Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My Daddy's Birthday Is Today

My Father holding me

Had he lived, my father, Robert Lawrence Temple, would have been 93-years-old today. Unfortunately, he died 30 years ago at the age of 63, four years younger than I am now.

I miss him. We had much too little time together. I have many questions I would like to ask him—questions I wish I had been intelligent enough to have asked when he was still alive.

What I know about Daddy comes to me primarily second hand:

  • He was the middle child of three children of Nicholas Lawrence Temple—TNT (Terrible Nick Temple) for whom I am named and about whom I have written several blog posts.
  • He grew up in the West End of Louisville.
  • He was an All-state high school baseball player (third baseman).
  • He was tremendous on roller skates, renowned for being about to dance exquisitely on skates.
  • He had a professional quality bass singing voice; he was offered a job singing on a local radio station before being on of the first Americans drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II.
  • During WWII, he was initially stationed in Great Britain.
  • He participated in the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, and Italy.
  • According to the journal he kept during the war, he did not like commanding others; for example, he felt accountable when assigning solders to be forward observers who were wounded or killed while performing that duty, wishing he was able to take their places.
  • He developed pneumonia in 1945 while in Italy and was sent back to the United States to recuperate; he was discharged from the army without having to return to combat.
  • He then dated “every girl he had ever known” before the war with the intention of getting married.
  • He married my mother in March of 1945; I was born in February of 1946.
  • He worked as a driver/route man for Sealtest Dairies, where he became a labor leader.
  • He later worked at Louisville’s General Electric Appliance Park, where he performed maintenance of the assembly lines.
  • He sang in church choirs.
  • When he was in this late 40s it was discovered he had but one functional kidney, the other one having atrophied, possibly when he had scarlet fever when he was ten-years-old.
  • He suffered from gout and diabetes beginning when he was in his early 50s.  
  • He had three amputations of his right leg (half his foot, then below his ankle, and finally below the knee), after which he wore an artificial leg.
  • In his mid-fifties, he began to have a series of small strokes that ended with a massive one that left him partially paralyzed and made his speech difficult.  

In the fall of 1983, Dad, along with my Mom and Aunt Dot, visited my family at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis where I was in my first year of study. Because of the strokes and prosthetic limb, he was unable to climb the step to our apartment and remained in the automobile he had rented for the trip. 

After a three-day visit, he returned to Louisville. On the day that he departed I helped him to his car while the others checked out of their motel room. It was then Daddy told me that he was happy I had decided to become an ordained minister and that he loved me dearly. It was the only time I remember him telling me that he loved me. We hugged and both shed tears.

Two days later, while in his barber's chair, my father had a massive stroke and died.

Today, on this 93rd anniversary of his birth, I celebrate the life of my father. I miss him. I wish I had spent more quality time with him. I love him.

Dad pinning my 2nd Lieutenant’s bars on me 
the day I was commissioned as a U.S. Army officer in 1969


  1. What a good memorial for your dad, someone to be proud of.

    1. Thank you, Elka. I sincerely appreciate your comment.