Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day isn't a great day for me

Robert (standing) and Gordon Levy
December, 1930

On September 3, 1950 my parents, Gordon Levy and Geraldine Martin, were married.   On Saturday, September 3, 2005 they celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary and two days later, Labor Day, September 5, 2005 my dad was gone.  Although Dad had Parkinson's and other health issues, the heart that had been repaired 26 years before just gave out. 

Gordon Floyd Levy was born in Fresno on February 11, 1927 and was the second son of Sigmund and Mildred Loraine (Gunzendorfer) Levy.  He graduated from Fresno High School in 1944 and after a two year pause for service in the US Army Air Corp, he received a Bachelors Degree from Stanford University in 1949 and a MBA in 1951.  He joined Dean Witter in 1951 and served as a Broker, Partner, and Branch Manager until 1974.  After spending 10 years as General Manager for the San Jose Chamber of Commerce, he returned to Dean Witter/Morgan Stanley in 1985.  Not surprisingly, he spent a full day at work on Friday and died on Monday.  That was just the way he was.

My dad had so many "Gordy-isms" that we still laugh about today.  He loved his sports and would wait for weeks for the big game to finally come on TV.  And once it started and he was comfortable in his chair, we'd find him getting a much needed nap.  And those headphones were placed firmly on his head if he couldn't be near a TV - at weddings, graduations, you name it - he always knew the score. 

Dad bled Stanford red.  He had season tickets for the football games for over 50 years and also loved following the basketball team.  When Stanford would make it to the Rose Bowl or Final Four, Dad was first in line to buy tickets, no matter the location.  And he came to Seattle a few times to watch the UW/Stanford game and had no problem sporting his Cardinal pride amidst a sea of purple.  And then he'd throw up his hands and say "it's not fair, no one can win in this stadium".  Of course plenty of teams other than the Huskies have won but it just never happened to be Stanford when Dad was in attendance.

Dad loved his membership in all sorts of clubs and was very active in the San Jose community, but nothing was more important to him than Rotary.  He was President in the 1960's and was proud of his 51 years of perfect attendance.  I remember no matter where we were vacationing, Dad would always look for a local meeting to attend so he could keep that perfect attendance going.

Oh how I wish Dad could be here to share in this genealogy journey with me.  He loved talking about the past and was always tickled when someone would ask him questions about his youth.  He was proud of his track accomplishments at both Fresno High School and Stanford and loved telling the story of the moment he was the second fastest man in the world.  His theory was this - one day he ran against the fastest man in the world and finished a distant second but that proved that for that moment in time, he was the second fastest man in the world.  He was always looking for the positive in a situation.

I could go on and on about my Dad but to those who knew him best, I'm sure we all agree that the impact he's had on us and those who knew him was significant.  We still laugh about his antics and at times it seems like he's right here with us when his children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren mimic him.  He definitely was one of a kind.

I miss you, Dad!

Gordon Levy
July, 2005

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Wedding Wednesday on Saturday: Gordon Levy and Geraldine Martin

Gordon Levy and Geraldine Martin
September 3, 1950

So I know usually we do Wedding Wednesday but today is a very special day in my family, the wedding/anniversary of my parents.  And sadly, it also was the start of a very bad Labor Day weekend for us in 2005.

My parents, Gordon Floyd Levy and Geraldine Martin, were married in Fresno on September 3, 1950.  They met in 1943 when they were students at Fresno High School - dad was a senior and mom was a sophomore.  After high school, they went off to Stanford and both studied there - Mom with a BA in Economics and Dad finished up with a MBA.  Mom likes to say she didn't "follow" him there but I'd bet she's kidding all of us with that one.

I remember as a child my sister and I would pour over their wedding album and loved to look at all of the pictures - Mom looked so beautiful in her wedding dress (which is still packed away in a hope chest) and Dad was a dapper groom.  We also liked looking at the album where Mom wrote about all of the events.  My favorite part was opening up the tissue paper where a few of the flowers had been pressed and although brown and limp with age, it was a wonderful reminder of what was surely a beautiful day.  I also remember staring at the giant portrait of Mom which still hangs at the end of the hallway in our childhood home.  All little girls dream of their wedding day and it was no exception for us. 

In 2000, Mom and Dad were ready to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary and decided that the best way to celebrate would be to have all of the kids/grandkids together in a very special place.  So Labor Day weekend in 2000 found us all together in Napa for a celebration.  Everyone arrived at different times throughout the weekend but we knew we would all be together for one very special dinner.

Our surprise to Mom and Dad that year was hiring a photographer to capture the day with both group photos and individual family photos.  Dad could, at times, turn into an emotional wreck and my recollection is that he was close on this special evening.  And being the eternal Stanford football fan, I also seem to remember him sitting at the dinner table with his ever-present headphones on listening to the game.

Of course no trip to Napa would be complete without some golf and wine tasting!  One of the days found some of us off wine tasting, some at the amusement park nearby, and some playing golf at Silverado Country Club (the perks of a golf pro brother).  I don't think Dad finished his round that day but I know how much he loved being on the course with his family.  And if memory serves me correctly, that may have been the last time he was able to golf.

Sure our family has grown since then and we're still in different cities and states but I don't think any of us will ever forget that very special weekend celebrating our wonderful parents.

Gordon & Gerry Levy
September 3, 2000
50th wedding anniversary