I don’t want to wait for heaven. I want you back right now. Coffee’s on, Dad.
JOHN (JACK) EDWARD TUNNY
November 10, 1934 – March 24, 2013
Honor is defined by integrity, courage, character, and truthfulness, all things highly esteemed by my Dad. His mom was a meticulous housekeeper who required that he and his brother make their beds every morning before breakfast. She made the best strawberry rhubarb pie. His Dad was a plumber with arms of steel, who made sure his sons respected their mom and didn’t dare talk back or turn their noses up at anything she cooked for dinner. Although they spent just 12 short years together, it was ample time to instill in my Dad the great American ideals and principles that would guide his life, and they must be so proud of him. His first job was at the neighborhood gas station where Mr. Riley entrusted him to lock up each night, close out the register, and deliver the day’s cash to him on his way home. The patrons called him “Little Jack.” He said that dynamite comes in small packages. “Show me your company and I’ll tell you what you are.” That was his advice for staying out of trouble. And what better company for a good little Irish boy than a boisterous over-the-top Italian family, my mom’s family – where love abounded. And love surpasses all. They welcomed him as their own, and the love grew. He caught rabbits for my great grandma to cook and drove her to the market on Saturday mornings. She could make a leather boot taste good, he’d say. My uncles were his best friends and Normanskill Creek was a boys’ paradise.
He married my Mom on May 4, 1957, his one true love. Less than 3 years later, he was Dad to 3 little girls. He delivered milk in glass bottles and was the best shoe salesman ever. And there’s nothing like a good pair of leather shoes. He became a master craftsman at V.F. Conner, where his boss entrusted the more difficult and intricate jobs to my Dad, and he’d finish them faster than anyone else. He knew the value of hard work and took pride in a job well done. He had big, strong, calloused hands to prove it. On June 20, 1962, his first son was born. “Are you sure it’s a boy,” they asked. Oh yes, and he was blessed with 2 more. Tommy was a surprise… what a great surprise. They could fill a whole grocery cart with food for only $20.00. I used to make his lunch. He had a metal lunchbox with a rounded top. My Dad could fix just about anything and I’m certain the phrase, “Jack of all Trades,” was coined after him. A good pocket knife was a necessity – made in America, not China – and he could turn a simple twig into a wooden work of art. “Actions speak louder than words,” he’d tell us, which explained his sometimes gruff exterior but belied the abundant love and pride that filled his heart. Those were the ever-present forces that compelled his unyielding devotion to his family. He took us for drives on Sundays, all of us in his little Saab station wagon. He loved that car and said it would run forever. He also loved animals, and they loved him back.
In 1977, he drove us all to Arizona in his 8-passenger Chevy van. He named her Old Bessie and said she would run forever too. This is where we’d start families of our own. He walked my sisters and me down the aisle — added 3 sons and daughters-in-law. And the love grew and overflowed. Today 16 kids call him Grandpa. We’re so grateful for the memories. It’s love that has the power to hold these things in place….all the beautiful reflections that time cannot erase. My Dad still liked Sunday drives, mostly to visit all of us. He liked to come for coffee and most often dinner too. Blueberry pie was his favorite. Sundays will never be the same…
My Dad was the lifeline to our family – the beginning of all our dreams. I never imagined how hard it would be to lose him. I thought he would run forever. I know you’re listening, Dad. Your legacy is amazing. I’m so proud that you’re my Dad, and I know I speak for all of us. I’m keeping you close in my heart; I need you there. Your love will continue to grow, Dad, because love never, ever dies. I’m absolutely certain – it just moves on to soar the skies. We love you so much.