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Posts Tagged ‘edgar a. fuller’

Christmas at the Fargo Mansion

December 12th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

It’s been about a year since I last stayed at the Fargo Mansion Inn in Lake Mills, Wisconsin but the many fond memories of that visit still remain. Many folks in that small, picturesque village showed me so many kindnesses. And two of the kindest, most sincere people I met during that trip were Tom Boycks and Barry Luce, owners of the Fargo Mansion Inn.

Were it not for these two, the 7,500-square foot Queen Anne mansion would have been reduced to several tons of construction debris at the county landfill. It was slated for demolition when they stepped in and bought it, sans heat, plumbing and electricity.

It’s been 25 years since those two saved this house, and today, it’s hard to imagine what Lake Mills would look like without this most impressive manse.

Since purchasing the solid-brick, 112-year-old house, Barry and Tom have poured their heart and soul (and a lot of money) into a thoughtful and thorough restoration. Visiting this house should be high on your “bucket list.” To make a reservation, click here.

The Fargo Mansion first came into my life in Summer 2011, shortly after my father’s death. Amongst his things, I found two old photo albums. One of the albums had an inscription: “Merry Christmas, Wilbur.”

Wilbur was my great-grandfather, but who was Addie Hoyt Fargo? Well, that’s a long story. To learn more about Addie Hoyt, click here.

To see pictures of Addie’s House, all dressed up for Christmas, scroll down!  (Thanks to Jan Vanderheiden for the photos!)

To read about Addie’s special Christmas present to Wilbur in 1900, click here.

To reserve a room at the Fargo Mansion (and see more gorgeous photos), click here.

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Addies house as it appeared in 1896, soon after a major remodeling.

Addie's house as it appeared in 1896, soon after a major remodeling.

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This beautiful house underwent a major remodeling in 1895 and 1896. Today, its a nationally known B&B. Addie would be proud!

This beautiful house underwent a major remodeling in 1895 and 1896. Today, it's a nationally known B&B. Addie would be proud! (Photos are copyright 2011 Jan Vanderheiden and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Inside, Tom and Barry have done a beautiful job of decorating the house for the holidays.

Inside, Tom and Barry have done a beautiful job of decorating the house for the holidays. (Photos are copyright 2011 Jan Vanderheiden and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Addie also did a fine job of decorating, back in 1896.

Addie also did a fine job of decorating, back in 1896. This photo faces the same corner as the contemporary photo shown above. Sadly, that newel post light ("Our Lady of the Naked Light") disappeared in the intervening decades.

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Tom and Barry love this old house, and it really shows.

Tom and Barry love this old house, and it really shows. (Photos are copyright 2011 Jan Vanderheiden and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Addie loved her house, too.

Addie loved her house, too. In the background, you can see that massive staircase and reception hall. Look at the fretwork and heavy curtains over the doorways.

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I love the vintage toys at the base of the tree. This tree sits at the base of the staircase. (Photos are copyright 2011 Jan Vanderheiden and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Notice the magnolia leaves on the Electrolier!

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When my father died in June 2011, I found this photo album buried in an old nightstand. Apparently Addie gave this to her brother-in-law Wilbur Whitmore for a Christmas gift.

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Heres a picture of Addie with her older sister, Anna. Anna (born 1866) married Wilbur and moved to Denver. Wilbur and Annas families were both from Lake Mills and theyre my great-grandparents.

Here's a picture of Addie with her older sister, Anna. Anna (born 1866) married Wilbur and moved to Denver. Wilbur and Anna's families were both from Lake Mills and they're my great-grandparents.

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Wilbur and Anna about the time of their engagement (late 1880s).

Wilbur and Anna about the time of their engagement (late 1880s).

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To learn more about the Hoyts, click here.

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Who is Addie to Me?

November 29th, 2011 Sears Homes 8 comments

One of the questions I’m most frequently asked is, “How are you related to Addie?”

When I gave my talk in Lake Mills on September 4th, I explained that I didn’t even know I had an Aunt Addie until my father died in June 2011. While I was cleaning out his apartment, I found two photo albums in beautiful condition from the late 1890s. One photo was marked with this inscription:  Enoch and Addie Hoyt Fargo on their wedding day, 1896.

