Since my father’s passing in 1978, I have been fortunate to have a number of men invest in me and fill that role. Lee Furse was the last man to do that. Ironically he was the same age and served in the same branch of the military as my dad. I took this photo of him on Veteran’s Day 2009.
Lee was more than a regular in my coffee shop, he was the patriarch. He would take his seat at the large oval table in the middle of the shop and others were drawn to him. Some people would stop in just because they saw his car parked out front. And though he would never tell you, he was successful at everything he put his hand to. He flew over 100 missions off an aircraft carrier in the South Pacific during World War II. He was an engineer. He was the plant manager of Buick City. And he was a devoted husband and father.
I loved the days that he would outstay the other regulars and I could have time with him alone. Unlike other veterans I knew, Lee had grown occustomed to talking about his military experiences. He was able to pull back the curtain on things I always wanted to know from my dad. Lee was gracious, funloving, kind, and a real American hero.