Dick Willingham (right), NBC affiliate anchor, in 1970
One of the many things I like about my uncle having been a newscaster is that he has always had the most interesting stories to tell. Before he retired, he spent 25+ years as an anchor for KYTV in Springfield, Missouri, and then as news director for KSMU radio station.
He and his wife, Ann, and daughter, Susan, were my second family growing up, and during my college years and as a married adult and mother. They are a strong Christian family and have always been active in the church — Uncle Bud is a deacon and longstanding member of the choir, among other things.
Richard, Susan, Ann — 2008
One thing about my Uncle Bud (the name my brothers and I called him from the time we could talk, so it stuck), is that he has never raised his voice in my presence. It’s a safe bet that he has rarely, if ever, raised his voice in anyone’s presence. I have never heard him react to even the most annoying things with a loud voice.
The photos here of Uncle Bud at the tv station span from 1970 to perhaps the very early 80’s. They are from KY3‘s website, where the station is now celebrating their 60 year anniversary.
There aren’t enough hours in the day to tell about all the things Uncle Bud has done, all the experiences he has had, and all the laughter, learning, holidays, and fun spent with him, my aunt and my cousin.
It’s too bad I don’t still have a picture of it, but Uncle Bud and Aunt Ann gave me my very first car. It was a white Buick Skylark model from the early 70’s, in pristine condition. My uncle has always made sure the family cars stayed in top condition.
They even took me on vacation one year with them to the Colorado Rockies for two weeks. Their home was my home away from home.
For some reason I remember one interview my uncle did more than any of the others. He interviewed Tiny Tim, for whom singing “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” in high falsetto was a trademark. It was not all that long after Tiny Tim had divorced, and it hadn’t been a pretty break-up. I just remember that interview because Tiny Tim was such an odd duck.
Uncle Bud has been an avid photographer as long as I’ve known him. It seems appropriate, since his total career has been involved with the media in one way or another.
A few months ago Uncle Bud found a lump on his neck and decided to check with a doctor, just in case. It wasn’t likely to be anything too complicated, since Uncle Bud walked every day, ate healthy things, and lived a healthy lifestyle. That’s why our whole family was in shock when he was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma in three places.
When my uncle asked the doctors why the cancer had not been detected until it was so far along, they told him he had the health of a teenager, and the cancer was detected late because he hadn’t had any symptoms at all. And he still didn’t — until the treatments started. After two sickening rounds, Uncle Bud was listed as terminal.
Uncle Bud this past Christmas, at my house showing my mother (his sister) how to use her first digital camera
Now, at any moment, I expect that call that no one wants to get, or perhaps even be present when Uncle Bud is ushered into the presence of God. Uncle Bud is near death in the section of the hospital reserved for patients who the staff are trying to “keep comfortable.” My heart breaks for Aunt Ann and my cousin Susan. Uncle Bud and Aunt Ann have been each other’s best friend and spouse for many years, and Susan is their pride and joy.
I always took it for granted that Uncle Bud would outlive me, both because of his stellar health, and also because of my poor health. Many people have told me that we humans don’t always pick our exact time of leaving, and that we are not promised tomorrow.
This is true, and I know it is. But, grieving is what it is. Knowing that you’ll see a person again doesn’t keep you from missing them while they’re gone.
Sorry to end my blogging break with such a post — there has been so very much going on this past few weeks, and it is occasionally difficult for a person to be totally cheerful. I’m glad you dropped by — my highest blessings go out to all of you, and I pray that you all have a joyful weekend!