A Renaissance Man
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the definition of ‘Renaissance Man’ is a person with many talents or areas of knowledge. There was a Renaissance Man right under my nose for 35 years and I didn’t even know it. Frank Wallace Goeddel married my mother and consequently became part of our family. He died on February 10, 2021 at the age of 88 years old.
My mother, husband and I began cleaning out his belongings. As we went along, we became more and more surprised at the depth and breadth of his belongings. You see, when he moved in, my mom let him transform one of the bedrooms into an office. He had that space jam packed with stuff. We never went inside so we weren’t entirely sure what was in there.
His taste was uber eclectic. He had books on astronomy, movies, mathematics, gambling, religion, lottery, bridge, horse racing, games, frisbee, kites, cards, surfboarding, sailing, cooking, wine, classics, California history, fishing, art, exercises, diets, world history, politics, code breaking, poetry, motorcycle repair, and music. I’m probably missing several categories, there were so many and we didn’t think to write them down until later on.
Most of the books were clearly read with notes on papers used as bookmarks. So not only did he learn about things, he also jumped into each topic with fervor.
Our local library accepted his books as a donation. It took seven trips to get them all delivered. The librarians were amazed at his collection and commented that he was a real renaissance man. That’s when it clicked in my head that he was one.
He had all sorts of knick-knack things that each had meaning to him. He created devices for specific purposes, although, some of them we never did figure out what the purpose might be. One interesting device was a board that he affixed a large pipe to in the middle. If you stood on the board you could toggle to your left and right, which improved your balance. Apparently, this was to prepare him for sailboarding.
One day, I dropped my youngest off so that I could work. When I picked him up in the late afternoon, I discovered that my son and Frank had spent the day building a tree fort in the backyard. Frank had planned this surprise well in order to be able to finish it in a day.
While he could hold a conversation with anyone on any subject, we didn’t realize the extent of his knowledge. It’s interesting how you can know someone, but not really know them.
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