Since June is the month we celebrate Father’s Day – I decided to share something I wrote last year but felt it was worth sharing again – this time with a few pictures.

Many of us can say our dads were great guys. We admire them, we love them, and if they have passed away – we miss them.

Others can tell you who the father-figure was in their life – and know what a difference that man made in their growing-up years.

When we are asked what our greatest childhood memories are – we know we have been blessed when we can point to a man we loved and who loved us back.     

My dad had written about his military experience and included information about his written notification to show up for a physical at the Bryan, Ohio American Legion Hall at 8 am on Saturday, January 8, 1941.  

I found the postcard he was talking about – it is dated January 24th and was from the Selective Service. The return address is stamped with “Local Board #1. Williams County. Bryan, Ohio”

It was addressed to Vernon Lee Kimpel, Edgerton Ohio.  I was disappointed the card did not have an address, for I wanted to know where he was living at the time. Apparently the postman knew how to find him and delivered the little card.

The notification included the words “Failure to do so is an act punishable by imprisonment and fine, and may also result in your losing valuable rights and your immediate induction into military services.” The postcard was signed by Dewey H. Beach, Member of Local Board.

On his 100th birthday, which fell on a Saturday in September of 2019, I shared these thoughts on Facebook:  

On Thursday morning, I was driving to a work appointment when it occurred to me that my dad’s birthday is in two days – and he would have been 100 years old. His birth year was always easy to remember because it was 1919.

I also remembered my parents went on their first date on the eve of my dad’s birthday – in September of 1946. It was a double date. My Aunt Verda and Uncle Alfred were single at the time, and they were going on a date to the county fair. And my mom wanted to go to the fair with them.

Alfred went uptown in Edgerton to see if he could find a guy who was free to go on a date with his girlfriend’s sister. And Uncle Alfred located my dad in a local bar.

So off the four of them went – on a Friday night – to the county fair. The same fair is happening as I write this – on Saturday the 14th of September in the little town of Montpelier where my husband and I have lived and raised our daughters.

According to my mom’s diary, she and my dad had great fun dating and planning their wedding.

They were married a year after they met, raised 11 children in the same house they had purchased in 1947, and they celebrated 60 years of marriage before my dad passed away at the age of 88 in 2008.

As I was remembering all of this, that song came on the radio – that Tauren Wells’ song – where he sings about God not being done writing your story. I had just found my dad’s hand-written notes where he had documented the story of his WWII experiences. So that song has been following me around a bit – but that’s ok.  

I was left realizing my dad’s 100th birthday was in two days, and I ought to take the opportunity to write about him – especially since I had found his papers  just three days ago when I was sorting through a trunk at my parents’ home.

He wrote his experiences on 11 papers that are now fragile and yellowed with age. The pages are dated 11-24-1966, and he was 47 years old at the time he recorded his story.

That means he had been home for 20 years before he took pencil to paper and left his experiences documented for us to find.

My oldest brother Ed knew Dad had written these pages, and Ed knows a lot about what Dad had been through. All I really knew was Dad was in the service for nearly five years. I knew my dad was one of six sons who Grandma and Grandpa Kimpel had to send off to the service.

And I knew Dad’s brother Gordon was a pilot and had died in a plane crash.

Dad was close to Gordon. The ring my dad wore in his later years was Gordon’s Air Force ring. I had also heard that Gordon was a very attractive man. His photos are proof of that.

Gordon had been engaged and planned to marry his fiancée Marcella after the war.

I always felt a little sorrow in that I had an uncle I didn’t get to know. And my Aunt Maxine had passed away before I was born. As many cousins as I have – I always knew I could have had more. It is so easy to love your cousins. You can never have too much fun or create too many good memories with cousins.

When I count my blessings – I get to count 44 first cousins. And it’s also wonderful to be able to claim so many 2nd and 3rd cousins.

I didn’t know many details about Dad’s days in the service, but I do remember he spoke about two beautiful harbors – one being in Australia and the other was the Los Angeles harbor.

