Today, I honor my father, W. L. Uphoff, on the 20th anniversary of his burial.
My 26 cousins (and his five siblings) all called him “Lorney,” a childhood mash of his middle name Lawrence.
In WWII, he was known as Bill–a common-enough substitute for his first name William, but unusual to our family (we learned this fact much later, when we received notices about “Fiddler’s Glen,” the special spot in heaven reserved for Army veterans.)
We, his three daughters, moved from calling him Daddy when we were younger, to Pooh, or Pooh Bear, when we were older, which seemed like it should have been a kids’ name. Instead, it reflected his often-witty seriousness that we only grew to appreciate as we ourselves grew up.
In Cheyenne and the rest of the world, his clients, employees, fellow travel agents, and friends from all areas of his life–Kiwanis and Knights of Columbus, to our school board and Cowboy Joe Club–all called him Larry.
And they called him to serve. He was a soft-spoken, thoughtful, dependable leader. He was a good guy to have on your team or in your corner rooting for you.
Further, he loved sports, of all kinds; one of the first things I remember about our initials as girls–JU–was that they were the same as those of football star Johnny Unitas!
His passing, the Wednesday before Father’s Day in 1991, means that every year this holiday is a bittersweet milestone. Today, again the Wednesday before Father’s Day, I couldn’t let the occasion pass without remarking upon it.
I am blessed with many strengths and good qualities I inherited from my father.
I like to think I inherited his work ethic and deep sense of fairness; his blue eyes, which sometimes dimmed to gray, echo in my own. I feel he walks alongside me when I’m troubled and shares in my joys and successes.
Ten years ago, I wrote a guest column for Father’s Day in the Teton Valley News honoring him. In it, I asked readers to pay special attention to their own fathers, not just with a quickly-bought card for Sunday, but rather with sincere and appreciative recognition of all our dads have sacrificed for us.
In honor of my dad, I again make that request here, electronically, that your own loving memories are rekindled and hugs are shared.
This is one of my favorite pictures from my childhood–and one of my earliest memories. Maybe I just “remember” it because of the photograph? Anyway, taken somewhere near Estes Park, Colorado (I think), this was surely the only time we all wore matching shirts! Mom had one, too, but she must have been handling shutterbug duties. I’m the sloppy-looking towhead on the far right.