Today is a sad day for me and my family; we bid farewell to my Dad, Fred Boese, a wonderful father, brother, uncle, and friend.
Dad was to me, the rarest kind of hero, a man who did incredible things, acted as if they were entirely normal and typical; and never talked much about what he had done and what it meant.
At 18 he left home in New Jersey to attend the University of Vermont on a football scholarship, four years later becoming the first person in his family to earn a college degree.
Shortly after graduating in 1965, he married his high-school sweetheart, and my Mom, Joan.
Shortly after that, he entered the US Army, and by virtue of ROTC training at Vermont, became an infantry officer. Dad served in action (that he never talked about) in the Vietnam War, and left the Army as a Captain. Dad left the Army reluctantly I think, but the pressure applied by a young Mom back home on the base with two infant children to care for, overcame his willingness and desire to continue to serve his country, and lead men even younger than himself, (he has maybe 25 at the time), in battle.
No, he had done his part for his nation, and now it was time to serve his family, a calling, with no exaggeration at all, to which he devoted the rest of his life.
Dad was a constant, reassuring, caring, and wise presence in our lives.
Somehow, maybe it was a by-product of his military training and the understanding that comes with leading men in the most incredible, stressful, and intense circumstances that can be imagined, he always maintained a sense of perspective and balance. It was as if after seeing the worst that men can do, and surviving it, that the rest of life's more mundane trials and tribulations never seemed to knock him off balance, at least for very long. And while he developed a long and successful career as a professional in accounting, finance, and later information systems - he never let his work consume him, knowing that his real work, his calling and his duty, was to be there for his family.
Countless hours he spent teaching us, advising us, making us laugh, and often, just making sure we knew that he was there for us attest to how he consciously chose to devote his time and energy.
After his only love, my Mom, passed away in 2003, Dad's life shifted into what would become its final phase. But despite dealing with the heartbreak of seeing Mom taken from him way too soon, and later his own failing health, he never wavered from what remained his life's purpose - taking care of his family.
For a man who I never felt pressured by to do anything, and who supported all of us in whatever (occasionally foolhardy) paths we have chosen, sometimes it still feels like in some small way that maybe I've let him down. He was such an amazing example of the best of what being a man should mean - honor, duty, sacrifice, selflessness, caring. A testament to what we all should aspire to.
I think one of the marks of a good father, or any kind of leader for that matter - is that he never expects you to do things you are incapable of doing but still you want to try to succeed for them, and when you fail, or worse, if you fail to give your best effort, the guilt and pain lies more with you than with them.
The wise parent knows that they can only do so much for their children, eventually, inevitably, they rise and fall on their own merits.
When I look back one day, and think about my life as a father, son, brother, and friend, and think about how I followed my Dad's example, and (hopefully) honored his legacy, I know that I will fall short.
My Dad has set the bar so high I know I probably can't reach it.
But in just the trying, in the probably futile attempts I make to be as good a man as he was, I will become a better man myself.
Farewell Dad - you will be missed, you will never be forgotten, and I hope you and Mom are together once again.