This is what he wrote about coming home in November of ‘45:

“The night before we were to arrive on the west coast in the morning, the ship speaker system reported we would be able to see the lights of L.A. at about 3 am in the morning. I said I’m going to see this and many boys said be sure to wake me up and I did wake many.

You could never live to see a more spectacular site in the world if you lived forever. It was something I will never forget, as we arrived in San Pedro harbor at L.A. Many ships were welcoming us in and the bands were playing.

Immediately we boarded a train for Camp Atterbury Indiana, near Indianapolis. I was discharged on November 10th, and arrived home on November 12, 1945 after 4 years, 7 months, and 22 days of service.” 

My dad was known for his ability to fix things. He worked in heating, plumbing, and wiring for 60 some years. When people in Edgerton needed to speak with someone who would know how to fix something, as well as let them borrow the tool to get it done – it was my dad.

I have to admit I always did know dad was a very capable guy – very resourceful and knowledgeable to a lot of subjects. 

He had written 10 pages that were together in the trunk. At the end of the 10th page, he wrote:

“On my army wages I managed to send home and my mother banked for me over $1,200.00 for when I did get home. It was nice to have. The End. Vernon L. Kimpel. 47 years of age.”

In a separate folder within that trunk, I found an 11th page – in which he wrote:

“One other note – October 4, 1947 I married a fine young woman, namely Ruth M. Imm, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Imm. We now have 6 lovely daughters and 4 fine sons. All in good health and good children. Ranging in age from 14 months the youngest to 18 years the oldest. Now the end again.”

Steven was born in 1969 – a little more than two years after he had written about his children. I remember when my dad came home from the hospital after he and Mom had been told of Steven’s diagnosis of Down syndrome.

Dad stood in the kitchen and had the best way of telling us – he did make me understand that Steven was going to be needy, and my new little brother was going to have to go to a different school. But he also told us that Steven was special.

I think Dad didn’t know we were going to take the ball and run with that one.  I remember thinking he wasn’t just a little special – he was very special. I couldn’t wait for Mom to bring that baby home.

I look back on this and realize I had been given the assignment of loving my little brother even more than you are to love a little brother, because he was special. He was going to be needy, and he was going to need his older brothers and sisters to really love on him and take care of him.

Steven was born on a Wednesday, and Dad drove all the children to the hospital that weekend. Those were the days when the kids loaded up in the station wagon. No seatbelts. Just everyone pile in. And children were not allowed in the hospital – so we stood outside on the hospital lawn. The nurse lifted Steven up to the window for us to see him – and his diaper fell off.

That was the first time Steven made his brothers and sisters laugh.

Mom and Dad had been advised by a ‘specialist’ that Steven’s older brothers and sisters would not accept him, and they should put him in an institution.  I think my parents found out Steven was not only accepted by his family, the entire community has always stepped up to care for him in so many ways.  

When I heard Dad talk about his own life, I really think he didn’t have an easy life, but he could speak with fondness about some things that would seem a hardship to the rest of us. Dad was one of ten brothers growing up in the same home.  So those boys could tell unique and somewhat adventurous stories. And he had two sisters who he spoke so fondly of.

I do know they had to learn how to live off the land. And that made them great teachers to the next generation.

It seems he had a way of stepping away from problems and quickly moving on to the answer – and that was one of the qualities that made him a great father and grandfather to so many.

My dad admitted to one area of life he just couldn’t be of any assistance – and that was diaper changing. Dad was the first one to get his hands on a new baby in the family as well as the first one to give up the baby at the slightest mention of the need for a diaper change. Dad claims he never once, in his 88 years of life, changed a diaper.

Dad was able to handle being in the military. But he couldn’t handle diaper changing.

Happy 100th birthday, Dad!

This photo was taken in 1970 – and the photographer captured my best memory of how my dad held his youngest son. Dad knew he would be taking care of Steven for the rest of his life. Aunt Joan is on the far left. Cousins Nancy, Will, Les, and Kim are in the photo. Brother Lee is sporting high-water pants and carrying a baseball bat on his shoulder. Don is on the right behind Uncle Clair.
Dad in his garden – note Gordon’s ring on his left hand.