Legacy Stories

By Brenda Shisslak

Much to my disgust, he put peanut butter on his pancakes and ketchup in his macaroni and cheese and was still the person I named as my hero in Kindergarten. Robert Shisslak could strike up a conversation with absolutely anybody and it is something my mother always tells me I inherited. He raised me on the Oldies on vinyl, Ford trucks, fishing and Forrest Gump but still refused to buy me a Nerf gun because I'm a girl. He also told me I would be going to military school and be unable to date until I was 35. After throwing many temper tantrums because I actually believed he would ship me off to the Navy, I can say that while I'm proud of our Navy and my dad, the thought of even basic training terrifies me. By the time I got my first boyfriend, Dad could not do much about it since he was already gone. Dad died on April 12, 2011 and I still half expect him to walk through the door with a BJ's bag full of useless things we will never use; but hey, they were on sale!

I asked our daughter Abigail to write a short little something about her dad and in less than 5 minutes she wrote the above paragraph. She captures her dad in the perfect light. My husband of 14 years and 10 months was the kindest man I knew and the type of guy who would give the shirt off his back to someone who needed it.

Robert (Drew as he was known to his family and friends) grew up in Central and then Western Pennsylvania, the youngest of 4 children and the only boy. He entered the Navy right after high school. He often told stories of his days living on an aircraft carrier. Following his military career, he became employed at McDonnell Douglas where he was chosen to be a part of the Space Shuttle Endeavor assembly team. Robert also had the gift of being a good listener. Robert was a Court Officer for the Massachusetts Trial Court where he would often encounter newly arrested individuals who just needed someone to listen.

Robert was everybody's friend, but to me, he was my one-of-a-kind husband, companion, best friend, the father to our wonderful and beautiful daughter who can never be replaced.

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