Monday, June 29, 2009

Remembering my Dad, One Year after his Death

My father, Kenneth I. Reich, kept this blog for almost four years, until his death on June 30, 2008. I spent months trying to figure out the best way to honor him with a final post. Finally I decided to honor him with his own words.

Dad published millions of words during his 39 years at the Los Angeles Times, his three years with UPI and LIFE, and his four years as a blogger. He wrote a book, Making it Happen: Peter Ueberroth and the 1984 Olympics. I thought about posting a sample of his published work. But in the end, I opted for something more personal. In 2004, for my daughter’s first birthday, Dad gave her a memory book called “Grandfather Remembers.” It’s one of those silly books that you can buy in a stationery store, a precursor to “25 Things about Me” on Facebook. But I am so grateful that I have this book. It truly captures my father’s spirit.

Below are a few excerpts from my father’s remembrances. I hope that, as you read them, you relive your own favorite memories of my dad. There will never be someone else like him.

Kathy Reich

Early Years
I was born
March 7, 1938, Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, Los Angeles

My family lived in Los Angeles and, after 6, Palm Springs, California.

A hardship my family had to overcome was World War II, long absence of my father on naval service.

As a student I was valedictorian of my high school class and student body president.

My parents taught me to value government service, academic excellence, and California as a place to live.

I graduated from Dartmouth College, June 12, 1960

After I finished school I went to work for United Press International, LIFE Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times (1965).

47 Years in Journalism
A risk that I took that worked was
leaving Harvard Law School and going to work in journalism.

One that failed was going to work as an op-ed page editor of the Times (1972). I did not like being bound to a desk, and I ran pieces my superiors didn’t like.

The lesson I learned from that was to stick with reporting. My best assignments lay ahead.

The best career decision I ever made was to go into journalism and to go to work for the Los Angeles Times.

The most important promotions I ever had were to cover the 1984 Olympics (1977) and to cover Jimmy Carter’s race for President (1976).

People who influenced me the most were Lawrence Radway, Professor at Dartmouth; Norman Cherniss, Editor at Riverside Press-Enterprise; Ed Guthman, National Editor, L.A. Times; Judge Stephen Reinhardt, U.S. Ninth Circuit.

They influenced me because they were wise men who had good ideas, were very moral in their point of view, and gave good advice on occasion.

I was always proud of the time I stood up against Mark Willes and Kathryn Downing, business people who compromised the integrity of the Times.

If I had my life to live over I’d work as a foreign correspondent for awhile, perhaps in India.

My first trip on a plane was
to New York—1953.

My most adventurous trip was around the world—1968—Hawaii, Hong Kong, India, Kenya, Ethiopia, Israel, and France.

What I remember most about that trip is visiting Hap and Joby Dunning in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and meeting Abe and Amrita Abraham in Bombay, India.

The funniest thing that ever happened to me on a trip was hitting a rock in the road near Delphi, Greece in 1965, ripping out the transmission, and having to drive 40 miles in reverse, backwards, to where I could turn the car in.

Places in this country I have visited All 50 states, including at one time every city in the USA over 100,000 in population.

Foreign countries I have visited 79 as of your birthday and every continent except Antarctica. (Note: Dad did make it to Antarctica, and he fulfilled his lifelong goal of visiting 100 countries. He visited his 101st, Tunisia, less than six weeks before his death.)

Values and Beliefs
As a father, I tried to be

As a friend I try to be supportive and cheerful, give them honest advice when they ask.

My definition of a “good guy” is one who is loyal to family and friends.

I still like the old-fashioned ways of typewriters and Republican politics: the progressive era—Lincoln, Hiram Johnson, Warren.

My attitude about money in general is spend what you earn on worthwhile things, make many gifts to your children and charities, and don’t worry too much about the future.

A simple statement that sums up my attitude about life is stand up against evil dictators, live honestly, don’t take any guff.

A philosophy I’ve always lived by is do right by your family, love your children, defend the country.

Final Words
One of the best things about growing older is
having a lovely grandchild like you.

The most precious things in the world to me are my children, grandchildren, and good friends.

My hope for the future is
a more peaceful, secure world for you and your children. After all, you were born in a turbulent time. I hope you have a pleasant home, get a good education, find nice work, something professional, and meet a nice man to marry. Someday, later in the 21st century, you may be filling out a book like this entitled, “Grandmother Remembers.” Long life and good health.