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Litchfield IL - First National Bank of Litchfi...

First National Bank of Litchfield ~ Image by myoldpostcards via Flickr

My father’s birthday is today.

He would have been 99!

If he had a Facebook profile, it might look like this:

Name:  Gilbert Allen.  Nickname:  Sawdi.

City of birth:  Litchfield, IL (pop. 6,815 as of the year 2000 census).

College:  Carthage College, Carthage, IL
Sang in college choir, where he met my mother.  Sang bass in a male quartet, which toured churches.

After college:  Did construction work in CO while deciding what to do with his life.

Seminary:  Maywood, Chicago, IL.  The seminary was moved.  A park was built at the original site which later became Wrigley Field!

Most distinguishing characteristic:  his speaking voice.  He was also very good looking.  (You know, tall dark and handsome.  6’4″, dark wavy hair, blue-gray eyes (same as mine).  When he would make hospital calls to see members of the congregation, the patient’s roommate would often say hello, having recognized his voice.  “You’re Pastor Saathoff!  I heard you on the radio program!”  He was always pleased at the recognition.

He also had a beautiful singing voice.  With further training, I think he could have been a professional singer.

Most unusual thing he ever did:  When preaching a sermon about David and Goliath, he became inspired and ignored his notes.  He acted out both parts.  I clearly remember him shouting, while channeling Goliath, “HA!  You can’t kill me!!!”  He even pounded on the pulpit!

Favorite activities:  Watching the campfire during summer vacation, swimming, attending the Drake Relays with friends, going to the St. Louis Municipal Opera with family (not that far from Litchfield).

Only time I heard him swear:  When parking the trailer in the mud.  It always got stuck.  I was happy when we got a tent.

Pet peeve:  Answering machines.  When I moved to NY, I bought one.  Every time he called thereafter, even when I picked up the phone before the machine, the first thing he said after he said “Hello” was, “Do you still have that answering machine?”

Favorite food group:  Hot fudge on vanilla ice cream.  Definition:  it has to get hard when it hits the ice cream.  Otherwise it’s chocolate syrup.

Favorite trees:  Gingko and Mimosa.

What I admired most:  his ever-present willingness to answer the phone and  go out on a call at times like 3 and 4 a.m. without complaint, and his unwavering integrity.

Happy Birthday, Dad.  I love you.

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