Mr. Jim - my father


Mr. James R. Requa, 93, of Niceville, Florida and formerly of Luthersville, died Tuesday, November 24, 2009, at his home.

The funeral service will be conducted at 1:30 p.m., Friday, November 27, at the graveside in the Luthersville Cemetery, with the Reverend Randall Hodge officiating.

Mr. Requa was born April 18, 1916, in White Plains, NY, son of the late James Williams Requa and the late Emma Dewsnap Requa. He received his bachelors and masters degrees from the State University of New York at Oswego, and was a retired teacher, having taught on both the high school and college levels.

Survivors include his wife, Lucille D. Requa of Niceville, FL, sister, Elizabeth Kelley of Newnan, GA, children and their spouses, John Sarno of Panama City, FL, Jimmy and Cindy Requa of Luthersville, GA, Maria and Thomas Mosley of Freeport, FL, Melody and Fred Squires of Jupiter, FL, and Anita Powell of Freeport,FL, sixteen grandchildren, and several great- grandchildren.

Claude A. McKibben and Sons Funeral Home of Hogansville is in charge of arrangements.

Mr. Jim is my father whom we buried on the day after Thanksgiving, 2009. Of course, I called him "Dad" but the people in Luthersville, GA where he lived called him Mr. Jim or sometimes Cadillac Jim.

He was my father for 64 years, so I hardly know where to start. I'll just bounce around and you'll get the idea.

Dad lived in Georgia longer than anyplace else - from 1968 until 2005 when he moved to Florida to be near his daughter, my sister, Maria. Right about that time he "bumped into" a woman in a Goodwill store and married her - well - yes, it was about that quick. You can see their wedding photos here. He was 89 and Lucille was 84. They were still newlyweds when they had to part - so sad.

First the last.

How did he die? He just slowed down and stopped. He lived a life he loved and he died the way he wanted to die when he was just about ready. He said many times he didn't want to be in a hospital or nursing home with wires and tubes attached. I'm happy that he never had to face that.

He spent the last few weeks at home with his wife, Lucille, and his daughter, Maria, and some Hospice helpers.

Maria and he spent the last days cleaning up loose ends and saying all the things that needed to be said.

Finally, he just kept sleeping but stopped breathing, holding Maria in his arms - daddy's little girl.

Jack of all trades, master of most.

Dad was a man who knew how to do stuff - like the romanticized people of a century ago who only bought raw materials and hand-made everything else. Mostly those people really were not like that, but Dad was. He built houses, but not like most people build houses. He drew the plans, and did it just about all himself. A man with a bulldozer made a hole and a big cement mixer truck poured the basement floor. After that it was just dad. He floated the concrete, laid the blocks for the basement walls, framed it, put down the floors, shingled the roof, did the wiring and the plumbing, the cabinetry, the finishing, all of it. I was little when I first remember working with him - handing him nails or picking the next piece of oak flooring or holding the end of the long board as he fed it through the table saw.

He was also an excellent auto-body man, a master mechanic, a welder, a machinist, a boat builder, a model maker. He taught mechanical drafting, aircraft pilot ground school, high school industrial arts.

All of that is just stuff about him that people found exceptional. This page is about who he was to me as a father and teacher and as an example of how to live.

The beginning, for me, is as far back as I recall.

The Great Blizzard of 1947 struck the Northeast on January 1. I remember Dad carrying me up the hill to my grandparent's house. It was already dark and it was snowing. The car could not get up the hill so he and Mom walked up and he carried me. Ten, or so, years later he told me the only time he carried me up that hill was in that blizzard. He was amazed that I remembered it. I was not yet two years old.

My first memories include toys he made for me. I remember blocks in big net bags - probably bags that originally held oranges. My blocks were not like blocks other kids had. Dad made them from scraps left over from things he had built. New ones showed up often. There were little pieces of 2x4, triangles of 1 by something, chunks of tongue and groove flooring, pieces of dowel, trim, and moldings, bunches of identical pieces and lots of one-of-a-kind blocks. I could build anything with those blocks or just sort them into stacks by size or shape or texture.