After the dust settled from my father’s funeral, I sent an email to my friend David Spriggs and asked for his help in solving this mystery. Within a few hours, he’d figured it out.

So, how am I related to Addie?

My great-great grandfather was Homer Hoyt, born in Vermont in 1841. In the early 1860s, he moved to Lake Mills, and met the woman who’d become my great-great grandmother, Julia Hawley Hoyt.  (Julia Hawley Hoyt was the daughter of a salty old sea dog, Captain Hawley.)

In my genetic history, we have an amazingly strong trait known by some as the “pack rat” trait. And while I’m personally a big fan of the anti-clutter club, I have to say, I’m very grateful that for 150 years, my family has been hanging onto these photos.

First, my favorite photo.

Captain Hezekiah Beech Hawley in 1874. According to family lore, he was a salty sea captain, and he surely does look the part. This would have been Addies grandfather!

Addie's maternal grandfather: Captain Hezekiah Beech Hawley in 1874. According to family lore, he was a salty sea captain, and he surely does look the part.

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And his wife, Teresa Hathaway Hawley (also 1874). This would have been Addies grandmother on her mothers side.

And here's a picture of the captain's wife, Teresa Hathaway Hawley (also 1874). This would have been Addie's grandmother on her mother's side.

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Homer Hoyt at age 17 (late 1850s or early 1860s)

Homer Hoyt was Addie's father, and he was my great-great grandfather. He's pictured here at age 17 (about 1858). Homer was from Vermont, but by the early 1860s, Homer had moved to Lake Mills, where he met Julia Hawley. They were married about 1864.

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Homer in 1888

Homer Hoyt in 1888. He would have been about 47 years old here. Homer died in 1894 at the age of 53. He's buried in Washington State, but has a memorial marker in the Lake Mills cemetery. Note the masonic emblem around his neck.

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Julia Hawley Hoyt in 1888.

Julia Hawley Hoyt in 1888. She was Addie's mother. Homer (pictured above) and Julia had three children: Anna, Addie and Eugene. Julia died a few months after Homer, in January 1895. Addie married Enoch 13 months after her mother's death.

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Egue

Eugene was the baby of the family and was born in 1875. He never married and never had children. He lived in Lake Mills for a time (in his adulthood), but after Addie's death, he left the area. He became an itinerant machinist and traveled around the Midwest looking for work. That's a surprise actually, because this guy doesn't look like an itinerant machinist. Eugene looks like someone who became a fancy tailor or a French chef. Nice tie.

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My great-grandmother (right) was Anna Hoyt Whitmore. Shes pictured here with her sister, Addie. Addie would have been about 15 in this photo (born 1872) and Anna would have been 21.

My great-grandmother (right) was Anna Hoyt Whitmore. She's pictured here with her sister, Addie (Ada) Hoyt. Addie (born January 22, 1872) would have been about 15 in this photo and Anna (born December 1, 1866) would have been 21. Anna lived to be 99 years old. Addie did not.

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Anna met and married a fine young gent named Wilbur Walter Whitmore and married him in the late 1880s. Theyre pictured here shortly before their marriage. Wilbur was reputedly a fine and decent fellow. He was also my great grandfather. It was Wilbur to whom Addie sent that photo album in Christmas 1900.

Anna met a fine young gent named Wilbur Walter Whitmore and married him in the late 1880s. Soon after their marriage, they moved to Denver, where they remained for the rest of their married lives. They're pictured here shortly before their marriage. Wilbur was reputedly a fine and decent fellow. He was also my great grandfather. It was Wilbur to whom Addie sent that photo album in Christmas 1900. Judging by this photo, one would have to say that Anna and Wilbur were a pair of swingers!

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Wilbur

Great-grandfather Wilbur W. Whitmore and I share a birthday: July 4th. He and Anna were married until his death in 1939. After Wilbur died, Anna moved to Santa Monica to live with her daughter (my grandmother) Florence Whitmore Fuller. He worked for the railroads and was a skilled negotiator.

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Addie

Addie in 1894, about two years before she married Enoch Fargo of Lake Mills.

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Addie married Enoch Fargo.

Addie married Enoch Fargo in 1896, and remained in Lake Mills until her death in 1901. Addie and Enoch did not have any children. Enoch had three daughters by his first wife, Mary Rutherford. Two of them survived to adulthood, and also had children.

