Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…. And as the dust settles, it’s time to report that my dad died late Monday night, August 17th. If he’d lived to September 1st, he’d have been 81.
He didn’t want to die. He made that quite clear as he struggled and fought against the disease that ravaged his body. He hung on for what seemed an eternity, but finally succumbed after nine days of refusing food. Yet another cancer death. Melanoma consumed him quickly in the last few months, especially the final four weeks.
Dad fought hard, refusing to let go, even when it was painfully obvious he would not win this battle. He never gave up, always holding out hope for healing.
He lived a great life—long, full and rich. From the Great Depression to the “Great Recession,” he got to do pretty much whatever he wanted all along, his independent spirit always guiding the way. He loved life, embraced it fully, and always said he wanted to live to be 100. I know he’s still loving life, in whatever form or fashion. In fact, I’d venture to say he’s now having a lot more fun with a lot less struggle.
He loved books and bookstores, and he loved sharing his beliefs with people, especially ideas that would empower people to live life more fully. He was always joking and kidding around, striving to turn a frown into a grin on some unsuspecting stranger. He was good at that.
Dwight Ennis McLeod Jr. was interested in a wide variety of things. He never stopped learning, always reading and studying, from economics and politics to metaphysics and history. He loved searching back through time to discover how the roots of our family and Scottish ancestry spread out and mingled with history. He was a great father, always available, loving and supportive.
My dad was born and raised in Kerrville, Texas. He graduated from Tivy High School and Schreiner Institute (now Schreiner University), both in Kerrville. He graduated in 1949 From Texas A & I in Kingsville (Texas College of Arts & Industries, now A & M).
He saw combat in the Korean War, having been drafted into the army and serving as an aide-de-camp to a brigadier general at Ft. Hood before shipping off to serve in Korea. He volunteered for combat because of a shortage of troops.
My brother and I learned to catch trout from mountain streams in Colorado from my dad. I gained a deep appreciation of nature and the Rocky Mountains because of numerous camping trips with my family while growing up in Colorado.
Having been raised Methodist, my dad discovered a more metaphysical approach to viewing life’s mysteries in the late 1950s. This fascination led him to a strong involvement in the Church of Religious Science for decades to come. He was an enthusiastic leader in the church organization, serving on the international board in Los Angeles for five years. He was instrumental in the development of an extremely successful church in Denver, and he founded the first RS church in Austin back in 1980.
He owned, operated and started several used bookstores in Texas, including The Book Exchange in Austin. He loved to start a store from scratch, build it into a thriving business, and then sell it and move on to his next project.
I know without a doubt, he has now moved on to his next project. He always referred to death as “graduation day,” thus, congratulations and a celebration of life are in order.
I love you Dad! We miss you and we wish you well on your way! Enjoy the cruise!
Memorial service Sunday, 4 p.m. August 30 at the Austin Center for Spiritual Living, 4804 Grover Ave. in Austin, 78756