November 13, 2013
I don't remember the day that I met Bob Falley. It seems as if I have always known him. Big guy (no overweight....strong) with always a smile on his face. He always looked happy and his words spoke the same.
I would often see him and Dorris walking in the neighborhood behind our building and loved stopping to talk with them. Their love for each other and for others just seemed to glow from them like a beacon. Their love of God filled them so full. It reminds me of a song that I sang in my youth in church. This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.....theirs shown brightly.
I saw them just a couple of weeks ago. They had stopped to rest behind the diner. Judy and I walked over and chatted with them for a bit as they rested. It is a memory that I will always cherish as it was the last time that I saw Bob.
Last Tuesday, I returned to the diner after stopping to see John Spence and finding him gone. Mary told me that she was told that Bob had passed on. I said, "you must be thinking of John.". She said, "No, Bob. They guy who always walks behind us with his walker". I called the office to hear the news. Bob had fallen asleep in his chair and not woken up.
I called the house and talked with Doris's sister. Then Judy and I went over to the house taking with us a copy of Bob's Band of Brothers story and the video of his encounter with the Oregon Ducks. While we were friends, it was those two items that had brought us the closest.
I recall it well. I had just had discussions with the director of football at Oregon where he agreed to open up a spring practice to WW2 vets as an inspiration to their players. I saw Bob and Doris walking. I pulled up alongside of them in the car and rolled down the window. I asked Bob if he liked football. He said yes. I asked him if he liked the Ducks. He said yes. I asked him if he would like to go see them. He said, 'go see them play?". I said, "Would you like to meet them?". He stopped and looked over at me and said, "Would I?!". He was one of the most excited men that we took with us.
I still remember him speaking to the Ducks on their knee in the middle of the field after he was introduced. He smiled and waved. Then he thanked them for letting him come. "Boy, do I have something to tell my kids and grandkids today!", he said.
So, when the Ducks offered to video two of the guys during the spring game, one of them in my head was Bob. I called him on the phone on the way home that day. I asked him if he were going to the spring game with us. He said that the practice had beaten him up a bit and that he would probably not be going. I then told him of the video. He said that it sounded like fun but he was still unsure. I told him to think about it and talk it over with Doris. I said I could give him 5 minutes before I would move on to the next vet.
Twenty minutes later, I got the call back..."Are my 5 minutes up?". A few minutes later he called again, "Can Doris go?". He and the other vet, Jack Cooper, were the perfect men to go.
The video is on youtube and goducks.com. It is called "Through their eyes". My daughter, Trinity videoed at Jake's and on the way over with one of the Ducks cameras and then we met two videographers at the game. We had to find seats at the game and my buddy Frank was able to get some for us but they were at the top of a tall set of steps. I walked with Bob up the steps and showed him their seats. "This is great", he said, "But I have to pee!". The level just a step above us was shut down. So, we had to walk all the way back down those steps. Then all the way back up. I knew Bob's knees and hips were bothering him and I was glad when we got back up to the seats. There is a part in the middle of the video where Bob is speaking in front of a grey brick wall and telling how grateful that he is. It was just after he had gotten out of the bathroom so it will always remind me of that part of the event and story. Bob glowed that day and it is evident in the video.
Judy got to take Bob and Doris over and back from the game. She said they sang all the way over and all the way back. It was when I learned of Bob's love for singing. I guess he was known for standing up in church and belting out a song. That trip drew Judy into the couple even deeper.
So, when I found out that Tuesday, I didn't go out with my vet buddies as I do most Tuesdays but I waited for her at Jake's as I knew the word of Bob's passing would be like a second barrel of a shotgun to her. She loved both of those men so dearly.
We had Bob's service on Thursday. I was granted the honor of speaking his story that he and I had worked on earlier in the year and I was honored to present to the guys at one of the meetings. The day before, the pastor at the church called me to let me know that I needed to change a couple of words in the story. I said that I was aware and that I could change fart to flatulence and asshole to ahole.
I sat in the front row of the church praying and preparing to present the story of this close friend. I realized that I had not changed the words in the story and that I did not have a pen. I found a couple of friends a few rows behind me and asked them for a pen. One of them gave me a pen from her purse. I had misspoken the word flatulence earlier when talking to Judy so as I wrote it out, I asked her if I was pronouncing it right. They all laughed and she said, "I can't wait to hear this story!". As I sat back down, she yelled up for effect, "Remember, it's flatulence, Lyle!" I thought I had done well until I ran into the same lady at supper last evening. I asked her how the story sounded to her. She said it sounded great....except I slipped up and said fart instead. We all had a good laugh when I said, "Maybe that is why the pastor didn't speak to me afterward.".