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Ernie

My great -grandmother Anna Hoyt Whitmore had three children with Wilbur; Ernie (shown above), Victor, and Florence (my grandmother). Ernie was six years old in this photo, and he died shortly after this picture was taken. He was born in 1888 and died in 1894.

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In 12 months time, Addie mourned the loss of her little nephew (six year old Ernie, above), and then her father (1894) and then her mother (1895). And in February 1896, she married Enoch Fargo.

In June 19, 1901, Addie died under suspicious circumstances.

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Florence Whitmore was Anna's daughter, and she married a tall thin gent named Edgar Atkinson Fuller. Florence is pictured here in 1922. Florence was born in 1891.

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Baby Boys in 1919

Florence and Edgar had only two children: Thomas Hoyt Fuller (left) and Edgar A. Fuller, Junior (right). The twins were born June 13, 1919. Thomas Hoyt Fuller was named after his grandmother's side of the family. Florence's brother Victor never had children, and Ernie died at six years old. The twins were the only great-grandchildren of Homer and Julia Hawley Hoyt.

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This photo - from 1922 - shows Wilbur and Anna Hoyt Whitmore taking their twin grandsons out for a ride. My father is sitting with Wilbur and my Uncle Ed is sitting with his maternal grandmother, Anna Hoyt Whitmore (Addie's sister).

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Thomas Hoyt Fuller (left) and Edgar Atkinson Fuller (right) about 1943.

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The Fuller Twins in 1982.

The Fuller Twins in 1979. My father (Thomas Hoyt) is on the left.

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After Thomas Hoyt Fuller came home from the war, he married Betty Mae Brown of Berkeley (who'd served as a WAVE in WW2) and they had four children.

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Mom

Betty Mae and Tom Fuller in 1960.

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Dad

I'm pictured here with my father and three brothers, Rick, Tommy and Eddie at the Hoover Dam (1966). Notice my eldest brother Tom has a shirt made of fabric that matches my short little dress. My mother was an accomplished seamstress, and often made our clothes.

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On June 10, 2011, my father died, three days shy of his 92nd birthday.

On June 10, 2011, my father died, three days shy of his 92nd birthday. It was while I was cleaning out his apartment in an assisted living facility that I found the photos of Addie and Enoch Fargo. (Photo is courtesy of Dave Chance and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

My father (Thomas Hoyt Fuller), had four children, of which I am one. My Uncle Ed had two daughters, one of whom has passed on. My cousin and my three brothers and myself are the only great-great grandchildren of Homer and Julia Hoyt.

To read more about Addie, click here.

To learn about Sears Homes, click here.

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Who is Addie to Me?

September 30th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

One of the questions I’m most frequently asked is, “How are you related to Addie?”

When I gave my talk in Lake Mills on September 4th, I explained this in some detail, and perhaps it’d be a good idea to do that here, as well.

My great-great grandfather was Homer Hoyt, born in Vermont about 1840. In the early 1860s, he moved to Lake Mills, and met the woman who’d become my great-great grandmother, Julia Hawley Hoyt.

Homer Hoyt at age 17 (late 1850s or early 1860s)

Homer Hoyt was my great-great grandfather. He's pictured here at age 17 (about 1858). Homer was front Vermont, but by 1870, Homer and his wife (Julia) were living in the Lake Mills (Wisconsin) area.

Homer and his wife Julia had three children: Anna, Addie and Eugene.

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Homer and Julia had two daughters and one son. Pictured above are their two daughters, Anna Hoyt (left) and Addie Hoyt (right). Anna was 44 in this photo. Addie (right) was 24. The photo on the left was taken in 1910, and the photo on the right was 1896.

Homer and Julia’s son (Eugene) was an itinerant machinist and never married and never had children.

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Anna met and married this man, Wilbur W. Whitmore in Lake Mills. She and Wilbur moved to Denver soon after their marriage. She remained there until 1939, when Wilbur died. In the early 1940s, Anna moved to Santa Monica, California, to be with her daughter.

Addie married Enoch Fargo.

Addie married Enoch Fargo in 1896, and remained in Lake Mills until her death in 1901. Addie and Enoch never had children. Enoch had three daughters by his first wife, Mary Rutherford. Two of them survived to adulthood, and also had children.

