Richard Emil Jirak
It’s early and the morning, gold is filtering through the cottonwood trees. The screen door whines and snaps shut as he eyes the berm and the sandbar below. That squeaky minnow bucket is full, and the fishing lines upstream need tending. I hear the thump of his feet on the cooled morning sand and the startling wet splash as he moves through the channels. I feel the suction at his feet as sand turns to mud. When I think of this time I never hear him speaking. I just see a slight easy grin as he looks back over his shoulder and a glint of sun off round wire glasses.
When I think of dad, I remember someone who loved outdoor related activities including gardening and fishing at the cabin on the Platte River. He always had time for Mom and me. No matter how stress filled his work day or how tired he was, Dad always spent family time with us making sure we had what we needed. Growing up, I remember times spent in our backyard playing one-on-one baseball, basketball, and even tossing the Frisbee. Occasionally you might even see a kite flying on a Midwest windy day. And as I grew older, college football Saturday afternoon’s cheering both the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame brought the father-son bond that much closer. I remember spending many of my birthdays growing up either having to go to Henry Doorly Zoo or even an Omaha Royals baseball game. In his later years, he’d help Mom clean our church alter once monthly and help with our church’s white elephant sale. Dad was a shining example of doing great things for others.
Dad was born November 23, 1927 to immigrant parents from the Czech Republic. Having graduated high school and having had several jobs, he eventually retired from the Union Pacific Railroad after forty-plus years of employment.
Dad simply loved polkas. You could often times find him in his favorite recliner at the cabin with headphones listening to cassettes. It was really nice to look over and see his foot tapping along to the music and hear him singing off key.
Dad was a “GOOD” man in the old-fashioned sense of the word. He thought “good” thoughts and he did “good” deeds. He worked very hard for the American Council of the Blind of Nebraska and attended numerous ACB national conventions. He did much work and had the strength to stay in the background so that I could fulfill the duties and offices I held, even to making my own mistakes and victories.
There isn’t enough time to list all the “good” that Dad did for what he believed in and for his family’s good. He will be sorely missed. Pray for him and pray for his family so that they may be able to accept their loss and live their lives in the way that he exemplified.
And now, a new normal begins. Rest in peace.
ACB Angel Memorial Tribute - Richard Emil Jirak