As I rose and entered the stage to present the story, visions of my friend flashed in front of me. All of a sudden the grief from the loss hit me like a truck. The tears welled and I began to choke up. I took a deep breath and prayed while the pastor introduced me. I barely heard his words and all of a sudden I was up there in front of the crowd with the mic in my hand. A calm washed over me as I looked down at the smiling face of Doris. This is the story that I presented:
I was born on May 8th, 1925 at home on a dairy farm in Topeka, Kansas. My father worked on the farm. Later he began selling fruits and vegetables. I remember that he sold lots of watermelons. They were large melons and he sliced them in fourths. 10cents a slice. The summers got into the 100’s so dad sold tons.
He also had a Nehi pop route to other towns and he would take me with him. I would drink up the profits. I would sleep on the floor boards and dad on the seats.
In 32, we moved to a farm west of Topeka. 25 acres of garden farm. Radishes, turnips, green onions, beets, carrots, parsnips, lettuce, tomatoes plus much more. We were poor but I never knew it. Always had food galore, apple pies, and plenty of cow’s thick cream.
Played football all four years of high school. I was a 225# fullback. Made all state. Ran track also but spring was garden time so I could only practice 15 minutes a day. I threw discus and shot put. I actually won most of my meets.
I met Doris in my senior year of high school. We just hit it off 4-0 right away. Of course that cute 110# blond came to every one of my football games. But when I shipped out to the Navy, I had thought it better for Doris and I to get married when I came home. She didn’t feel the same and we were hitched August 9, 1943.…70 years later, she was definitely the right one!
Graduated in 43 and went right into the Navy. Spent boot camp in Farragut, Idaho and then on to diesel school in Ames, Iowa. Went to PT boat training in Rhode Island and then shipped out of Treasure Island to New Guinea.
I was attached to PT boat 332 out of the Philippines and ended up on the Island of Zamboanga. My duty was the engine room and three 1500 cubic inch, 12 cylinder Packard engines. There was dual exhausts on each and they sounded so sweet. She could do 52 knots at top speed (60mph). Not bad for a 20x80 all wood boat.
A bunch of us guys were sitting around one day and we were discussing the properties of the gas that comes from a fart. Well, one of the guys was willing to be a guinea pig. He bent over and let one go right over a lighter. Wow, it ignited just like a torch….lit that guys butt right up. There were belly laughs all around….except for one guy.
We ended up in a convoy that headed to Okinawa. Three days of Bombers, Kamakazies, and Torpedo Bombers that flew just feet off of the water. We lost several ships and we saw no survivors. My GQ station was passing ammo to the 40mm cannon on our stern. We counted 52 bullet holes in the ship after the battle. Since the torpedo planes flew amongst the ships and all were firing on them, many of the holes were from friendly fire.
Pete, our torpedo man was laying on the deck next to the torpedo during one of the fire fights. “Pete”, I yelled over at him, “What are you doing?“ “Getting away from bullets!“ he yelled back. “What about that 300# of TNT in that torpedo next to your head!?”. Pete moved.
We hooked up a magneto to our skippers chair in the topside cockpit. Mr Eggley sat down and we spun the magneto. He came off of that seat pronto shocked but then started smiling when he realized the prank. We had actually set it up for Frank…our ninety day wonder. Well, Frank finally got his turn and Wow….was he mad! “I’m putting you all on report!”, he yelled. The skipper came to our rescue as he calmly spoke to Frank, “Not as long as I am Captain.”. Frank was transferred two days later. We all said good riddance because he was…..an asshole.
I had enough points for discharge but my rate was frozen so they placed me on a mine sweep. I talked to the Captain and he signed my discharge. I never unpacked. Went back to the states on a baby flat top. It was huge. Golden Gate, Treasure Island, Norman, Oklahoma, and then home. I was so happy.
In 46, we moved out to Eugene, Oregon in the back of a covered dump truck. Kind of like a covered wagon of sorts. Went right to work hauling gravel. I worked all over down in Southern Oregon.
The greatest event in my life happened in Days Creek in 49. Dorris and I were saved at our house. Jean Brown introduced Doris to Jesus and she introduced him to me. I have never been the same since. All my customers at the truck service station asked me what happened to me. I told them and I have never stopped talking about it since.
From there we moved to Portland and I ended up working 35 years in the insurance sales field. 10 in Portland and 25 in Bend. Dorris and I have raised four kids and love our lives. I believe our secret is our love of God.
I am Petty Office Second Class Robert Eugene Falley (yup, another Bob) and a proud servant of God
I ran into some of his family this last weekend. I gave them pictures of Bob from the day that he had visited the Ducks. I did not realize until that day that I had pictures of him shaking hands with Marcus Mariota and Josh Huff. And, there was a special one of him speaking to the Ducks on their knee in the middle of the field. We talked of how excited he was that day. They said that he had called them all and told them when he got home.
I still remember something that the pastor stated when talking at the service. He said, "This is one service where no one has to lie. Usually in a service for someone, we sometimes have to build up a story or two....but not Bob".
I will dearly miss Bob. Judy and I both agreed....there is surely more singing going on in Heaven today.
Judy took this picture of the sunset the day that Bob passed on.
This little light of mine....I'm gonna let it shine.....it was as if Bob's light was still shining.