I am Lucky to Have Known Him

“I first met your dad in 1966. I found him in the Yellow Pages. He gave me a job and a chance for life in California. We have been friends ever since.

“Of late, I have been sending him postcards from my travels. He always responded, and he sent me address labels to remind me to send these cards.

“He has been a constant inspiration. I am lucky to have known him.”

~Jo (and Joe) Gibbons

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Ham and Ace (and Joy and Barb)

Many of you know that my father was an avid letter writer. He did it in longhand, never taking to computers or even typewriters (although we found an old one of mine in his office.)

Fred Hodgson sent us a PDF copy of a letter Ace wrote  to him in March of 2011 shortly after Fred’s mother Joy passed away. In the letter Ace shared some memories of his and Barbara’s lifelong (or close enough) friendship with Ham and Joy Hodgson.

Dear Bobbie and Josh,

John, Michael, and I are terribly sorry to hear about your loss of your father. No expression of sympathy — no matter how deeply felt — can help much right now, but we want you to know that our thoughts are with you. Ace and Barbara were very much a part if our parents’ lives. It was the foundation of that friendship that helped to make them the wonderful examples to others during their lives.

When I received the attached letter from your father after our mother passed in February 2011, I telephoned your father. We had a fun conversation about the remembrances of his times with Ham and Joy. I thought at the time that we was over 90 years of age and yet recalled the details of his life and memories with such accuracy. My dad spoke often of his college days with Ace, the jokes they played on each other, the war years, getting together as we all grew up and being the best man at your folks’ wedding. The four of them had many good times together and were truly participants of the Greatest Generation.

I don’t know if you have seen this letter but imagine you will enjoy reading it as others may — I believe the letter speaks for itself. My brothers and I are so grateful that Barbara and Ace were part of our parents’ lives.

Here is the letter that Fred mentions. Click on this link to open it. Letter from Ace March 9, 2011 We are very grateful to Fred for passing this treasure along.

 

My Sixth Grade Teacher

“I had pleasure of knowing both of your parents. Your Dad was my sixth grade teacher and we had the same birthday, We always were on touch with each other and I will truly miss him. He was a great friend and I have many happy memories. Also, I laughed when you joshed regarding his handstands on desks.”

~Donna Nair

Forty-five Years of Wonderful Memories

“We are so sad to hear of Ace passing away. We knew him as an employer, the superintendent of the schools our sons went through and most of all as a dear and much loved friend. After he retires, Barb and Ace became close friends and we saw each other often, We lunched together and enjoyed talking about what our grown kids were doing. Forty-five years of wonderful memories is what we will cherish.”

~Myrna and Bruce Van Huystee

The Iconic Ace

Ace hugging Eli

Bobbie and I were most excited to discover this photo of Ace. It is iconic of the man he was. The little boy in the shot is Eli, a neighbor (who has grown up quite a bit since this photo was taken.)

I love the metaphor of my dad embracing the children. It’s what he did for a career and it’s one of the things he did as the neighborhood grandfather.

Recently we received a wonderful letter from Mindy Dirks, the mother of the boy in the photo. It was a beautiful expression of how she remembers my mother and father, and it is shared with her permisison.

Dear Bobbie & Josh,

Writing this reminds me of the beautiful notes I always got from your mom about 1 hour after I had done something nice for her. Even the littlest gesture was always acknowledged and dutifully delivered by your dad.

I brought babies and toddlers to your house almost every day for 8 years knowing they’d be fully loved and accepted for who they were. Your mom always had a story about you two as children that fitted whatever stage my children were at. When I was worried, she’d tell how she worried similarly and offer the perspective that only a mother with grown children could have. She felt strongly that children should be accepted for who they are and that a mother needs to guard her children’s uniqueness, quirks and all.

Your dad was more of a brag-about-the-present kind of father. Whatever you two were up to was brag-worthy. He was proud of his children for sure, but even more, he delighted in the two of you. He was current in his knowledge of your lives and he took personal joy from all you did. It was as if your days were his days, your interests were his interests. It was particularly amusing watching your dad try to make his way through a book or article either recommended by one of you or having to do with your thoughts and interests. Each book enjoyed and deemed “fascinating,” not so much for its content but because of its connection to you two.

Both of your parents loved freely. Their eyes sparkled when they’d see my children and Jonah and Eli basked in this light. It helped shape my boys and gave them a sense of community and a broader concept of the word “home.”

This week, we mourn the loss of your dad. It is a big giant loss. Your dad’s last question to me as he lay dying was ‘how’s your dad?’ He truly cared about my life and my family. He celebrated the successes of everyone in my family, my parents included. As Josh said, he really was the superintendent of the neighborhood.

We are grateful for the time we shared with Ace and we take comfort in knowing that as he lay dying he was fully loved and cared for by the two he loved best. May the memory of Ace and the memory of Barbara be a blessing to us all.

Bobbie and I are very grateful to Mindy for her generosity in sharing her memories and feelings with us.

Obituaries

The Friday, May 30th print edition of the Los Gatos Weekly features an obituary of Ace on Page 24 written by Dick Sparrer.

The online version is here. <– click link.

The print edition of the San Jose Mercury News for Sunday, May 25 includes the obituary on Page B16.

The online version is here. < — click link.

You can also visit the Downloads Page (<– click link) to download mementos as PDF files to print, view, or email.

Cornerstone of Our Neighborhood

“Our family has such wonderful memories of Ace. The memory of Ace waving to us when standing by his mailbox will be eternally engraved upon us. His helpful hand of installing a basketball hoop, although using at least a ton of cement, for Shelley and Ashley with the help of Gay Helm will always be appreciated. And, of course, his attentive, listening ear, warm smiles and dear hugs will forever be missed.

“Ace was a cornerstone of our neighborhood. He will be truly missed. Josh & Bobbie, our sympathies for your loss are extended. What a wonderful legacy your Dad (and Mom) have left.”

~The Wegers (Al, Sharon, Shelley and Ashley)

Rest in Peace Ace

“My name is Taia. I was one of the care givers for Ace.

“The first day I met Ace, he was so kind and sweet. I never met anyone as very sweet and kind as Ace. Even when he was in pain, he never complained. He would always smile every morning when I walked into his room.

“His last day he was still sweet and smiling. It was sad he went so fast, but at least he’s in a better place and he is now with our Heavenly Father.

“Rest In Peace, Ace, and thank you for always welcoming me into your home it was an honor to work for you. Much love and prayers go out to the children, Josh and Bobbie.”

~Taia

Cambrian’s Corner in Heaven

“I was sorry to learn of Ace’s passing just yesterday. What a joy it must have been to be part of his family.

“I just wanted to let you know what a great friend he has been to my parents, Ed and Jean Carman.

“I can just imagine them all together in heaven — along with all the others from the early days of the Cambrian School District, a wonderful group of dedicated individuals.”

~Nancy Schramm