Ernie

Anna Hoyt Whitmore and Wilbur Whitmore had three children, Ernie (shown above), Victor, and Florence (my grandmother). Ernie was six years old in this photo, and he died shortly after this picture was taken. He was born in 1888 and died in 1894.

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Florence Whitmore was Anna's daughter, and she married a tall thin gent named Edgar Atkinson Fuller. Florence is pictured here in 1922. She was born in 1891.

Baby Boys in 1919

Florence and Edgar had only two children: Thomas Hoyt Fuller (left) and Edgar A. Fuller, Junior (right). The twins were born June 13, 1919. Thomas Hoyt Fuller was named after his grandmother's side of the family. Florence's brother Victor never had children, and Ernie died at six years old. The twins were the only great-grandchildren of Homer and Julia Hawley Hoyt.

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This photo - from 1922 - shows Wilbur and Anna Hoyt Whitmore taking their twin grandsons out for a ride. My father is sitting with Wilbur and my Uncle Ed is sitting with his maternal grandmother, Anna Hoyt Whitmore (Addie's sister).

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Thomas Hoyt Fuller (left) and Edgar Atkinson Fuller (right) about 1943.

The Fuller Twins in 1982.

The Fuller Twins in 1979.

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In 1947, Tom Fuller married Betty Mae Brown of Berkeley and they had four children.

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Betty Mae and Tom Fuller in 1960.

Dad

I'm pictured here are me with my father and three brothers, Rick, Tommy and Eddie at the Hoover Dam (1966). Notice my eldest brother Tom has a shirt made of fabric that matches my short little dress. My mother was an accomplished seamstress, and often made our clothes.

On June 10, 2011, my father died, three days shy of his 92nd birthday.

On June 10, 2011, my father died, three days shy of his 92nd birthday. It was while I was cleaning out his apartment in an assisted living facility that I found the photos of Addie and Enoch Fargo. (Photo is courtesy of Dave Chance and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

My father (Thomas Hoyt Fuller), had four children, of which I am one. My Uncle Ed had two daughters, one of whom has passed on.  My cousin and my three brothers and myself are the only great-great grandchildren of Homer and Julia Hoyt.

To read more about Addie, click here.

To learn about Sears Homes, click here.

If you’d like to help in the quest to learn what happened to Addie, please leave a comment below.

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On Behalf of a Grateful Nation…

June 20th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

The piece below was written June 20, 2011 (Monday).

Today was the day of my father’s memorial service. And it was also the day that I delivered my first eulogy. Thanks to a lot of kind souls and a lot of help, it turned out to be a beautiful service and was well attended. More than 60 people showed up to pay their respects to Thomas Hoyt Fuller.

The service was opened with remarks from retired Methodist Pastor Dabney Walters, with readings from the Old and New Testament, followed by my comments (see below). After I spoke, Pastor Walters offered a closing prayer. At the end of the service, the Honor Guard did their presentation of the Military Honors, an honor earned by my father’s years of service in World War II.

A sombre and soft version of taps wafted from the back of the room as the two soldiers - in their Army Dress Uniform - walked toward the front of the chapel with the flag, stood ramrod straight before us, gently unfurled the flag, and then refolded it. After it was folded into a triangle, one of the soldiers turned to me, and then slowly and methodically knelt directly in front of me. Looking directly into my eyes, he spoke softly and respectfully and said,

On behalf of the people of a grateful nation, may I present this flag as a token of appreciation for the honorable and faithful service your loved one rendered this nation.

Heretofore, I’d maintained my composure and hadn’t shed a tear, but when that young gentleman presented me with that flag, and spoke those words with such conviction and tenderness, I felt the tears come to my eyes. And everyone behind me and beside me was doing a whole lot of sniffling. It was a beautiful service, and it was a day I’ll always remember.

The eulogy I delivered today at my father’s memorial service follows the photos (below).

My father in January 1943.

My father in January 1943.

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The folded flag I was presented today (Monday, 6.20.2011) at my father's memorial service.

The Eulogy

You may have noticed a statement in the obituary that said my father was moved into assisted living under “strong, strident and consistent protest.”

That’s an understatement.

But it doesn’t begin to describe how he felt when I took away his driving privileges.

Sometime in his late 80s, he became firmly convinced that four-way stop signs were an egregious violation of his constitutional rights and he’d roll right through those stop signs, boldly declaring, “I’m a veteran of WW2, and these stop signs violate those very rights I fought to protect!”

