Funeral Provides Children with Full Picture of Dad

During the day of my father Leo’s funeral, his sons were treated to much praise and tributes from members of the Factory Inspectors Union, many of whom attended Leo’s burial with sincere, deep respect. Leo’s oldest son, Phil, who had left Leo’s hospital bedside, returned for the funeral.

At the grave site, Jake Peters, a union officer, philosophized to Leo’s three sons, “If you die and don’t accomplish anything, don’t leave a mark, you die for sure. But if you’ve impacted something, changing something, fought and stood up for something, you live on by your actions. And that was your father. He always believed that there was little profit in a quarrel, but when something needed defending or was unjustly attacked, he had the wisdom to identify important things worth fighting for. He was the best thing to happen to this union in years. And he stood up and fought when no one else would.”

Memories of Dad at Work

Harry Littleton, the union President who had comforted Leo when he had collapsed, added, “There is a saying: Ordinary men avoid trouble, extraordinary men turn it to their advantage. Leo was the closest man to extraordinary that I ever met. In almost everything I experienced with him in the decade I knew him, he sure stepped up, taking critical things in life head on.”

Kip Barker, another union official added, “No one else could have done what he did, with studying the OSHA regulations so he knew them better than government officials, and then leading us all to Albany to state our case.”

After listening intently to Kip Barker, Ken, Leo’s middle son, said softly, “Thank you for sharing that information, Mr. Barker. We really appreciate hearing what a great guy our dad was.”

Another of the union officers, Luke Abbott, tried to console Phil, Mark and Ken, “No one could defeat your father, but death is the ultimate victor. It defeats everyone.”

Ken responded to the hackneyed, but sincerely offered sentiment, “With all due respect, Mr. Abbott, I’m not sure I think that fully applies to my father. Yes, death eventually took him, like all people. But in his case, he was conquered by OSHA and vanquished by New York State. Death deserves more dignity than that.”

Colleagues Respected Dad

Many of the union officials were aware of numerous aspects of Leo’s difficult and challenging life. It was clear that they experienced sympathy for Leo, but most of all it was respect that echoed over and over among the men at his funeral — respect, intelligence, courage, and mettle.

At day’s end of the funeral, the three brothers were exhausted and emotionally spent. They had been quite pleased to hear all the high praise expressed for their father, and they recounted some of the stories and sentiments expressed by Leo’s co-workers. The tales of his character and triumphs filled them with pride.

The following week, Mark received a letter from the New York Eye Bank, indicating that a person’s sight was restored through the transplantation of Leo’s corneas. As Mark shared the wonderful news with Ken in a telephone conversation, he smiled warmly with gratification and contentment, brightening his day.

Read more by Ken Lefkowitz: Husband Admires Wife’s Strength After Child-Loss – Open to Hope

Check out Ken’s book: Weave of Destiny: Lefkowitz, Ken: 9781734798616: Books

Ken Lefkowitz

KEN LEFKOWITZ has a BA degree from Brooklyn College, an MS degree from the City University of NY and a graduate business studies at St. John's University. Currently retired. Formerly a consultant and Sr. Director for major corporations, where he managed people from all walks of life and from many locations and cultures. Book “Weave of Destiny” is about the jagged road he and his wife traveled to have a family of their own. Published by Legacy Book Press. Other writing and articles have appeared in the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Courier Post/USA Today, and the Washington Post as well as in professional business journals.

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