As many here know I’ve experienced more than my fair share of personal adversity this month. It started with the suicide of my friend Jody Sherman. The impact of his death is still raw and a day doesn’t go by that i don’t think about him. The end of my marriage (with a dramatic flourish of being served a petition for separation by my mother-on-law of all people) and finally with the death of my Great Uncle Richard, Family Patriarch who was weeks from his 90th birthday.
In the olden frontier days when your brother died, propriety demanded you marry his wife. particularly if there were kids involved. My maternal Grandfather, Lee, died tragically before I was born leaving his two sisters Rene + Willie, my Mother’s aunts, to go on. Rene ended up marrying a phenomenal man with the most popular name in the family - Richard, (there are 7 of us and counting) he took on the informal, unofficial and never mentioned responsibility of being the family patriarch. A role he held for as long as I can remember and executed flawlessly and with dignity and strength.
I say phenomenal because Uncle Richard was possibly the most amazing man i have ever met. Though born in Germany through military incompetence and some skillful practice he ended up a fighter pilot in WWII. He flew p150 fighters escorting bombers over his home country and once even his birthplace. After dating my aunt Rene on six double dates before leaving for the war he painted her name on his plane and married her on his return, They were married for 60+ years. He worked in the oil business, Then moved into financial increment and management, starting and later selling a firm to Merrill lynch, All the while he drove 1+ hours a day to work in San Bernardino while raising his Family in an amazing house I still remember with love in the mountains of Running Springs. Snow, trees and cookies are what I remember of that house - and family.
My great Uncle Richard was about as close to a functional engaged Grandfather, as I ever had, he taught me the things a Grandfather was supposed to, Patriotism, family, how a man should love unconditionally. He opened my 1st stock trading account and taught me about money, and few will remember this but he taught me to play chess, until I beat him.
The house he and his family of six (2 x boys and 2x girls) was like a 2nd home for me. In fact my parents always told me and my brother that if anything ever happened to us we’d go to live with them, that thought gave me comfort.
His funeral was officiated by two Bishops and the entirety of the Diocese leadership was out in force. Then there was the family of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren - and even us cousins. It was awesome and made me feel sad for my inability to hold together even a single family. At the same time reminding me of the importance of family. I’m incredibly grateful for the way my family has rallied around me the past days in my divorce as well. These are the things that matter.
Uncle Richard was and is a role model for me of what it meant to be a man. I will miss him but am in awe of the life he lived,
Later this weeks the service for Jodie. Ill miss the big service however as I’m off for the wedding of my friend Nicole Schmidt, in Cartagena Columbia. Latin, creative, beautiful and diplomatic is how I’d describe her - but also she was the younger female version of Uncle Richard. A charismatic but grounded leader who loves all of humanity and leads by example, Though much younger, we has that same ability to be grounded and approachable and yet noble and kind. I can’t wait to see her marry a man and highly admire. She will for sure be a Matriarch some day.
A marriage dissolves, another begins, and two very different ends to two amazing lives, I am so happy for Nicole and cant wait to celebrate her marriage, I miss my friend Jody and my Great Uncle Richard. - but mostly and quite selfishly, I feel a little more alone.
RIP Richard Carl Herbst. 1923-2013
Richard D. Titus