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The other month one of my favorite people passed a way. It came as a shock to the family because even though he was getting up there in age, he was still a sharp old guy, and still in his right mind, and up to date with technology. He seemed much younger than he was maybe because he was not only spry, but young at heart.

He was my great uncle John Paton. I didn’t get to see him as often as his children or grands, but I cherished the memories I would make with him when he would visit from Indiana once or twice a year. And of course, I will always remember the fun family trips to the beach and going to Indiana myself.

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He was a great inspiration for me and my brother and my dad, as well as most of my dad’s side of the family. He was a true rags to riches success story, the kind you would usually see on television or read about in novels. You don’t meet people like him very often.

His father, a heavy drinker, had given their mother syphilis, which she never recovered. His two sisters were adopted or taken in by family (the youngest is my grandmother!), and he and his brother lived out their childhood in a children’s home.

When he finally got to leave the oprhanage at 18, he didn’t have a lot of money and joined the military. Later on he became a higher up at Chrysler, and had an awesome life. He was so very generous, and thoughtful, and fun to talk to, as well as witty– probably the most witty person I’ve met. It would be hard for someone to dislike him. Even though he had very conservative political views, it wasn’t something that could keep you away from loving him. He had a spark that nobody could deny, and everyone wanted to get to know him and converse with him because he was so intelligent and entertaining. The life of the party for sure!

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The hardships from his childhood years  made him who he was. I have often thought about how his life would have been if he grew up with his parents, and it wouldn’t have developed the same kind, warm, smart, man that we all knew and loved. His father was an alcoholic who gave him and his siblings up after their mother died, yet when John was old enough, he still would visit his father. If that doesn’t tell you about his character and compassion for others, then I don’t know what will. He is a prime example of the good that tragedy can bring out in a determined person. Life threw him lemons, and he made a hell of a lemonade!

RIP uncle John!!!