8 years on: my father passes

My father, Col Richard L Alley, passed away eight years ago today, at the age of 88. I clearly recall the one thing he said about his own father, who passed away in the front yard at the age of 80: “I just want to live longer than he did.”

And so it was.

My mother and father met in Sacramento when Dad was training at Mather Air Field. He ended up flying missions for the 8th AF in B-17s, made his missions in one piece and returned to the states, where he became an instructor in B-25s.

Here Dad is being trained to fly.

Dad’s father, Verto, served in World War I.

Verto and Kathleen married soon after. This photo got Verto through WW I.

My father, left, with his brother Jim in Kansas City, Missouri, 1925. All three brothers served in World War II. Dad chose the Air Force, Uncle Jim served in the army and Uncle Bill in the navy.

I miss my father every day and honor his service. Col Richard L. Alley, USAF, 1920 to 2009, WWII and Vietnam.

The same folded flag above is in a polished cherry walnut case no more than four feet from me as I write, with three of the brass casings fired at his salute.



9 thoughts on “8 years on: my father passes

  1. It is sad and for me, awkward losing a parent. My mother died not two years ago yet, and it still seems like it didn’t happen. She was too young in my opinion, and was only 69 years old. What is truly sad is that she departed less than two weeks before her first grandchild (not mine, but my brother’s), and was a granddaughter, a girl that she never had, but wanted so much. She was quite sick, but there was hope she was going to get better.

    What was so weird for me, is that the day she died, I had no idea how to act. I was accused of being cold, because I was observed as showing no emotion. We all know that one day in our lives, we have to bury our parents, but nothing truly prepares you for it. Sadly, I am an atheist, and do see my mother as being in heaven and that one day I will see her again. It was a time like this I wished I was a believer, but I am not. She is gone, and that is all. I will never see her or speak to her ever again. There were words left unsaid between us, and they will remain that way. I have enjoyed the stories of your father, and I am glad that eight years on, you still think of him happily and remember him fondly. I hope I can get to that place one day, and not feel just the sadness and guilt.

    • This is very sad, dekare. The hardest part perhaps is the fact that she didn’t see her grandchild, I’ll wager. I too was accused of being cold. Everyone handles death differently. In my job death was rampant.

      As far as your atheism? It’s your choice, I shan’t fault you for it. But you may be surprised one day.


  2. Thank you for sharing your family history with us BZ. Your Dad was no doubt a wonderful family man, mentor, and American. Although they say “time heals all wounds,” I often dream of having just ONE last conversation with my Dad to better understand his history, and to get his ideas on my adult life, as I’m sure you and your siblings no doubt wish the same– that never goes away. I’m glad you have such a fondness and documented history of your Dad’s life, work, and no doubt cherished memories of a member of the Greatest Generation. God Bless you and your loved ones in remembrance of Col Richard L. Alley.

    • WM, I knew Dad was going. I called both brothers; one had to fly in from San Diego. His final night we all stood around his bed, all three of his sons. My wife was there as well. She leaned over and said “kiss your father.” Being ebullient I didn’t want to admit defeat. I said, “we’ll be back to see your early tomorrow morning, Dad.”

      He passed away at 0330 hrs.

      I believe his last want was to see all his children. Then he was ready.

      Not kissing my father goodbye, one final time, still causes me ill.


Comments are closed.