There was a big puzzle of the United States about three feet wide and two feet high. Dad had glued a big map to a sheet of ¾ inch plywood. Then he had made a rectangular frame with a masonite back and wood edges and, of course, he had cut each state out with a jigsaw. It was so big and solid. Each state was a handful - well, New Jersey and Delaware were fun because they were small but tall (thick like the others). I have no idea how many times I dumped it out on the floor and put all the states back in place. I knew where every one went and, although I couldn't read, I don't remember not knowing all their names. Maybe I didn't know they had names. My favorite was West Virginia with that long pointy thing.

Dad answered all my questions. He was so good at answering questions that, whenever we were alone I was imagining what I wanted to know so I could ask him while I had the chance. Sometimes he would get started and then say, "I can't explain that without a pencil." and that evening or the next day he would get one of those pads I never see anymore (white pages about 5 inches wide by 8 inches high and glue across the top) and he would start sketching and explaining. I remember the time it was how a gasoline engine works. That was both more complicated and more wonderful than I expected. There were two kinds to learn about, four stroke cycle and two stroke cycle. He warned me that some people just say four cycle and two cycle and showed me that what's really being counted is the strokes that make up the cycle. He only had to show me stuff once, but I would usually be back asking about the details and he would have those answers too. He didn't often not know, but I might as well say it now - one of the best things about Dad was that when he didn't know, he said, "I don't know."

When you lock somebody out of something you challenge them to get in, a mistake many parents make.

If you ask me the most important thing Dad did for me, I might tell you he told me the truth, or that he let me see what life is like for adults, or that he trusted me. Trust might be the wrong word. What he did was allow me to make decisions even though he knew some would be poor ones.

What I remember when I was little and there was something dangerous is that he would tell me about it. He told me how I might get tangled up in it, what the danger was, what to do if I saw it was happening, what the worst consequences might be (for me and for him), and he told me what to do or not do to stay safe. I got in a lot less trouble than other kids I knew. When my friends said they had a great idea how to do this or that, I was the one saying, "You better not and here's why." I would be far away if they went ahead with it. When I did get into something I couldn't fix, the first one I told was Dad - and I got very little of, "I told you so." What I usually got was, "Oh, no! That was stupid - stupid - what a mess!" Then he would pretend to be about to hit me and give me a smile instead and, "You crazy kid!". After that it was, "Okay, what do we do now? How about this?" He was always there to help clean it up.

More important than the trouble I stayed out of and the trouble he helped me fix, was all the wonderful stuff I got to do. You see, he trusted me. He trusted me to remember what he said and use my common sense most of the time. For example, when I was about 12 and very interested in electronics, I heard about Cortlandt Street in New York City which had electronics stores and just about nothing else for block after block. I wanted to go there. We lived on a lake in the country about 40 miles north of the city. Dad told me I was pretty young to go to New York City all by myself. He told me a little about how to be safe - stay in areas where there are lots of people, look like I know where I am, and like I'm busy getting where I'm going. I had already found maps and found out exactly where the stores were. He gave me a few tips about subways, including to ask other riders if I need help. He told me if I was completely lost, just get in a cab and say I want to go to Grand Central Station. Then he gave me the same speech I remember so often - about how he was trusting me more than other people think he should and how I was a smart kid and he knew I could handle it if I would be careful and keep my head on straight. He told me to have fun and to please, please, don't make those other people right. Then he drove me to Katonah where I got the train to New York City. For four or five years I went to the city many times buying electronic parts, the first transistor radio my friends had ever seen, tape recorders, and much more. I had many good and some scary experiences and got tricked and swindled a few times but managed to stay away from anything really dangerous. I didn't want to get hurt of course and, for sure, I didn't want Dad to have those "other people" saying they told him so.

This is just one of many things I got to do that gave me such a rich life. I'll be sure to tell you more as I add to this page.

How it got here Who am I? Cindy - my soul-mate Mr. Jim - my father James - DeeJay babyblu Dana - EMT - RN TerraGraphics