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Remembering Dad

Happy birthday, Dad! If my father were alive, on July 26th he’d be 103 years old.

Dad grew up in Waterloo, Iowa, where his father was a machine tool operator who made parts for John Deere tractors. He came to Chicago in the midst of the Depression with a high school diploma, took a two-week bookkeeping job with a company that sold fine china and silverware, and over the next half-century became that company’s CEO and Chair of the Board.

But Dad never lost the values he learned at home — values like honesty, hard work, personal frugality combined with generosity, kindness in every form, and the all-important ability to laugh at one’s self and with others. Dad was the best man I’ve ever known — followed closely by my Grandpa Palmer — and I feel deeply grateful that I drew him as a father.

In celebration of Max J. Palmer and all the good fathers out there, here’s a poem by William Stafford about a gift my father gave me: a sense of being at home in my own skin and on the face of the Earth. If that’s a gift you were given or have developed, pass it along!

Father’s Voice
by William Stafford

"No need to get home early;
the car can see in the dark."
       He wanted me to be rich
       the only way we could,
       easy with what we had.

(Excerpted from Allegiances. Read the full poem here.)

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