Remembering Ed, David and Bob

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, July 7, 2016

Another beloved centenarian has now gone to his reward. I visited Lion Ed Weeks at White Oak nearly every week and many Lions attended the celebration of his 100th birthday there a year and a half ago.

I always called him “Mister Ed” and he seemed to enjoy the reference to television’s talking horse (“horse sense” comes to mind). Ed did not relish being put out to pasture . . . he wanted to be in his garden or on the golf course!

At Lions meetings Ed sat next to Frank Smith, except when Fran’s Mom came to visit. Then it was great to watch them share her as she sat between them and they talked of times before most other Lions were born. Mr. Ed was always on hand to help with whatever our Lions Club was doing. We all have missed his smiling countenance and cheerful attitude.

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I feel that I must tell you about the recent passing of the next-to-last living member of Doolittle’s raiders of the Japanese home islands in April of 1942. They flew 16 B-25s off the carrier Hornet (named “Shangri-La” by Roosevelt when he announced the raid to the public) and bombed selected military targets before mostly crash landing in China. That little raid was about the only good news to come from the Pacific theater during those early months after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor to force our involvement in WWII.

I still have my copy of “Thirty Seconds over Tokyo,” the book by pilot Ted Lawson made into a movie shortly after. I felt as if I knew the crew, so I called their crew chief and turret gunner, David Thatcher, a few years ago to ask him a couple of questions: first question was did he stop addressing Lt. Lawson as “Sir” as suggested by Lawson​, and we both laughed as we agreed that we enlisted personnel do this not only by training, but also out of real respect for our officers.

The other question was did Lawson become an aero engineer as he had mentioned in the book . . . No, he opened a casting shop in the Los Angeles area and probably made more money than he would have as an engineer. I gave Thatcher several opportunities to end our conversation, but he continued for some 20 minutes, chatting as one ol’ Sarge to another.

We have also lost another “friend of long standing” (I don’t call them “old” friends now) that I feel I should tell you about. Bob Sigler worked at the Newport News shipyard, but acquired a lot more skills than his job there required. He said that someone had asked him why he was able to do so many things, and he answered, “That’s easy; because I grew up poor!” A matter of survival, you see.

One of his sons was learning to play their tired old upright piano, and when I went to tune it, we talked of its needs and their costs. Knowing Bob’s skills, I asked whether he would like do the work himself. That’s how we came to completely rebuild that piano with new strings, hammers, damper felts, etc.

Bob also pulled in enough land from his waterfront property to add two new houses on it in due time. He was an imaginative landscaper, so his house became a showplace. He was always doing things for others, so many have benefitted from his friendship as well as enjoying his company when available.

After my columns are published in the Bulletin, I email them to friends all around our country. One commented that he enjoys them, but wondered why he kept on reading about people he did not know.

He wrote, “we find ourselves developing a kinship and affection for that once total stranger, who is now truly missed because of their generous sharing of gifts and insights. —Bob in Baltimore.”

Bob and I have been friends since we served together in the Air Force. For years we visited each other in person, but now must visit by e-mail. I am thankful for the Internet and my computer that connects me with the world—including all those “friends of long standing.”