My father-in-law died at 4:55 a.m. today, a week after suffering a stroke at his home in West Columbia, S.C. Roy Shiver was 84 years old and spent the last days of his life surrounded by friends and family. As far as deaths go, it was a pretty good one. We should all be so lucky.
Roy was a kind and generous man, which stood in stark contrast to his physical presence. He was well over six feet tall and — to paraphrase my best friend — looked a little like a gangster in a British crime film. Roy was intimidating through no fault of his own. I half expected him to place a loaded revolver on the table the first time I met him and his wife, Gerry.
Much to my surprise, though, our conversation that night was a gentle one. He seemed genuinely interested in me, and not in the way fathers can be over protective of their daughters. Roy never once tried to bully me or imply that bad things might happen should his daughter's heart suffer the slightest of injuries at my hand. Despite his Southern roots, he always trusted Sara to make her own decisions in life. To suggest that I was anything other than a gentleman would have been an insult to her.
And that's pretty much been the tone of our every conversation since then. We had dinner at least once a week, his health permitting, and he always asked me about my job. We didn't have a lot in common, so it was always a struggle for us to find middle ground. Sara told me last night that Roy always liked me, even though he probably never understood me. He was a Korean War veteran, electrical engineer and an incredible successful businessman who spent much of his adult life rubbing elbows with politicians and millionaires. Were he alive to read this, I'm sure he'd thank me for my kind words, but be secretly baffled that it's running directly above an essay on BLACULA.
You'll be missed, big guy.
- Wallace McBride