Charles M. Dewey
On November 25th, 2000, my father, Charles Merlyn Dewey, passed on to be with the Lord. As shown in the essay "What My Parents Did To Me," the influence of my father was enormous. He had a full and exciting life. A retired Chief Petty Officer from the United States Navy, he saw service in China and Occupation of Japan duty on destroyer escorts in World War II. After the war he transfered to Submarine Service in a new field: electronics technician. This set the stage for the remainder of his life: computers. He was one of the team that helped field the Digital PDP-11 computer. Below is part of the eulogy I read at his memorial service on November 28th, 2000, at Holy Cross Episcopal Church, Cumberland, Maryland.
In the book "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury, one of the characters talks about how one of his relatives made such an impression on his life that if you lifted off the top of his head, you would see that person's thumbprint clearly imprinted on his brain. That's how it is with my dad. His imprint on my life is immense.
Its very hard to narrow down one specific thing about my father to eulogize on. He was a most amazing man. He was a man's man, a combat veteran and a leader, and at the same time was sentimental, very tender and loving. For me personally he set an example in life of character and excellence that I will always be measuring myself up to. From him I learned:
- a love for life, and an appreciation for living life to its fullness;
- an appreciation for the finer things in our culture, but at the same time to never lose respect for the common working man;
- the value of hard work, and personal accomplishment;
- the knowledge that anything in life was mine, that nothing was impossible, if I was willing to work at it;
- and of course the opposite, that I shouldn't look for a hand out in life, but should be self-reliant.
From him I learned the example of what a man should be, what a husband should be, and what a father should be.
He also gave me my faith. The example he, and both my parents, gave to us as children set the tone for my entire life above and beyond everything else. A number of years ago I wrote a short piece for the Holy Cross newsletter that I've never been able to top for explaining what this influence was. This short article, by the way, is also on my ministry web page, and people from over the world can read the influence my father had on me.
The article was called: "What My Parents Did To Me."
[Personal note: at this point I read the article]
What seems to be ironic is that he would never see himself in this way. In spite of all his achievements and accomplishments he was a very humble man. He seemed to fully understand his human failings, and never forgot his roots in Elgin, Illinois. Again, in this, he set the example for character and behavior that all of us should follow.
I would like to close with just one personal thought. I believe this would be appropriate.
Loss of a parent is a major event in adult life. Because we are all mortal, it is a rite of passage that we all must face. Its kind of like a graduation.
When I was in Drill Sergeant School, on our graduation day, all of us candidates were presented to the commander and recommended to be Drill Sergeants by the head trainer, the Senior Drill Sergeant. After we had all received our diplomas, the commander saluted the Senior Drill Sergeant, and said, "Good job, Senior Drill Sergeant."
In the school of life, my father presented three candidates for graduation. Only at this graduation, it is not the students who will graduate to the next phase, but the trainer. I would like to think I can speak for our heavenly Commander as He views the candidates and how prepared they are to undertake their new duties, and at this time, salute my dad, and say, "Good job, Chief."