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Remembering my father

January 28, 2020 — Joe Brockmeier

Ronald C. Brockmeier, my father, passed away on January 21, 2020 in Dorchester, Wisconsin. He was 79, and had spent about two and a half years suffering from vascular dementia and memory loss. He was preceded by his wife, Tina, who passed in July 2019.

It’s hard to write anything short of a novel about my father’s passing. How do you compress a life into a few paragraphs or pages? He was many things, and “easy to describe” wasn’t one of them.

Me and my dad, around 2011

Firstly, nobody used his given name, excepting Tina from time to time. I’d hear her over his shoulder while he was on the phone, “Ronald!” Usually when he was saying something inappropriate. This happened often. He was given to saying inappropriate things.

No, most people called him Ron, but for many years most people just called him Rotten. Rotten Ron was his nickname for pinstriping. It was one of many jobs he did over the years, and the one that he did the longest. He was driven to create, he wanted to paint designs and try new things.

So he taught himself how to pinstripe at a young age. The way he told it, someone asked if he could, so he said “yes,” bought the brushes and paint, and did it. And got paid. And kept doing it. Along the way he added sign painting and lettering, and got savvy about what to charge and how to drum up business. Had it not been for the advent of cheap vinyl signs and such in the late 80s, I suspect he’d have kept lettering and pinstriping as a job well into his 70s.

He had other jobs, as well. Or ways to make money, anyway. Before I was born, he hustled pool for money in addition to sign painting and pinstriping. Gambling, he taught me, was work. If there’s money on the table, it’s work, not fun. Nevertheless he enjoyed shooting pool and went back to it later in life, often going to the local bar to shoot pool for money. He usually won, at least to hear him tell it.

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