Remembering My Dad

At Kolob Canyon
Elaine and Dad at Kolob Canyon, 2013

On October 18, 2013 my dad passed away. It’s been difficult to think about ‘normal’ life when suddenly my life is completely different.  I still work and sleep and shop for groceries, but something is missing.  Someone who has been with me from the very beginning.  I feel like a perennial that’s been divided, part of me is gone.  But I can tell I’m still growing.  Going into a winter rest, needing some time for reflection and quiet.  I want to sleep longer, breathe deeper and read long works of fiction.  I’ve been in the habit of leaving flowers in unexpected places, it makes me happy. I like walking by a pine tree and seeing a ruffled rose peeking out.  Some people prefer plants in their natural state, and I don’t mind that, but I also like the unpredictable, the wonderful.  This quote by J.G. Ballard begins to explain it:

I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world, to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen.

Tony 3 years old
Growing up in Brooklyn, NY

My imagination is my own worst enemy as well as my very best friend.  It haunts me with memories as well as teases me with dreams.  I believe that my imagination is a gift and an inspiration, beginning in my early years and learned from my parents.  It was my dad that inspired me with a love for the natural world and science as well as a passion for learning.

Anthony DelPrete Jr. comes from a great Italian heritage. He was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1935 to Antonio DelPrete and Josephine Lombardi and later graduated from High School in Amityville, NY.  Even though he was an only child, Tony was always surrounded by a large Italian family who enjoyed time together and knew what a good meatball was.  He carried these traits with him throughout his life with his love of good food and family.  He always made an effort to be with his family, even as his children grew up and moved across the United States and all the way to New Zealand.  He taught us the importance of family, not with his words, but with his deeds.  He didn’t talk a lot, but what he had to say was always worth listening to.  His sense of humor and intellect made him a great conversationalist.

Our Italian Dinner at Bucca de Beppo
Our Favorite, A Big Italian Dinner 2013

Tony loved to learn and this continued throughout his life.  He received his Bachelors and Masters degree in Geology from the Missouri School of Mines, studied Oceanography at the University of Washington in 1966 and eventually went on to earn a Ph.D in Geology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York.  He was hired to teach geology and oceanography at the State University of New York at Oswego and spent his entire career there, retiring in 1997.

One of Tony’s favorite hobbies was trains.  He almost always had a model railroad set up in his garage or basement.  He watched I Love Toy Trains on TV and he loved to travel by Train.  Together he and Gloria rode all over the west and beyond on Amtrack and they even have a small collection of Amtrack spoons to prove it.

Tony in Korea
Tony in Korea 1956

Tony had many life experiences.  He served in the United States Army for two years during the Korean War and served as a radio operator for a year in Korea.  When he and Gloria retired to St. George in 1997, they began Geocaching.  They found over 2000 geocaches all over the world, from Budapest to Ecuador and even created over 80 of their own.  Tony loved puzzles and codes and relished the challenge of figuring out these hidden geocaches.  He and Glory went by the handle TonyGlo and always enjoyed making new geocache friends.

Tony was a world traveler.  Whether it was by train, airplane, boat or car, he always had a trip in the plans.  He traveled from China to Europe, around Cape Horn and even to New Zealand, just last year.  He also enjoyed driving a nice car and watching formula one racing with his friends.  He always taught us ‘don’t drive in the left hand lane, it’s for passing!’

He treasured learning.  Besides teaching at a university for many years, he was a lifelong reader and usually enrolled in adult education classes.  He was the only person I ever knew who watched the national spelling bee on cable TV.  He always loved old movies, especially old sci fi movies.  He got a kick out of watching the classic Plan 9 from Outer Space, possibly one of the worst movies of all time.

Peace Rose
Peace Rose

Tony always said that the song he wanted played at his funeral was ‘I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden’. We laughed when we heard this, but as we listened to the

words, we understood. It talks about life.  Along with the good times, there are the bad times.  We can’t stop that or change that, but we can change ourselves.  We can choose to be happy.  We can live and let live.  That was Tony’s motto.  No matter the trials in life, he was usually smiling.  Even though full of fun, he was humble, thinking about others more than himself.  He chose to be happy, which in turn spread joy to those around him.

Dad, Elaine, Mike and Chris
Dad and His Kids

Although not a man of traditional faith, Tony was full of faith.  Faith in the future, faith in his friends, faith in our country and faith in his family.  We know that faith is not a perfect knowledge, but a hope for things that are not seen but are true.  Tony had this faith.  He had a perfect brightness of hope and a love for those around him.  As he battled with health for the last several years, he was an example to all of us with his hope and optimism.  He didn’t surround himself with raindrops but rather with roses.  We love him and will miss him.

Geocacher and Geologist
Geocacher and Geologist

11 thoughts on “Remembering My Dad

  1. I am so sorry to hear of your loss….the loss of a parent is heart wrenching. It does leave a whole that never fills in…I don’t think I knew your family lived in my area, but maybe I did. Did you grow up in Oswego?

    I am sending you hugs and healing light in hopes that you will be able to see the spring and smell the roses soon…those lovely memories will carry you through as his love for you will never fade from your life. A lovely loving tribute to a wonderful man!

  2. Aw Elaine, this is just beautiful, full of love and the sweetness of loss turned into remembrance. I can see where your inner beauty and love for life is generated from. I think you inherited a great deal from Tony. I’ll put a rose on a pine tree for you and your family.

  3. Thanks B, that means a lot! Yes Donna, I was born in Oswego and lived in the general area until I was 12, then we started moving all over the country and finally settled in the Northwest. Good memories of Upstate New York!

  4. A beautiful remembrance, Elaine. No matter our age, when we lose a parent we feel a little wobbly on our feet. We now have to face life without the support we have known since babyhood. I am sorry for your loss.

  5. So sorry Elaine…my mother died 2 1/2 years ago and she is the reason that I became a gardener as a child…so I understand and appreciate your ‘perennial that’s been divided’ thought…you do never get over it but it does get easier. It just becomes part of you in the way that he was part of you. All best, Sara

  6. Elaine, you have written a beautiful piece on a beautiful man and father. I feel as if I have a true sense of what your father was like. In other words, I can imagine him very easily and this is due to your wonderful writing. I feel for you as you go through this time of loss/grief but I think you are well equipped to keep the cherished memories and moments of your father very much alive in your head and heart.

  7. Elaine, what a beautiful tribute to your father. Your words captured so much of the man — and I even had to smile because we could have been neighbors. I work in the next town from Amityville. Please know that his spirit lives on in so many ways. You’re in my thoughts and prayers. Be well.

  8. Elaine, I’m so sorry for your loss! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your loving tribute to your dear Father–it sounds like your Dad was a remarkable man. I’m sad that I never got to meet him but I see so many of the traits & attributes you recognized in your Dad in YOU, so maybe in a way, I have met him thru you!

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