Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Happy Birthday, Grandpa


David Austin Lacey

September 24th was my Grandpa’s birthday. Today, I want to devote a special post to him.

David Austin Lacey was born September 24, 1918 in Alameda, California. His parents, Thomas Mark Lacey and Sarah Kilcullen, had moved to Alameda from San Francisco after the earthquake in 1906. David was their second-youngest child. David’s younger brother Edmund Owen was born in 1922, but died as a baby, so David was the youngest of the surviving children. He had five brothers and one sister.

David graduated from Alameda High School. From October 1938 to February 1942, David worked as a clerk for Pacific Gas & Electric in San Francisco. In 1942, during World War II, he joined the US Navy. During the war, he spent time in training school at Terminal Island, in Long Beach, California. He then served as the Assistant to the Gunnery Officer on the U.S.S. Wateree in the Pacific Theater. At the war’s end, in 1945, he returned to California, shortly before the U.S.S. Wateree was sunk by a typhoon.

David Lacey during his service in the US Navy
After the war, David took a job as an Ordnanceman on Camp Pendleton Marine Base, in San Diego County. His job involved ensuring the safety of buildings and equipment, running a training program for industrial equipment operators and overseeing the receipt and shipping of ammunition. From 1947 to 1949, David also attended Palomar College in San Marcos, California, studying math and science.

David and Jeanette Lacey as newlyweds
On April 29, 1944, David married Jeanette Mary Beck, whom he’d met on base. She was the daughter of George Beck and Kathleen Coleman. They were wed at Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside, California. They settled in Fallbrook, California, in an old adobe house, and raised three children, Sharon, Michael and David.

Christmas was always fun at Granny and Grandpa's house

I was lucky enough to know my Grandpa for many years before he died on April 27, 2004. When I think of him now, which I do frequently, I remember his great love of football. There was always a football game on in his house. My cousins will also fondly recall the time part of a football game was recorded over my Granny’s VHS tape of The Nutcracker, making for a memorable Christmas viewing of the ballet classic. I think of his favorite expression, “Mickey Mouse!” This was said when something was absolutely unbelievable, or hilarious, or generally exciting. It always made us laugh. He was gregarious and opinionated, in a very Irish way. He loved to listen to the Irish Rovers and take videos of particularly lovely birds and sunsets that he saw from his backyard. He was always happy to have people in the house, especially his grandchildren. After my Granny’s death in 2001, he became depressed, and we saw less of his great humor. I can’t think of him without smiling, though. He was so very special to all of us. On his birthday, and always, he is very missed.

Grandpa with me in 1975

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