I tried to come up with the best word to fill in the blank in the following sentence: He was the most —– man I have ever known. He was certainly the finest, hands-down, bar none. Most fair-minded, too. With seven kids ready to cry "It's not fair!" at any moment, he had to be good about that.

He always made it clear that none of his kids was his favorite. He loved us all equally, he said, though I wouldn't be surprised if at least a few of us (including me) secretly thought that we were his actual favorite, but Dad was just too nice to say so in front of our rivals, I mean siblings.

He exemplified all the best human qualities – intelligence, humility, humor, kindness, and fairness – so effortlessly. "Exemplified" is a good word for Dad. He taught us all through his own good example. There was some shouting now and then, sure, but mostly he taught us through the example he set, hoping we would follow suit.

I inherited my love of words from him. He was an English major in college, for those who didn't know. You would have thought he was an English professor from the way he constantly corrected our grammar. I find myself doing that to my daughter Elizabeth now. It makes me smile when I catch myself doing or saying something that reminds me of my Dad. I'm lucky to have had such a good example to learn from.

I remember when Elizabeth – who we adopted from Russia and was already speaking the language very well – corrected my Russian grammar or pronunciation of something. I don't remember now exactly what it was, but I just laughed and thought, yep, this girl was meant to be my daughter.

Dad raised us all to be good, smart, self-reliant individuals who think for ourselves. I think he succeeded. I could go on, but I'll just end this by saying that the one word best describing my Dad – the one that, for me, best fills in the blank – is decent. He was the most decent man I ever knew, and I will miss him.

See also: legacy.com/obituaries

… and …"

Lionel Rocha Holmes Memorial DNA Fund


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