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Death of a Father: Leader of the Band

Updated on May 22, 2016

Dad and Brother

Dad died November 18, 2015. He was 82 year old. His brother had died less than 3 years earlier, and his wife had died in 2009.

He was a musician, teacher, and a father.

He was always helping others.

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Early and Mid Years

Dad grew up in South Dakota and Iowa, in the Midwest. Born in the 1930's, he was mid-west America, telling stories of wide open countryside life, his own fathers work as a printer, and how he eventually joined the Navy.

He joined the Navy in the 50's, around the time of the Korean war, and serving during the years of the Vietnam War. He was a musician, so the stories he told were different from the classic sort of war stories we are used to hearing on television or cable. Instead, his stories were of public affairs, diplomacy and state functions. By the time I was old enough to understand, Dad had begun serving as leader of various Navy bands, usually show bands. As a young child, it was a thrill to see a Navy band come marching down the street, everybody marching with synchronization and precision, and with dear old Dad at the front of the columns. All behind him were as polished as he was.

But a child's thrill is not the same as the thrill Dad got by having his band perform at the First Special Olympics at Soldier Filed in Chicago. He was proud of that job, and would remind us often that he was there.

When he retired, he pursued an education and became a music teacher, eventually teaching at various schools in the Norfolk area. He also served as leader of pep band for Old Dominion University, the school that had granted him his teaching degree.

Music was his life.

Until his wife got sick.

Then it was clear to all.

His wife was his priority.

Last Few Years

His wife had suffered from diabetes, and was always in danger of succumbing to that disease. For roughly fifteen years prior to Mom dying, his full time job was to take care of Mom. She needed help eating, had difficulties getting around, was constantly spending time visiting doctors or being cared for in hospitals. Although she had no recorded medical history of it, in her later years the doctors indicated she had signs of multiple strokes and heart attacks.

Through it all, Dad was always there to help her out. Mom died in 2009.

After his wife died, Dad no longer knew what to do. Shortly after Mom died, he suffered a stroke of his own. He recovered not too long after, and soon returned to the habits he was most familiar with, the habit of helping others. Dad began by putting a lot of effort into reaching out to other members of his family.

His brother benefited from that helpful nature. Dad stepped in and did all he could to relieve his brother of the burdens of bills, and tried to help ensure that he had appropriate medical care. In the end his brother suffered through stage four bone cancer, having pain so bad the doctors no longer offered advice on when to take the medication.

After his brother died, Dad turned to helping others in the neighborhood he lived in. Again he stepped in to help with the bills, and to do what he could. In return he got home-cooked food of the sort he could no longer make for himself at home.

Dad soon turned to helping others he met in various places. In these newer efforts, it seemed to me that he tried to teach them how to help themselves. But, his help turned to a new form, allowing folks to use his car to get from place to place, providing them food and shelter, and in general doing what he could to help them resolve their conflicts with local law enforcement. He was always trying to help others.

Dan Fogelburgs "Leader of the Band"

Helping people sometimes comes with a cost. Through his life, his wife had been a strong financial influence, always saving up dollars for those later years. She died without spending those saved dollars, and they passed on to her husband and daughters.

The amounts were substantial enough so that they could impact lives for the positive, when they were well invested. In my Dads case though, those were the hard-earned dollars that had been saved all those years for use in his golden years. They were used as intended.

Sometimes when you get caught up in helping others, you forget to take care of yourself.

Dad fell in June 2015. For a short time, he was not able to help others as much as he normally would. He recovered slowly, and eventually began to try to help other again.

Dad fell again in early November 2015. This time I learned of the fall because he did not meet me at the door like he normally would when I visited. When I called the local police to ask if there had been any emergency calls at his house, they said yes, and suggested I call the hospital. A few phone calls later, I visited the hospital, and found him in intensive care. He remained there through the week. He had pneumonia, and was having difficulties eating anything. He was being told he might have to keep the feeding tube they were using, and he said 'hell no'.

At the end, he had a chance to visit with children in the area and with his grandchildren. He was even joking with the nurse. Nurses are obligated by standard procedure to ask patients questions about flu shots and pneumonia shots. This nurse asked dad if he had ever had these shots. He indicated no for the flu shots (they make him sick he said), and yes for the pneumonia shots. After some discussion, we determined that the last pneumonia shot had been before Mom died, prior to 2009. So the nurse asked if he would like a pneumonia shot, and he responded 'it's a bit late for that, isn't it?' We all knew dad, and laughed with him, but the poor nurse, words can not describe the look of angst on her face.

Shortly after signing DNR forms, he was released to a transitional care facility. The two prior releases to transitional care had resulted in recovery. This one did not.

The leader of the band had died.



As is common nowadays, when dad died, he left all his possessions to his children. As often happens nowadays, all of his children had grown and moved on to their own lives. So now, we are finding really odd things that had been kept as keepsakes in the house. One is below.

There are pictures of many of the other items found in the house in another article.


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