A good man passed away last week. Not just some guy, not just another of the “greatest generation” but a close friend of the family and the man I was named after. We shared more than a name though. Arthur Regenold Jr. was a fixture in my life growing up, frequently stopping by our home when I was a child. He was probably the only man I know who could get away with teasing my father unmercifully! He was generous and gracious, a man of very few words but each and every word he spoke was worth listening to attentively.
He was a quiet and gentle man but a “man’s man” in a way that is far too uncommon today. A man who answered the call of World War II and who was married to the same woman for over 60 years. A man who would go grouse hunting with my father and I but seemed far more interested in enjoying being in the woods than he was in shooting birds. Even as an older man (and Art always seemed old to me!) he had that sort of pace in the woods that made other men scramble to keep up with him, especially guys with short legs like my dad and I! Art owned a very sizeable property on Black Lake, Michigan that we visited as a family every summer over the fourth of July and whenever we went, there was Art. He was always doing something, working on a boat, putting in his dock, helping someone else with a project. The vacation spot that Art owned was probably worth a great deal of money but you would never know it from meeting Art, a guy who preferred flannel shirts, work pants and quilted vests. The only time he dressed up was when he put on his “marryin’ and buryin’ suit” and I can count the number of times I saw him dressed like that on one hand.
Art was hardly a politically correct guy. That is the understatement of the year! He liked scotch and growing up I always remember him smoking some nasty brown cigarettes. I am also confident that he never once turned down someone who needed his help. I have a hard time writing about him without tears welling up in my eyes. I am sure he never knew how important he was to me but he is someone I will always remember with the very fondest of memories. I still remember him telling me stories of World War II or calling my dad “The Big Kahuna” as an affectionate tease. For me Black Lake will always be integrally linked to Art Regenold and there is no place more special for me in the world.
You can read Art’s obituary here. My life is richer for having known Art Regenold growing up. How we could use more men with his spirit and wisdom in America today. Good-bye my friend.