Sunday, June 21, 2015

Memories of Dad

Today is Father’s Day.  What to many is a day of celebrating dad, for others it is a time to remember and miss dad.  This is the 10th (I can’t believe it!) Father’s Day without my dad and I miss him as much today as I did on that first Father’s Day.  But what saddens me the most is that as time marches on, the memories seem to become more faded.  So in order to preserve as many memories as possible, here’s a little about my dad, Gordon Levy.

My beautiful picture

In 1982, my dad was awarded the Legacy Medal, an award given annually by the San Jose Hospital Foundation.  How exciting to drive down the street in San Jose and see my dad smiling down at me.  I like to think things haven’t changed all that much now.

Gordon Legacy Medal 1982
Gordon F. Levy
1982 Legacy Medal Award winner

My dad never met a person who didn’t quickly become his friend.  He loved to be around people and would often exclaim “let’s go where the PEOPLE are”.  He’d find joy in visiting with his seat mate on an airplane and by the time he landed, he knew pretty much everything about them – their name, where they lived, why they were going wherever they were going and, often times, he’d even have their phone number.  I think his great grandson has a bit of Gordy in him when he announced “strangers are just friends I haven’t met yet”.  Ah, dear boy, your great grandfather would have loved to hear you say that!

My beautiful picture
Dad and his new friends

My dad loved to take pictures.  His photography wasn’t anything out of the ordinary but boy did he have fun with it (as evidenced by the thousands of slides which have now been scanned).  I can’t remember ever going anywhere noteworthy with him when he didn’t have a camera (or three) around his neck and we’d have to stop so he could take one shot or another.  Since Dad was the photographer, there didn’t seem to be too many photos of him but after going through the slides, I’ve learned that he must have shared the camera with someone so he could be in at least a few photos.  Thanks for that, Dad!

By looking at the tree in this photo, I’d guess he was in Monterey or Carmel or somewhere near there.  Mom and Dad always went to the Bing Crosby golf tournament (now AT&T Pro-Am) in Pebble Beach every year so maybe this was during one of their excursions.  Note the cameras hanging around his neck. 

My beautiful picture
Looks like he’s checking his phone!

The photo above also reminds me that Dad loved to wear hats.  He was a stock broker for most of his career and off he’d go every day to work dressed to the nines in his suit and matching hat.  After his death, we donated all of those hats (remember, he never threw anything away) to the community theater group in the area.

Dad was a devoted and faithful Rotarian.  I remember the annual Father/Daughter luncheon where we’d get dressed up and go to the weekly Rotary meeting with Dad.  What a thrill it was in 1966 when Dad was the President of the San Jose Rotary – we were the guests of honor!  One of his proudest achievements in his life was his perfect attendance record for 51 years – if we were on vacation we always had to find a Rotary meeting so Dad wouldn’t miss a meeting.  And it looks like he found one here!

My beautiful picture

Dad loved to have fun and was always game to try new things, even if it involved riding an elephant!

My beautiful picture
Note the camera around his neck

Mom and Dad loved to travel.  And boy did Dad love to take photos of anything possible in whatever city of country they were in (did I mention Dad loved to take photos?).  When we went through the slides so that we could scan them, we found hundreds of photos of landscape, scenery, and buildings which, for the most part, we couldn’t identify so out they went.  But it looks like Dad might have given his camera to a passerby to snap this photo.

My beautiful picture
He didn’t give up the camera case, though!

Dad took a decade long break from the rigors of the stock market and worked for the San Jose Chamber of Commerce, Visitors and Convention Bureau, in the 1970’s.  It was a perfect job for him because he got to be around people all the time.  And when they traveled, he often times found the local Chamber of Commerce and stopped in to make some new friends.

My beautiful picture
What?  Nothing around his neck?

Mom and Dad spent their entire married life in San Jose, all in the same house after their first 7 years of marriage.  They were both sports fans and became quite friendly with Bruce Jenner, and his wife Chrystie, while he was training at San Jose City College for the 1976 Olympics.  So it was only natural that he’d buy a shirt from the Bruce Jenner Michelob Light Classic, which appears to have been a track and field event in 1982.  Dad was a former track star (Fresno High School and Stanford) so I can imagine he sat through every race of the event. 
  My beautiful picture
Wonder if that shirt would be worth anything today?

Dad was a loving dog owner.  I don’t think I remember a time when they didn’t have at least one dog in the house.  He loved these two little ones as it wasn’t too often he could pick up two of their dogs at the same time.

My beautiful picture
Tinka and Buffy

One thing Dad never wavered from was his devotion to Mom.  They did everything together – bridge, golf, travel, Rotary events, and Stanford sports to name a few.  There are so many pictures of them doing crazy things and all of those memories have now been laid to rest.  But at least we have some photos and our imaginations to try to determine what they were doing at any given moment.

My beautiful picture
They were together for over 60 years and married for 55!

The older Dad got, the more emotional he seemed to get, especially with something that was near and dear to his heart.  I can remember at their 50th anniversary celebration he got a little teary as he stood up and addressed the crowd (really just the family of about 13 people).  He was a great speaker but boy, sometimes it got a little tough for him to get the words out.  I didn’t remember any tears flowing at his Legacy Medal Award dinner but by the looks of this picture, I think there might have been a few.

My beautiful picture

Dad wasn’t just a great Dad but he was also a loving Grandpa and had a few years of being a Great Grandpa.  All of us have so many “Gordyisms” which remind us of him constantly.  He waited patiently for the big game to come on TV only to fall asleep once it started, his anxiety at getting to Fred Meyer when he’d come for a visit so he could get some tooth powder, his headphones during critical games so he always knew the score, his exclamation when his grandchildren would arrive at the door of “what are these KIDS doing here?”, to so many more which will forever be etched in our minds.  And as the little ones grow older, even they know some of his best one liners.  He sure would love to hear everyone mimic him.

My beautiful picture
“What are these KIDS doing here”
Nice curlers, girls

And that’s enough about my dad today because it’s getting a bit dusty at this computer.  I guess the emotional gene didn’t stop with Dad.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.  We all miss you and love you – well we do!

Gordon Levy c 2005
Gordon Levy
c. 2005


  1. Hi Bedi,

    Thank you for sharing your excellent memories and photographs.

    All the best -- Randy

  2. What a lovely tribute to your dad - nicely done!

  3. Such wonderful memories of your dad. Great tribute Debi!

  4. This is a beautiful tribute to your father. He sounds like someone fun to know.

  5. Oh Debi, this is one fantastic blog post. You have really captured your dad in words, maybe even better than a camera could.

  6. What a loving and beautiful tribute to your father. He sounds like such a loving and remarkable man.

    By the way, for some reason I'd not yet found your blog despite your comments on mine. I am glad I finally have checked it out! (This is Amy from Brotmanblog---not sure that would be clear by using my Google name.)