Today will be a rough day…. we say good bye to my Dad, Robert Milfred Heldreth (aka Milfred Lee or Bob). I’ve gone back and forth trying to decide what to write. I have decided to be true to sharing my strengths, hopes and experiences with my readers.
Dad was born in El Monte, CA, as Milfred Lee Heldreth (otherwise known as Bob) where he joined the Army when he was 15. Of course he had to change his birth certificate so he could serve his country. He served for 7 years and was a member of A Troop 66th Squadron 6th Regiment serving in Dergendorf, Germany for two years. Dad told this story often but the reality hit when we found the “corrected” discharge papers from the Army.
He loved working with his hands and held a variety of jobs – a real “jack of all trades”. He was always building something. He changed our garage into a family room. He built a deck off the house. He even built a trailer which we used when we traveled cross country. And then there was the endless hours spent working on cars. He bought my first car and spray painted it blue for me. I was not initially happy with it because it was a stick shift BUT I learned to love it. He taught me how to change a tire, and check my oil so when Belinda got her license they were things I taught her before she could go out on her own driving. His garage and his tools are a true testament to his love of fixing things. Dad’s jobs came with perks…. being the manager of the Monmouth Bottle Shop got us a trip to Acapulco when I was 13 years old.
He was a ham radio operator with the call letters WA2IAE. He loved connecting with people all across the world and being able to help others. Many of my school projects were done with the help of dad’s connections. Postcards and items from across the country were always good for bonus points.
Dad was loving and kind, nonjudgmental and accepting. Yes, there were tough times with years of anger and hurt when my parents divorced. Dad was not perfect. He admitted his faults, and even with memories of bad times, I forgave him. No matter how bad a situation was, he always found the silver lining and worked through it.
Dad loved to tell stories which always left us wondering if they were true or just a tall tale. Did he really eat bugs as a kid growing up? He shared many stories with my daughter who as a child was always ready to share them with her classmates. Of course, the teachers sometimes wondered if they were true too.He leaves a legacy filled with memories for his family and friends. Dad liked to cook especially on the grill. Didn’t matter if there was snow or rain, he found a way to grill. He was best known for his mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving – no lumps. Despite our best efforts, none of us have ever gotten the hang to it. Then there were his potato pancakes made with the left over mashed potatoes. Mom and dad actually served breakfast to the entire Junior Class of OTHS after the Prom in 1974. Yes, the entire class.
He was a Past Master of Asbury Lodge #142 F&AM, a Past Patron of Neptune Chapter #214 and a past member of the Advisory Board for Iris Assembly #31, Order of the Rainbow for Girls.
Dad taught me many lessons which have helped to mold me into the person I am today. I love you dad!