Monday, March 21, 2022

Losing my big brother

 Daniel Alan Sherrod was born June 24, 1943, to Judy and Alan Sherrod in Robinson, Il.

He died before dawn on Saturday, March 19, 2022, at his home in Richardson, TX. He was 78 years old. He is mourned by his wife Patricia, and his children. Christopher, Julianne, Gina, and Margaret, and by his grandchildren, Virginia, Sam, Natalie, and Calliope Rose, by nieces and nephews and their children, and by countless friends in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Sports Car Club of America.

And he is mourned by his siblings. He was the oldest of four children: Dan, Peter, Kate, and Mike. 

Here are Pete, me, and Dan -- Mike wouldn't be born for three more years. This is how I looked when Dan and Pete put me in a box in the middle of the street to see if cars would stop. Both of them were lucky to be alive when our mother found out about that stunt. I mean -- look at those grins. Can't you just SEE the mischief?

But my mom was enchanted with her first born, and no wonder. He was a chubby cheeked cutie pie. 

Peter was born 18 months later and I came along two years after that. Our parents had moved to Texas, to the tiny town of Iraan, where our father was the only physician for three counties, and our mom the only nurse. 

We lived in this minuscule house in Iraan, although we didn't know it was so tiny until we went back for a visit many years later. How six people fit into that house remains an unanswered question. 

My parents created a full rich life in that little town, with my father racing a Jaguar in Sports Car Club of America road races, and my mom starting a town library and leading Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops in addition to managing our father's medical practice. They loved having friends over to eat and drink and talk -- and they passed this love along to their children. 

So no wonder Dan's favorite thing was to gather the people he loved around a table laden with food and drink, and talk. Sherrods love to talk.

He loved to read, and when we lived in Iraan, he would beat us all to the Post Office so he  could get Life and Look Magazines and the Saturday Evening Post. Then he would sit on two of them while he read the third. Only when he was finished with one could the rest of us kids get a chance at it. 

He and Pete got Roy Rogers double holster sets for Christmas one year, and I got a Madam Alexander doll. Boy, was I mad!

And then one Christmas the boys got English racing bikes -- beyond cool because they had gears (!) and skinny narrow tires. I was so jealous. My girl bike simply couldn't keep up.

Dan loved a party.

Dan and Gayland shared that hospitality gene, so they got along really well, doing their best to do justice to all of Patty's amazing cooking.

He also loved puns, a vice my entire family shares, and his could be truly awful, causing much loud groaning -- while we all thought furiously of ways we might top him.

He also loved to play Charades when we all got together, but we never let him and Patty be on the same team. There was just too much fire power in that duo.

Like our Dad, Dan raced fast cars. He and my then-husband-and-still-friend Glenn Brown, formed Brown Sherrod Racing, which we -- of course --shortened to BS Racing. Peter was named the Coarse Physician. We thought we were hysterically funny. We all worked as part of the Pit Crew. Number 23 had been our dad's racing number, so we kept that. This was the Lotus Formula Ford we raced, often at Green Valley Raceway.

Glenn was the Chief Mechanic. Our little girl, Daniella, was the team mascot. Before every race, she would toddle up to car and proclaim, "Race, Dan! Race!"

Dan kept his love of fast beautiful cars his entire life. He served in many national leadership roles in the Sports Car Clubs of America, traveling to races all over the country. We all knew that Patty seriously loved him when, after three days of honeymoon at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado, they joined up with the rest of us at Fort Sumner, New Mexico for a race. 

All of us were thrilled when our dad bought his long-dreamed-of Ferrari, but none as much as Dan.  And yes, driving it was like no other driving experience, but Dan and Daddy were truly smitten.

Dan helped organize the first Dallas Grand Prix in the mid-1980s, a huge task and a labor of love.

As you can see from the photos, Dan loved to laugh. Well, so do all of us, but Dan's eyes would twinkle and that hearty laugh would erupt and no matter how grumpy you might be, you had to smile. 

He and Peter were incorrigible together, and were ridiculously proud of themselves when they made us all laugh. 

Do you know what a Shaggy Dog story is? 

"In its original sense, a shaggy dog story or yarn is an extremely long-winded story characterized by extensive narration of typically irrelevant incidents and terminated by an anticlimax.

"A lengthy shaggy dog story derives its humor from the fact that the joke-teller held the attention of the listeners for a long time (such jokes can take five minutes or more to tell) for no reason at all, as the end resolution is essentially meaningless."

Well, Alan Sherrod had mastered this art, and his sons did their best to match him, with little success. They never gave up though.

Patty was Dan's match, however, and robust discussions were part of what they enjoyed about each other.

They were both teachers before Dan went into the insurance business, and they both knew how to debate. 

Dan was a devout Roman Catholic, and so it was especially meaningful for him and Patty to visit the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Iraan.  My parents had given the climic they built in Iraan to the Catholic Church and we all made a pilgrimage to see it.

We were all amazed at how well the clinic worked as a church, with the big waiting room as the worship space, examining rooms becoming offices and classrooms, and the lab becoming a small kitchen.

I am sure by now you have noticed a theme running through this -- family. 

Dan's family meant everything to him. 

At their 50th Wedding Anniversary!

Here they all are, trying to get organized to take a photo in 2018. And below is a photo from that same day, with Dan telling some story to his daughter Julianne and Patty preparing mimosas for us all. 

And here we all are at Julianne and Steve's wedding, which was held in our Chapel Garden, Gayland officiating, with a lovely reception afterward. Dan was so happy that day. 

That's how I will always see Dan, all laughter and love. How we will miss him.

It's hard to believe all that vitality isn't still with us, so I won't be surprised if evidence of Dan's presence shows up every now and then. A spirit that bright won't just disappear.

Love you, Dan. Miss you.


judyalter said...

What a lovely, loving tribute, Katie. I am sorry for your loss, but I know you will carry these memories with you forever as some small comfort. I still have my big brother (my only sibling), but I worry about him a lot. In many ways, it's a selfish worry.

Scott Allen said...

What a wonderful eulogy and engaging narrative! I feel like I know (and like) him and that I can experience a little of the void you must feel! May Dan rest in the arms of Jesus and rise in his likeness! Good job, Katie! And may God hold you in her comforting embrace!

Scott Allen said...

Wonderful eulogy and expression of love! Thank you! May God hold him in her resurrection arms and comfort you and your family in the promise of resurrection to eternal life!

Paula said...

I've had the pleasure of knowing Dan for almost 50 years through the SCCA. He was always welcoming to all - strangers and friends alike. His smile and laughter couldn't be missed at any race in Texas. Thank you for a beautiful tribute to him - showing us the family side of Dan. He will be missed by many. I know he was greeted by so many of our SCCA family who have gone before him - Heaven help the Angels when they all get together!
Paula Taylor
Austin, TX