Frequently, he’d get pulled over by local law enforcement, but he told me one day that he’d never been ticketed, because he knew the magic words to say at such a time.

“I start shaking real bad when they ask me for my license,” he explained with a wry smile. “And then I tell them that I’ve already had three heart attacks, and that I’m feeling ill, and that I have to get home immediately so I can take my nitroglycerin tablets.

“They always put away their ticket book and tell me to get home and to be more careful next time.

“It never fails.”

In 2006, he called me and said that he’d had a little car trouble on I-264.

“I’m near the Rosemont Road exit,” he explained. I’m pulled over on the shoulder of the road, and I’ll wait for you here.”

Talking to him as I drove, I said, “Where exactly are you?”

“Oh, I’m easy to find,” he told me. “Just look for the fire trucks. They still have their lights flashing.”

“Fire trucks?” I said with my voice rising.

“Well, they put out the fire, but there’s still a lot of smoke rising from the car. You’ll be able to see me from miles away.”

When I got there, I found him - dressed in one of his fine suits - and standing next to a still-smoldering car. His engine had overheated and literally caught fire.

He got into my car and we got the Caddy taken care of. Heading back to the interstate, he said, “Listen, I was on my way to a dinner date with Cathy Creekmore. I need a ride out to her house and she’d love to meet you.”

I declined the date, and took him home.

After several more months of drama, which included the revocation of his driver’s license and disabling his cars, and removing the license plates from his vehicles and burying them under his azalea bushes in the front yard, and having two cops and one commonwealth’s attorney visit him in person and threaten him with arrest and criminal prosecution, he finally stopped driving, but it was under the most strong, strident and consistent protest.

In 2008, several weeks after he’d stopped driving, I dropped in on him one Sunday morning.

Walking up the front steps to his house, I saw the morning paper still resting on the porch stoop, and I felt a wave of panic.

He was an early riser and usually, he’d have read half the paper by now. Something must have happened to him.

I used my key and entered his spacious brick ranch, yelling his name repeatedly. No response. I moved through his house slowly and deliberately, gently pushing open each door.

As I entered the rooms one by one, I took a deep breath and steeled myself for whatever awaited on the other side, but he was nowhere be found. I left a note on his favorite table and went on to church.

He called me later that day to report that he’d caught an early ride to his church. He told me it was Senior Pancake Breakfast Day at church.

“I’m glad to hear from you,” I told him. “When I saw that newspaper on the front porch, I thought that maybe you’d…”

Died, was what I intended to say, but that sounded so cold and hard. In those fast few milliseconds when the brain scrambles to fill in any gaps in conversation, my alternate for “died” turned out to be a little wordy.

“I thought that maybe you’d…gone on to be with your parents.”

Immediately he replied, with the anger rising in his voice, “How am I going to get there? You took away my car!”

It was hard to know how to respond to that, so I did what I always do when the old man left me flummoxed. I changed the topic and asked what a Senior Pancake tastes like.

He answered by saying that he’d sat next to a beautiful woman at the breakfast and that even though she was 95 years old, she didn’t look a day over 75.

“A real babe?” I asked.

“The pancakes were excellent,” he replied. “And that reminds me, I need a ride to the liquor store soon. I’m almost out of booze.”

That’s Tom Fuller.

He was famous for documenting everything, and he’d take copious notes and then file them safely away. When I cleaned out the house on Briarwood, I found notebook after notebook on every topic imaginable.

The most interesting documentation was a small tablet I found in the living room. It was his “Roach Log.”

He started documenting the physical well-being of the roaches he found in his house, and their specific physiological reactions to being sprayed with toxic chemicals. Each entry was marked with a time and a date.

Knowing that I’d found the mother-lode of documentation, I immediately took a picture of the log and forwarded it to my children. They loved it.

One such entry read, “Unusually large roach found behind sofa. Sprayed at 8:32 pm, and adverse reaction was immediate. Re-checked at 9:15 pm. Legs still wiggling, albeit weakly.”

After he was moved into assisted living, my husband started taking bets on the odds that my father would be evicted from the beautiful facility within 30 days. Problem was, no one would take a bet on him NOT being evicted.

