Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Thoughts on My Dad's Life

Albert L. Goodrich, beloved family man and aviator extraordinaire, died peacefully in the loving company of his family on Tuesday night, January 6th, 2015, just two weeks shy of his 84th birthday. He and his wife Corinne celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in December.

Al had lived through 12 years of Alzheimers. He and Corinne gracefully navigated through the course of this illness from their home, called 'Back Acres Ranch', on Goose Rocks Road in the 'Port'.

A native Mainer, and ten generation Kennebunkporter, Al came from humble beginnings. "I was born on the banks of Tyler Brook," Al was fond of saying.  After beginning his education at one of Kennebunkport's two-room schoolhouses, Al graduated from Kennebunk High School.

His father, George Goodrich, was a lobsterman in Cape Porpoise and his mother, Sadie ran the roadside clam hut called 'Sadie's Swimming Lobsters' on the Mills Road. Dad loved to recount the stories of his youth, including the time he helped his father beat the flames from the fire of '47 off the roof of their home at the age of 17.  He is in a famous early photo of the town, playing baseball in the road down in the center of Cape Porpoise, in order, he said, to 'hold up tourist traffic'.

Al had a sociable nature, a talent for adventure and a head for detail. He was an unhurried man, painstaking about his talents which he developed into hobbies, and achievements. He also encouraged these traits in his daughters, in whom he took evident pride.

Al took a lively interest in the world and was a lifetime learner, acquiring many skills along the way that inspired friends and family to live to up to their best potential. He demonstrated the confidence that a person could do anything they chose to with their life and believed that a person's circumstances created opportunities to explore.

His love of flying led him into building model airplanes, which evolved into buying and flying and then building them himself, in his hangar, on their property, where they made a landing strip in the field and took off with children and grandchildren in tow.

His mechanical aptitude and deep curiosity led him to work on motors and build things that helped save time and trouble.

He also built two homes and barns and workshops and a hangar and furniture. They were the penultimate do-it-yourselfers; they didn't preach their lifestyle, they simply lived it.

When he started forgetting, Al accepted his situation with grace and patience. He had by this time built an 'ultralight' an experimental aircraft and was an honorary member of the EAA.

Al decided early on that lobstering was not for him. Instead, he left his Swampscot Dory behind to take up a twenty year career in the Air Force. At that time, you could not become an officer without college background. However, Al was one of the last people eligible to join the Cadets, a pilot training program. He earned his B.A. in history while working his way up the ranks to becoming, eventually, a Major, Crew Commander and pilot of B-52's. Al flew over 100 missions in Vietnam and flew in many overseas engagements, including Korea.

After his retirement, which came in his forties, Al worked at a variety of careers as teacher, supervisor, and was a pilot for his own charter company, 'Call-Air-Inc.'

After his four daughters were teenagers, he and Corinne built their first house on the Stone Road and moved the family to Kennebunkport, where they worked on their land. They cleared woods, built ponds, gardens and stone walls, raised Polled Hereford cows, grew a Victory Garden and practiced an early version of what would later be called 'sustainable living'.

Many people grew up watching his famous home-built Piper Cub airplanes take off and land from the hangar and runway on their land near Goose Rocks Beach.

When the grandchildren came, they were treated to the classic country farm experience, along with trips in the plane with Grampy. He raised four daughters: Laurie, Lisa, Karen and Wendy, who raised 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Through this all, their home has welcomed friends and family.

Saying that Al Goodrich will be sorely missed is an understatement. That's the way how it is, he would say to us, smiling.

No comments:

Post a Comment