Sunday, March 15, 2009

Richard Lewis Kolm (1935-2009)

On Saturday, February 28th, my dad died. It doesn't seem like two weeks ago. It doesn't even seem real sometimes. A week ago, on March 8th, we held a lovely memorial "service", which more than 100 family, friends and colleagues attended. It meant a lot to me - to all of us - that so many people shared their memories with us.

I thought I'd share some of our memories with anyone else who might be interested.

- Richard Lewis Kolm Obituary (ANG Newspapers, March 6, 2009)
- Richard Lewis Kolm Biography (written by mom and shared at the memorial, 23.7Mb pdf)

My brother, Brian, and I sorted through and scanned lots of old photos which we posted around the chapel. I turned a handful of them into a slide show. Here's the video, via YouTube:

It was originally set to "Blue Monk", which Gene suggested.

Bri and I also stood up and talked about our own memories of dad. Here is approximately what I said:

One of the things I've been doing the past few days is sorting through more than 40 years worth of family photos. It's brought back so many happy memories – family trips, parties with family and friends, and the activities I did as a kid.

There aren't as many pictures of dad as I expected, though, probably because he was usually the one holding the camera. And when I think about dad, that's often how I remember him – with a camera or video recorder in his hand.

And while he didn't even make it into every roll of photos, he was always there. He was supportive of all my various extracurricular activities - even though I'm not sure he was really that interested in swimming or ballet or soccer. I could always count on his support.

Dad and I did share many interests. He was interested in science, and always encouraged me to study science myself.

His stories about his college days helped me decide to attend UC Berkeley. He made sure I was
well prepared for that too - I'm pretty sure I was the only Freshman in my dorm who already knew the California Drinking Song.

We also shared an interest in history and genealogy. We spent a lot of happy hours researching and compiling our family history. That's a project I plan to continue.

Of course in some ways we're really different. Dad liked to plan and organize, while my style is to do things haphazardly and at the last minute.

But he's always been there when I needed a helping hand, sometimes even before I'd asked for any assistance. He helped me build school projects, was with me when I bought my first car (my only car), and he would even jump right in and do dishes when he came over for dinner.

I admire how honest and responsible he was. Just as an example: when I was in elementary school he wouldn't help me sell Girl Scout cookies in his office. That's because he was a manager, and he didn't want to do anything that might seem like he was putting unfair pressure on the people who reported to him. I found that annoying at the time, but now I really respect that.

And, while he was very hard working, he always made sure he had time for us and for the things he enjoyed doing, like traveling and train watching.

I don't recall ever hearing him being spiteful or intentionally cruel.

I'm proud to be his daughter and I miss him very much.

The last line is really all I wanted to say. And I still have trouble reading it.

Thanks to everyone who has been their for us over the past few weeks. And thank you for being part of dad's life.

Photos, top to bottom (click for larger image):
- Me helping dad build the deck (1968)
- Off on a family trip (1973)
- Me and dad on a hike at Lake Tahoe (1977)
- Getting my PhD (1997)
- Mom and dad in New Zealand (1992)
- Dad, me, Gene and Brian (Christmas 2008
)

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Mom said...

Peg, thanks for the lovely tribute to your Dad. We all miss him so much. Love, Mom

12:06 AM  
Blogger Richard Lewis said...

I have my name on Google Alert (not for ego purposes but for career reasons) -- but enough about me, a complete stranger, this is a lovely tribute to your father. Sounds like a man I would have loved to have met and shared a story or two with.

5:07 PM  
Blogger Arvind Mishra said...

"I'm proud to be his daughter and I miss him very much."
Quite right Peggy ,
Your anecdotes are the testimony!
Be strong to withstand the great loss though it can not be compesated in any way.
Like father like daughter !

5:55 AM  
Blogger Peggy said...

{{{ Mom }}}
(that means "hugs")

Arvind and Richard: thank you for your kind words!

2:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was trying to find the poem with the same title as your blog lol. But I'm sorry for your loss. I know it was awhile ago, but I'm still sorry anyway. Hope all is going well for you. :)

-anon

2:58 PM  
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