that Dad had, to the dismay of my mom, was football. Dad played in high school at Sweetwater and later on scholarship at Texas Tech. He was such a fan of any football game, but especially of Texas Tech. Dad loved to recount his playing days, of the train rides from coast to coast and the friends he played with and against. Countless times he would quote Coach Cawthon by saying, "hang on to the ball cause that’s what we plays with" after a Tech fumble. He told a story of one time against Baylor, he recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown – a rare event for a lineman. He was very excited after the game to see mom and celebrate the event. Mom however, had gotten cold during the game and had gone across the street to the movie theater and had missed seeing it. Even at 90 years old, he would drive to the Tech games – even the Spring game. He even told the nurse at the ER last fall to hurry and get him out of there because he had to go see Tech play OU. He was honored by the Texas Tech Double T Association for his undying love and support of Red Raider football in 2011 with the jersey you see here. He would talk endlessly of his playing days, Coach Cawthon, Coach Morgan and was especially fond of Coach Mike Leach. A die hard Red Raider, my dad.
God, family, farming, friends and football – those were the most important things in Dad’s life. Shortly after homecoming….my Matador went home.
Long live our Matador.