My father, Robert Francis Dwyer was born December 27th, 1933- eighty years ago. Bob, Bobby, RF, Bobby D, Bob Awesome, Karaoke Bob, Uncle Bob, Grampa, Grumpa, Poppy, Mr. D, Mad dog and Onion Head as he is known to many of you, was one of four children born to Thomas (Dutch) & Marguerite Dwyer.
Recently, I was at a party and had a close friend approach me and ask how the planning for his surprise 80th birthday party was coming.
We got talking about it and Dad, when this person said to me –
“You know, your Dad is really a very accomplished guy. Over the course of his life he’s really done a lot.”
Later, that night I got thinking about Dad and all of his accomplishments.
Born at the height of the Great Depression to an Irish cop and stay at home mother, Dad’s memories as a child are of onion sandwiches, Bill Durries farm, his father’s Model-T car and summers spent on Lake Demons. He attended St. Ann’s school until eighth grade and then moved to the Hornell High School where he became an exceptional athlete. Earning varsity letters in track, swim and his claim to fame- soccer.
After graduating from HHS, Dad joined forces with the United States Navy and went to battle with Korea. Serving a four year tour he traveled around the world visiting places many of us will never see. From the Baffin Islands to Mt. Vesuvius he saw the world on a ship.
When his tour with the Navy had concluded he packed his ruck sack and traveled home. Following the footsteps of his father he became a Hornell City Police Officer. While working the beat one day, he saw a dark haired, blue eye beauty leave a soda shop from across the street from where he was standing. Turning to the cop he was walking with, he said, pointing to the woman “You see that girl? That’s the girl I’m going to marry.”
Little did he know that a year later he would be introduced to that very girl. Patricia Burke was a nursing student a St. James Mercy Hospital and was not impressed by the man asking her to dance. She thought he was a little too arrogant for his own good. But his handsome face and charming personality won her over and a year later at the Kilbuck in Canisteo, he asked her to be his wife.
A young twenty six and twenty they began their journey together. With his own two hands my father built the house they live in today. Together he and my mother raised their family of five children in that very house.
Over the years Dad worked the railroad as a brakeman, maintained a license as a barber and cut hair out of his shop in the garage, he worked as a union carpenter and had a side business as a shrub master. A jack of all trades, he knows enough about a lot. I spent my life watching him repair cars, lawn mowers, furnaces, boat motors, motorcycles, build additions, fix plumbing issues, rewire electric, cut holes in walls, invent things, chop wood, repair masonry, plow driveways, put roofs on, pave parking lots and so much more. In truth, there is not much dad can’t fix or do.
In addition to his many career accomplishments, Dad has been a great outdoorsman his entire life, hunting and fishing with his family and friends. From turkey to deer and blue gill to bass- he is an expert rifleman, a dead shot with a bow and arrow and can fry up the best fish you’ve ever had.
Sports have always been important to dad and even now he’s a huge supporter of his grandchildren and great nephew’s athletics. And if you’re brave enough to endure the wrath of a bad shot, you’ll find a competitive golfer on the course.
Dad’s fifty-four years of marriage, five children, thirteen grandchildren and two great grandchildren add merit to his many life accomplishments and ensure that his legacy lives on. At eighty years old he is still as rugged as a bull. Some grow old, yet never truly age. That’s my dad. Congratulations on eighty years of accomplishments. Happy Birthday Dad.