Wednesday, September 21, 2016

In Memoriam -- Uncle Junior

When I wrote The Summer of France, I included the character Uncle Martin. Uncle Martin came from a family of nine children in Kentucky and volunteered to fight in World War II. He fought in Italy, was wounded and ended up in France where he fell in love with a Frenchwoman and never returned to live in the U.S.
Uncle Martin's character was loosely based on all of my uncles, but mostly on Uncle Junior.
That's what we called him because my mother always called him Junior. His wife called him Luther because that was his name -- Luther John Phillips.
Junior was the oldest boy in a family of nine. He had two older sisters, three younger brothers and three younger sisters. My mother grew up the baby in that family.
Uncle Junior was drafted into the army and  he did serve in Italy in World War II. Somewhere, I have a videotape of him sharing his war experience. He was wounded four times but came home in one piece with a Purple Heart. As we talked about his experience, he recalled that he warned his younger brothers not to wait to be drafted. Instead, he urged them to sign up for the military. Clarence, the next oldest brother, signed up for the Navy so he could avoid the ground war that Uncle Junior faced.
Uncle Junior is next to my mother in the middle. This picture
was taken at the funeral of my most recent uncle who passed.
These are the remaining siblings. 
His two  younger brothers weren't old enough to fight in World War II, but they both served later.
Uncle Junior died at age 94 on Saturday morning. He had been moved to hospice care about 24 hours before.
His death makes me sad for my mother, who loved hearing from her big brother.
It makes me sad for my aunt, who had been married to him for 71 years. 71 years? Can you imagine how empty that must feel after so long together?
And it makes me sad for all of us nieces and nephews who enjoyed hearing his musings, even if we only saw him a few times each year.
Uncle Junior didn't have the same adventures that Uncle Martin did in The Summer of France, but he  had a rich life that took him back home to Ohio and allowed him to volunteer in the Masonic Order and the Shriners, along with telling his war stories.


Terra Hangen said...

Sorry to hear of your loss; it sounds like your Uncle Junior had a full and rich life.
That was a long marriage, how beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of your uncle. Take good care of your mother--it is devastating to lose a sibling.

Just Me said...

I'm sorry for your family's loss. 71 years - no I can't imagine. Sounds like he will be dearly missed. What a beautifully written tribute.

Elizabeth Eiffel said...

Your Uncle Junior sounds like a wonderful man. Often life is more interesting than fiction and I feel that his life may well have been an example if this.

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