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November 16, 2012 - John Stack
My dad passed away 11 years ago today. Way too young at 62, caused by a lifetime of a bad heart. Who was my dad? He was a good guy. There is a country song by Aaron Tippin which encapsulates a lot about him ‘You’ve got to stand for something’. My dad was strong in the beliefs he had. There are reasons to dislike most anyone in this world. There are reasons why a lot of people would dislike me. Why people would dislike my friends. But if you had a problem with my father, you had a real problem with yourself. Here are some moments to describe him. One night, my dad was coming out of the Barto Hill Inn on a cold snowy night. I believe he was by himself, but maybe with my stepmother probably 35 years ago. There was a woman brushing off her car in a car near him with her husband (john) in the car. My dad wouldn’t stand for that so went over and brushed the car off for her. Ironically, these two became two of his best friends in his life. My dad was frugal, but not cheap. He would fix a torn lawn chair rather than buy a new one for 10 bucks. He drove all his vehicles over 200K miles, trying to outdo his brother Ed on who could get the most miles out of their vehicles. Yet, more than once I was out for pizza with him, and the aforementioned John and their spouses. When the check came, John and my dad would argue over picking up the bill.
How do I know he was respected? Once my dad had tickets to a hockey game in Utica. I was going with my girlfriend at the time, and we were all going together. My stepmother Jeannie wasn’t feeling well, so my dad stayed home with her. Turns out, the tickets were through his company, PAR technologies. In front of us were a bunch of his co-workers. We didn’t know this until they started talking. It went like this ‘Hey! Where’s Bill Stack?..I don’t know. ..Too bad he isn’t here. …He is a real great guy…man, I’m really sorry he didn’t make it’. When you go to a funeral, everyone tells you what a great guy your dad was. But when people are saying great things about him and they don’t know you are there, that’s a real testament.
Us kids were not afraid of my father. We were afraid of disappointing him, not afraid of being yelled at or hit. One time, my sister Bridget and I took out his brand new 4 wheeler Polaris. Now we lived way out in the boonies, a mile down a dirt road, surrounded by hundreds of acres of meadows and such. We were zipping around a field a half mile away and crashed into an unknown sinkhole. Brij was on the back, and came up over me. We both had close to whiplash and sprained wrists and such. The Polaris was basically 90 degrees down in a 5 foot hole. Did we worry about our injuries? Hah! We were both thinking –‘You tell dad what happened’, but we were more worried he would see us walking over the hill carrying our helmets and worried as to what happened. We were worried we had just crashed his new $6,500 toy he spent a decade or more waiting to buy. But, of course, he was more worried about us, and went down with his truck and pulled out the 4 wheeler.
But he was also not a ‘square’. As a teenager, he raced a chevy on an 1/8 mile drag strip in Fonda(where Shirley Muldowney used to race). In Dolgeville, they would take off the mufflers and scare the citizens of Dolgeville with the headers straight off the block at 2 in the morning. He played guitar with his friend Warney as a teen (although I messed with his guitar later, I never saw him pick it up in my lifetime). He was a snowmobile enthusiast from day one, driving old 1969 Arctic Cats pulling us kids behind on a dogsled. He understood my desire to live on the shore in Atlantic City for a summer after graduating from college before joining the real world. He was a founding member of the Fairfield Sportsman Club, was a top trapshooter also. We had trapshoots literally in our back yard on Sundays for years. My brother Bill and his son Goose have gotten these genes, both winning national titles at The ATA Grand American in different groups. I can shoot, but I’m not in their class.
My siblings (Brij, Jenn, Bill, Kathy) and I know we are lucky to have him as our father. I seem to be the lucky one, as I still often have dreams with him in them. It was many years before something would come into my head and I would think ‘I gotta tell dad about thi’s, only to then realize I couldn’t. But my dad lived a great life. I believe he was a happy man when he died. No regrets. Nothing undone.
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