My father passed away this day in 1991, twenty-one years ago, yet it doesn’t seem that long, and then again, it seems like it’s been way too long. I miss him, yes.
Dad lived a great life but was too young (71) when he died. He smoked continuously though out his life from a small boy living on the family farm in Indiana. He didn’t learn to walk until he was about two years old. Once he learned though, he never stopped. He has traveled cross country jumping on freight trains, all the way to California where he worked at the Brown Derby Restaurant, busboy I think. He was not afraid to try anything and learned life the hard way. Yet, he always had fun.
He joined the Army Air Corps January 10, 1941, and served four years in the Panama. He’s said that it was pure hell living in the jungles. Ironically, his son, Capt. Herbert C. Crosby [Herby], most likely died on January 10, 1970 while serving in the Army in Vietnam. That’s the date Herby was listed as MIA when his helicopter went down never to be found again. Thankfully his remains were recovered and identified , but sadly not before his father’s death in 1991.
My dad, Herb, built boats, Crosby boats, then Hydrodyne boats along with his brother Ab Crosby who started the boat factory back in the 50s near Fort Wayne, Indiana. Ab and dad would race boats too. Dare devils themselves, always having a great time. Dad was also a small plane pilot. I don’t remember this, but mom has told me that dad took me flying with him (when I was about 3 years old) to Canada to have a Coke!
Dad worked hard all his life. He lost just about everything a couple times, but he always pulled through. His final job was Administrator of a local hospital, which he held until he retired. He did whatever he could to take care of his family. He was always the rock for me. I loved my dad very much, and being the youngest wasn’t bad either. He and I had a special bond that I’ll never lose even now that he’s resting in peace.
He died Memorial Day [observed] 1991 as I lay across him hugging him in his hospital bed. He was unconscious at the time, but I know he knew it was me hugging him. The last coherent words from his mouth to me were “stop smoking” which was made over the telephone three days before he died. Being Memorial Day weekend my husband and I were preparing for our trip home to be with mom and dad for the weekend. It was Friday I believe and I called mom to see if she needed me to bring anything up for them. We talked and at the end of the conversation she asked dad, who was listening close to her if there was anything he wanted to say to me. I heard him yell out “stop smoking.” Dad was not doing well health wise, and we knew his time was coming, but not as quickly as we soon found out.
We arrived the next day to find dad in a state of shock/coma like. The doctor had come to give him a pain shot, morphine to ease his distress. The ambulance was called and he was taken to the hospital. He remained in the coma until he died on Monday, May 27, 1991, with all his family by his side.
It took me 17 years, but I finally quit smoking. Every day since dad’s death I can hear him say “stop smoking” yet I didn’t. Finally, in 2008 I knew it was time as I was ready. I am smoke free and loving it.
But this isn’t about me, this is about my dad. When he died, I found out how much he had helped so many people in the town where we lived. He helped people in need in whatever way he could. It wasn’t always money, it was more than that. He loved people, he loved Donalsonville and the whole community. He gave his heart and soul to help anyone in need. He was a true American patriot, who made sure there was a memorial for all the soldiers of Seminole County who were lost in the Vietnam War, and the Korean War, placed at the courthouse in Donalsonville in their memory and honor. He always flew the American flag and after his son, my brother Herby was MIA, the POW/MIA flag flew right along with the American flag, 24/7. Ask anyone from Donalsonville and they will remember Mr. Herb. He was a character who enjoyed life and loved God, country and family.
I am the proud daughter of Mr. Herb, my dad. I love you dad, and I miss you.