A little indulgence on this May Day...
You were born in Central Islip, NY. Your parents had recently moved from Worcester so that (as he would later be known as) Gramps could run a nursery on the North Shore of Long Island. You grew up in St. James, and went to high school in Smithtown.
College, the Army, and different jobs saw you travel to different places, but family obligations found you back on the island, where you went to work for Fairchild Camera.
It was that job that eventually led you, and two of your life-long friends, to State College, Pennsylvania, a sleepy little college town in the hills - that’s where the boy who grew up on a farm on Long Island, by the water, fell in love with the mountains.
You always said that it was the mountains that kept you in Central PA, but I think that the pretty waitress may have had something to do with it as well.
And then there were the Nittany Lions.
You had always loved sports; although a better commentator, manager or spectator, you valued competition and just the pure mechanics of sports. Your high school yearbook evidences your involvement on nearly every team - and your diverse admiration for sports continued throughout your life.
But, eventually, sitting in the stands at the new and often renovated Beaver Stadium, it was football, and Penn State, that was your true passion. You and the guys from work (one of whom was the "Grock" in the "Annual Grock/Martin Surprise Birthday Party" celebrations) were treated to some pretty special teams during the last years of Engle’s tenure, and when that upstart Paterno took over the team.
You had grown up rooting for the Brooklyn Dodgers and later followed the Mets; that history, coupled with the national polls and media cemented your tradition of always rooting for the underdog and your adage that Penn State is always the underdog.
You were involved with the different clubs and organizations in town and through the University that supported the team and the athletes. Your demeanor was (almost) always casual, but I know that you cherished your interactions with and souvenirs from the teams.
Growing up with you gave me an appreciation, yes for Penn State specifically, but for everything that a university and education could offer. The breadth of your interests and knowledge were (and still are) inspirational to me - you could talk to anyone, about anything, anywhere. Always reading, listening, and learning - and also sharing - you taught me to never stop being a student. Oh how you would have loved Wikipedia. I know there were times when I thought it was boring to go to the orchestra or lame to go to another art exhibit - but thanks for making me go.
One place you never had to force me to go (except for those 2 seasons when I sold sodas in the stands) was Beaver Stadium. These past months have shown me how much I love that silly little team, and although I have no idea what the future will bring, my memories will guide and strengthen my resolve. We’re determined to see Penn State be what it can and should be - both on (and in) the field and off.
So Happy Birthday Daddy. Every day without you is a little less, but every day because of you is so much more.