Donald Dale Foutz: 100th Birthday Slideshow
There was a time, not so many years ago, when I had no photographs to remember my Grandpa Don Foutz.
He died of lung cancer in 1980, when I was just 4. But I had glimmerings of memories, growing up.
A weekend staying with grandpa and Grandma Erma Foutz at their house at 115 Cross St. in Dover: waking up, I wandered from my dad’s old bedroom at the end of the hall to the bathroom next to their bedroom. Grandpa stood at the sink, then leaned over and helped me “wipe the sleep from (my) eyes.” It was the first time I’d heard the expression.
Their house was the province of puzzles — an old TV Cowboy one — and dominoes, the calico cats my grandma or one of her sisters made at the time, the big ugly wolf stuffed animal that was once my dad’s. And grandpa’s big sausage pillow. I remember him stretching out on the couch, propped up on it, his salt and pepper hair in the same crazy corkscrews mine resemble, most days.
I remember picnics in the backyard of our place at 1028 Dover Ave., and grilling out off the back porch of their place. It was always novel for Grandma and Grandpa Ley to join us in a cross-family, crosstown breaking of bread. The benefits of having moved back to our hometown.
Christmases, there and at our place. Mom’s sausage souffle and the tingling bells on our stockings. Grandpa’s voice calling out as he and grandma burst in — never a need for a knock — calling for my brother, “Danny. Hey, Danny!”
We visited him in Maryland near the end of his life, a trip I remember more for the wild horses on the beach at Assateague Island, and the novel elevator buttons and smell of the big NIH hospital where Grandpa was taken for experimental treatment of oat cell carcinoma.
I don’t remember his death, or funeral that November. But Dad and Mom have said he called Dan and me bedside and whispered the locations where grandma secreted her Christmas cookies. A good story.
My window on Don Foutz’s life was a brushstroke of sun, a mere sliver. Six percent of a life still far too short.
Through my family history research, I’ve been able to appreciate the full measure of his years. Discover what his family life was like, growing up. Detail his high school football exploits. Trace his work at Potschner Ford and in the Greer Steel Mill. Relive, through photographs, family gatherings.
Today, I’m blessed with countless photographs of my grandpa. A shot from his wedding day shares space atop our mantel with those of our parents and other grandparents. The picture heading this post sits next to a similarly y0uthful portrait of my grandma on a cozy bookshelf in our living room. There are photos of grandpa among other relatives in the collage by our dining table — family, gathering with my family. And downstairs, cool yellowed photos from his football scrapbook, dramatically framed and lending a bit of gravitas to the usual Technicolor nonsense blaring from the TV and surround sound speakers, most nights, all weekend.
Today would have been Don Foutz’s 100th birthday. I thought it a fitting tribute to share some of the photos I’ve collected in my research. And remember a lifetime, each in our own way.
Don Foutz: 66 Years in Photographs
(Scroll to view the gallery below, or click on any photo for a closeup slideshow.)