“Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”
I’ve been agonizing how to say goodbye to the person who was always there when we faltered, and who always provided us with the port in the storm.
He gave us a wonderful life. He gave us a wonderful family, my mom Shirley, his wife of almost 56 years, my sister Cindy, brother James, and of course his beloved grandkids, Kristine, Eric, Grace and Jeffery Robert.
How do you say goodbye to a man who left a long trail of memories that span over more than 81 years.
Robert Harold Chantler was born in Oneonta, New York August 29, 1926 to Harold and Bessie Chantler. His sister Gladys was 10 years older so although she often served as a surrogate Mom, they enjoyed a very close loving relationship. He grew up during the depression in Sidney, NY and at the age of 17 he convinced his mother to give her permission for her only son to join the US Navy during WWII, where he served on the USS Heywood L. Edwards, DD663
My sister loved this photo and as a little girl would always ask to see the picture of Dad with the “bar of soap” on his head.
When he returned after serving for 19 months in the Pacific, he finished High School and went on to Ithaca College on the GI Bill. This is where he met and married my Mom.
As kids we spent every holiday and most Sunday afternoons, with the Chantler clan and there was always lots of good food, lots of card playing and lots and lots of laughter and always lots of love.
Dad lived and loved with great passion mixed with lots of humor.
I don’t think I can ever remember a time where Dad couldn’t find humor in any situation, and often it was irreverent, which may explain how Dad saw life, with optimism and humor. There were few things in life that Dad didn’t love including mischief and mayhem. He was the first one you would suspect if you became the victim of one of his practical jokes. He was never malicious, and it was always in good fun. If you ever managed to pull one off on him, which was rare, he always laughed the hardest and loudest. All while planning his next move.
How do you say goodbye to one of the strongest people I’ve ever known, I only remember seeing him cry once and that was when my brother James became very ill as a newborn, of course at the time I thought it was because I had broken the buckle on my new shoes. But Dad was there day and night, sometimes he seemed to be every where at once, like when my sister was born and she and my mom were in one hospital, and I just happened to be sick with pneumonia in another hospital. Poor Dad spent at least a week, just running back and forth from hospital to hospital with little or no sleep.
How to say goodbye to the Dad who taught me everything I ever needed to know. I remember one day when I was around 8 or 9 I ran home crying because one of the neighborhood kids had pushed me off a swing. He looked me in the eye, showed me how to make a proper fist, and sent me off to ‘take the swing back’. I did.
Dad had many careers in his life, and because of this we moved a lot. Like gypsies, Dad would move to a new job, and Mom would be the one to pack us up and drive to the new location with three kids and a dog in tow. Because we moved so much, I always assumed that it was those experiences that taught us how to make friends fast. But I see now that it wasn’t the moves, it was probably a gene we got from Dad.
Although he had many jobs that took him all over the world, I think his most exciting one when he became the Program Manager for the Apollo Lunar Landing Module (LEM) simulator. That simulator became crucial in helping to get the men of Apollo 13 back safe and sound.
I am so honored that I was able share with my sister and mom, Dad’s final journey, to be there and to be able to hear him say I love you sweetie just one more time.
But like Winston Churchill I know he was prepared to meet his Maker, but I am not so sure his Maker is ready to meet him.
As I started trying to pull this together I came upon this obscure line from Hamlet
“He was a man, Take him for his all, I shall not look upon his like again.”
I love you too Dad.
If you feel so inclined please send a donation to the Fisher House Foundation, Inc.