As hard as it was in the usual ways, there were so many consolations and blessings forthcoming that it was an intensely bittersweet experience. I thought some of y'awl might enjoy this. If you pull up a satellite image of Vail, WA, the old town was actually to the upper left of where they show it now. Follow Gordon Road out of the shop area, and you can take a virtual tour of 240,000 acres of wilderness. My Dad was the last Mayor of Vail, WA, before the town outlived its usefulness to the Company. What's left there now is a pitiful shadow of what was there back in the day. ********************************************** Dad was a loyal, hard-working, loving family man with a heart of pure gold. He devoted his life to his family and his wife, my dear Mother. I am so grateful that I had the chance to thank him sincerely for all that he has done for us, and tell him once again that I love him, before he passed. Dad made up his mind at a young age that he wanted to be a forester. After he finished his Master's Degree in Logging Engineering at Washington State University, he and my mother moved to a little company town in the Idaho Panhandle, named Headquarters, in 1952. He joined Potlatch Forest as a Management Trainee, and showed such outstanding work ethic that, in the Spring following his first several months of employment, he was selected from among the best of the loggers to work the log drive. Those good men slept on a pontoon boat, and wrestled the whole previous year's production of logs down the Clearwater River to the mill, through 90 miles of stark wilderness. It was a rough, cold, grueling job, and it was not uncommon for a logger to die on the log drive. The foreman, known as the Frenchman, was a man of few words, and a hard man to please. When the drive was finished for that year, Dad was totally exhausted, like everyone else, and sitting on the boat, the Wannigan, reflecting on his adventures. The old Frenchman walked by Dad, stopped, and said quietly, "You may come back next year". That was an immense compliment, and also a strong testimonial to the kind of man Dad was. Even so, Dad's first log drive on the Clearwater was also his last. There was one phone in town, a pay phone at the drug store. One day, Dad received a phone call from someone who has since become his lifelong friend, Ken Schaeffer, with Weyerhaueser. Shortly afterward, Mom and Dad moved from Headquarters to Aberdeen, Washington. Dad started as a surveyor with Weyerhaeuser, and progressed through the ranks. He retired after 39 years of service. Dad had immense respect for the people he worked with, especially the loggers who worked at one of the roughest, most dangerous professions of all. He spent several years as Camp Superintendent at the Vail logging camp (240,000 acres), in western Washington. He was also the Mayor of the company town, also known as Vail. A log train was also part of the operation. I recall one time when they were testing an old set of tracks at the Port of Olympia, where they had planned to sideline several loads of virgin sawlogs, until they could be transported. The tracks were so old, the locomotive broke through, and sank. Dad summoned the Section Crew (the railroad workers), and anyone else he could find, and stayed with them as they spent hour after miserable hour, jacking the lokie up, blocking it in place, and rebuilding the tracks underneath so it could return to the camp to pull the next day's log train. When the sun was going down, Dad radioed to the Vail Shop, and instructed the folks there to call into town, and have a good supper sent out to the men. When supper arrived, Dad noticed one of the men talking to his comrades. I'll never forget the words he spoke: "I've been with this company 22 (expletive deleted) years, and this is the first (expletive deleted) time ANYONE has ever bought me supper". They had the lokie back down on solid tracks and were loading up the tools around Midnight that night. As the lokie headed back to Vail in the darkness and the others started to leave, totally exhausted, that's when Dad left as well, and came home to his family. Dad was my best friend, and my hero. In his last years, I took him out for a ride just about every Saturday, the same way he used to take me to ride with him to the woods. I spent a lot of time with him in the woods, especially when he was at Vail. As badly as I hurt right now, that hurt is offset by an immense sense of consolation. I called the ambulance and had Dad hauled back to the hospital on his last day. He was mad as a wet hen, but he went. When the doctor told us that Dad's life was about to come to an end, I thought he surely had at least a few more days. I told him I was going to run a couple errands and come back to see him. I thanked him sincerely for all that he has done for me, and all of us. I told him once again that I love him, and left. Something told me to go ahead and call the church, even though it was just past 5 PM. Of course, they had already closed. Something told me to go to the church anyway, so I did. I had been there for less than a minute, when Monsignor Lewis drove through the parking lot. When I told him what was going on, he insisted on going to see Dad immediately. Less than a half hour later, I received a call from the hospital, notifying me that shortly after Monsignor Lewis gave Dad the Annointing of the Sick, Dad passed away peacefully and painlessly. And now, as Paul Harvey would say, here's the rest of the story: The next day, Father Vic told me that Monsignor Lewis had been driving to Raleigh that evening to spend some time off, when something changed his mind. Something told him to turn around, and come back to town. Just before he made it back to the rectory, something..... something told him to swing by and check on the church. And there I was. That takes my breath away. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that God had a hand in Dad's passing. Dad left this world loaded for bear. Godspeed, Dad. We all love you dearly. ********************************************** Full steam ahead. Wanna kill these ads? We can help!