The manager of Province Place called regularly, and she was an angel. Just an angel.

The most interesting incident can best be described as “Grand Theft Rascal.”

Seems my father had walked to the Kroger behind the facility, and “borrowed” one of their electric scooters, and drove it back to Province Place, and parked it in a handicapped spot and then went inside the facility, and asked one of the female residents out on a date, explaining that “now he finally had wheels again.”

The last few years of his life were quite an adventure.

My happiest memory of Tom Fuller comes from my childhood.

When I was about 12 years old, I returned home from a school trip to Washington DC late at night. The chartered bus rolled up to our junior high about 1:00 in the morning and we all scurried off the bus and ran off to find our waiting parents. My father was waiting for me in his recently purchased car, a 1967 Buick Electra 225. It was 1971, but that was the newest used car he’d ever owned and he loved it. It had a 430 cubic inch engine and a four-barrel carburetor.

He told every one who’d listen that it was a one-owner car, and had been owned by a funeral home, so it had never been driven over 25 miles per hour. It was, in his words, a real cream puff.

My father and I were driving down High Street in the wee hours, headed west to our home in Waterview and the streets were deserted. I loved riding in the car with my father and I was so happy that he finally had a nice car. We spent many happy hours riding around in that car and talking, just father and daughter.

That powerful V-8 just purred as we rolled down the quiet streets. Relishing this quiet time with my beloved father, I turned to him and said those three simple words that every father longs to hear.

“Dad, goose it.”

He looked at me and smiled.

“Just this once,” I pleaded. “Let’s see what that V-8 will do. No one’s around for miles. Please Dad?”

He looked at the street for a moment, looked back at me and smiled.

“Hold on,” he said with a lilt in his voice.

And then he floored it.

You could almost hear that powerful engine whisper a quiet “thank you” in that millisecond before it roared to life. As the four-barrel carb drank in great quantities of fuel, those 360 powerful horses came alive. The torque was so powerful the car lunged a bit to the left as we took off. We hit 75 mph in the blink of an eye. That was one of the most delightful memories of my life.

My father eased his foot off the gas, hit the brake and we went back to 35 mph. Felt like we were standing still.

Next week, he took the car in for repairs. Turns out, that powerful torqueing and twisting had busted a motor mount which was an expensive repair. He told me about it later that week adding, “We won’t be doing that again!”

When I was 14, he left home one night, and for the next 30 years, by his choice, he was mostly absent from my life.

Thanks to the grace of God, at the very end of his life, I was able to be there for him, talk to him, comfort him, and kiss him on the forehead and tell him sincerely, “I love you Dad, and I always have loved you, and I always will love you.”

Sunday night, five days before he passed, he sat on the edge of his bed and made three simple statements, and they came from the depths of his soul.

He said, “Mother’s been gone a long time, hasn’t she?”

I asked, “Do you mean, Betty, my mother, or your mother?”

He said, “Betty.”

I said, “Yes, it’s been 10 years.”

He said, “She was the mother of my four children.”

I said, “Yes, that’s right.”

He said, “My four children turned out very well, didn’t they?”

I said, “Yes, your four children turned out well.”

I was comforted to know that at the end, my brothers and I were very much on his mind. It was like the pain-filled distance of those 30 years had closed a bit.

On Tuesday, his last good day, he told me that his parents had come to talk to him. He said they had a long talk, and a good talk. He also said that Betty had sat with him for a time, and they’d had a nice conversation.

He finally was at peace and was ready to go.

He passed on early Friday morning, and I was with him.

He came into this world surrounded by love, and 92 years later he stepped out of this world, again surrounded and embraced by love.

It was a good ending.

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Rediscovering Innocence

June 12th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

June 10th (Friday) at 2:25 am, my father passed on. He was three days shy of his 92nd birthday. I was with him those last few days, and thanks be to God, it was a peaceful ending. The blog below was written in October 2010, soon after he was moved into assisted living. Today, I’m so grateful that I was enabled to glimpse his inherent, God-given innocence. Because of that, I was able to comfort him at the end, and tell him that I loved him, and that I forgave him, and that he could go in peace. Two days before he passed, he told me that his parents had come to talk with him, and prepare him for his new life. I found that immensely comforting.

