My Dad passed away seven years ago this week, so it makes Father’s Day and remembering him that much more special to me and my family. He was a wonderful father, husband, grandfather and a proud U.S. Marine. He was also a great lover of the outdoors. And as a landscape architect, site planner and horticulturalist, he was ahead of his time in conservation thinking.
My father reveled in the outdoors. Nature was his joy, escape, and a way to recharge and reconnect. Whether it be gardening, hiking in the nearby Blue Hills, taking local walks, at his drafting table creating landscape designs, helping his neighbors pick out plants or just being in the backyard taking it all in — my Dad loved being outside.
He grew up in the City of Attleboro, Massachusetts — once known as “the Jewelry Capital of the World.” The family’s three bedroom apartment was a tight squeeze for their family of 8. The three family — or “three-decker” – was wedged in between other three, four, and six-decker homes in a densely packed inner-city neighborhood. I can understand how the outdoors was my Dad’s refuge, but also how it presented him with a pathway to a fulfilling life.
My father and his sisters and brothers had the love and support from their hard working parents — my grandfather was a janitor and my grandmother was a maid. They hoped for a better future for all of their children. In addition to a fostering a great work ethic and appreciation for a good education, they also instilled a love of nature, gardening and a depression era conservation ethic .
After a his service in the Marine Corps he attended Rhode Island School of Design on the GI Bill. He studied landscape architecture. Years later he would go on to get horticultural certification at University of Massachusetts at Amherst and his computer aided design certification at Boston’s Wentworth Institute. He came a long way from a kid growing up without any money in an inner city neighborhood to serving as Massachusetts’ longest serving Registered Landscape Architect and Site Planner.
He passed along his love of the outdoors to my sisters and me. There are many lessons we learned from my father — our Green Marine — but here are a few simple ones as I think about him on this father’s day and his love of the outdoors:
As we celebrate Father’s Day with my family, I have no fonder memories than of being outdoors with my Dad. He shared his passion for being active in the outdoors and welcoming each day with gratitude. As my daughter reaches up in wonder to touch a tree leaf or spy a bird flying over head, I remember our Green Marine.
Originally published at medium.com