I’ve made a few poor choices in this life, but I’m thankful to see that now - in retrospect - I can lay my head on my pillow at night with no regrets as to the way I handled my father’s last years, weeks, and even days.

To God be the glory.

In June 2010, my 91-year-old father moved into assisted living. It’s been a flurry of activity, closing up his house, moving him to a new place, getting things settled, and dealing with the 101 details of his life. As his POA, the details seem to be endless.

Making all this ever more difficult is the fact that my father made many poor choices in life, such as walking out on his family in 1974. Suffice it to say, “Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves” was one of the most important books I ever read.

In 2001, after my father’s second wife died, my father reentered my life bit by bit. He was 82 years old.

Now he’s 91, and old and frail and needs a lot of help on a lot of fronts. Sometimes, despite my daily prayers and best efforts and dogged determination, there are days when I still feel angry with him.

When we were cleaning out his house, we found a baby book - his baby book - from 1919. I’d expected to find a few loose photos stuck within its brittled pages. Instead, I found an incredibly detailed record of a little boy’s life from June 1919 to sometime in 1926. The “baby book” was filled with vintage photos and detailed information and stories and even a locket of baby’s hair, safely ensconced in a tiny envelope with a delicate blue ribbon.

Looking at the handwritten notes, I saw my father in a new light. More than 90 years ago, he was someone’s beloved baby boy. This cute little baby, smiling back at me from the faded-pages of an antique book, warmed my heart and softened the wrath I’d felt.

I’ve heard it said that the kindest thing we can do for our heavenly Father is to be kind to his children. It occurs to me that - in addition to the divine command - perhaps the kindest thing I can do for my paternal grandparents is to be kind to their youngest son, their beloved little boy, Thomas.

Baby Boys in 1919

My father was a twin, born ten minutes after his brother "Junior." Here's their picture from Fall 1919. The caption (written by my grandmother) said, "In their buggy, Junior always reaches out to hold Thomas' little hand."

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"Junior" and Thomas at the park. Apparently, Thomas doesn't like the fact that Junior (left) has a toy and Thomas does not. Thomas is so rattled, he's on the verge of falling over.

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Thomas (left) and Edgar with their maternal grandparents, the Whitmores.

January 1920

January 1, 1920. Junior is on the left, Thomas on the right.

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Edward Atkinson Fuller Junior (left) and Thomas Hoyt Fuller (right)

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Not sure who's attending to the babies, but I'd guess it's Mother (Florence).

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A wicker basket built for two!

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A day at the park, July 1920. Edgar is on the left.

Boys

Somewhere in Denver, this photo shows the boys with their grandparents, but I wish I knew more.

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Thomas and Junior (front and rear) with their maternal grandparents, the Whitmores. Thomas is ready to get this tub on the road!

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Thomas (left) and Edgar about at about two years old.

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Awesome necklace

The Muscle Twins at Santa Monica Beach.

The Muscle Twins at Santa Monica Beach.

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Junior (Ed) on left, Mom (Florence Whitmore Fuller) and Thomas.

Thomas with his horsie

Thomas with his horsie

Being Californians, I guess Mother decided the boys needed private art lessons. I love the little berets on their heads.

Being Californians, I guess Mother decided the boys needed private art lessons. I love the little berets on their heads. This was from 1926, and the teacher is Mrs. Betts.

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Thomas is on the right. Edgar is holding "Stripes" (April 1926).

Dad

Thomas (left) and Edgar (Jr) in first grade in Los Angeles. This was a panoramic class photo, whittled down to the two boys. When I showed this picture to my father, he said they put a band around his head to keep his out-of-control thick hair in place.

My father in the early 1950s with two of his four children.

My father in the early 1950s with two of his four children. He had a tremendous physique and at 6'4" he was a commanding presence. In the late 1930s, he was a founding member of Muscle Beach on the Santa Monica shore. He and his twin brother worked out each morning on the beach. One morning when they appeared, one of the lifeguards yelled out, "Here come the Muscle Twins!" It was a name that stuck, and soon they became widely known as "The Muscle Twins." As friends started to join them for the morning workouts, locals dubbed the area "Muscle Beach."

My father in 2007, at my wedding. He was 87 years old here. Photo is copyright Dave Chance and can not be used without written permission.

My father in 2007, at my wedding. He was 87 years old here. Photo is copyright Dave Chance and can not be used without written permission.

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