My Eulogy:

Thank you all for being here today. To see so many people who loved Dad and want to be here to say goodbye to him is incredible and very much appreciated.

My name is Aaron Woitkovich, and I am Clark’s son. As you hear me speak, please add in your minds the voices of Amy and Michelle as well as my Dad’s family and friends.  In our mourning, we are joined as one. I speak for his grandsons too, Jack, Lucas, and Caleb who loved my Dad as we did, and whom he loved in return.

As I struggled to find the correct words today, I remembered the Father’s Day that we celebrated a month ago.  My Dad and I enjoyed a nice lunch with Amy and her parents, followed by an afternoon watching the US Open golf tournament (where we cheered for Phil Mickelson, since he and my Dad once “shared a moment” during the 2012 Masters tournament).   We talked about our previous trips to the lake and to Portland, Oregon with my sister.  My father asked me “What did you get for Father’s Day?”

I told him how I was adamant that my wife, Heather ensure the boys provided me with some “homemade” gifts as I was always a little jealous that Mother’s Day fell during the school year and always provided a nice macaroni necklace, or a deformed but loving clay coffee cup.

Heather ensured that my Father’s day was filled with homemade gifts.  Among the gifts I received from Jack and Luke was hilarious, thoughtful, and lovingly completed “my Dad is” questionnaires. So, with that in mind I have completed the same form in honor of my Father:

My Dad was: 56 years old

My Dad had: brown hair and brown eyes

My Dad’s favorite food:  My Dad was an excellent cook.  Anyone who has enjoyed his cooking would know that one of his favorite things to cook was burritos.  He took pleasure in making his burrito meat (made of whatever leftovers were in the fridge) hot and spicy (probably to mask the age of the leftover meat).  He was also adamant that you “clean your plate”.  This was a problem for me as I didn’t always have the stomach for his incredibly hot food.  Over time, my stomach pains subsided and my love for things hot and spicy grew.  We would discuss the hottest salsa’s we could find, the best pepperjack cheeses, and were always  on the hunt for the best hot sauces around.  He acquired an impressive hot sauce collection (with names like Dave’s death sauce, Blair’s XXX and my favorite “Scorned Woman” with the tagline “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”) that I am now looking forward to acquiring.

Another one of his favorite foods was BBQ.  I say “was” because on March 15th of this year we threw my Dad a retirement party.  We brought in trays of pulled pork, BBQ ribs, Baked Beans and Macaroni and Cheese.  After the party was over, we still had enough food to feed about 20 people.  My Dad would not throw any food away, so after we divided up the food he was taking home enough BBQ for 5 – 10 people.  As you may know, Amy is a vegetarian so he was on his own to “clean his plate”.   Of course, he succeeded in this task but made sure to tell me at the lake house in May, in Portland in June, and in Atlanta in July that we had “ruined” BBQ for him and he’d never eat it again.

Although technically not a food, I would have to add Jack Daniel’s and Icehouse to this list as well.

My dad worked at:   the Institute of Paper Science and Technology for 20 years.  He was a published research scientist covering a wide variety of topics in the pulp and paper industry.  He then became a tax fraud specialist for the IRS and enjoyed the customer service aspect of the job, particularly while fielding calls of support during Hurricane Katrina in 2004.  He retired in March of 2013 with 8 years of federal service in addition to his 3 years in the US Navy.

My dad always tells me:   “I’m a mawer”.  “Mawer” is a term from his favorite game, sheepshead, in which excellent players like me will pass on the opportunity to pick.  If you get caught passing when you should pick you are indeed a “mawer”, seems as if I was a mawer often.  Getting my Dad to go to the movies was a near impossible task, every suggestion or request was met with the same response:  “you know what they say, movies come and movies go” I’m still trying to figure out who it was that said that, but kudos to Amy as I believe she was the only person to successfully get him to a movie theatre.

My Dad always told me that “the Rolling Stones” were the world’s greatest Rock and Roll band.  Many of my childhood and adult memories include blaring rock and roll music.  I remember my Dad taking me to my first concert, Pink Floyd, and my second concert the Rolling Stones.  I have been hooked on the Stones ever since and I’m sure my wife and children are happy that I continue the blaring loud music tradition.  I was hoping he was going to be able to see the Rolling Stones one last time; instead we had to settle for the Rolling Stones Tribute Band this past May.  Not quite the same as watching my Dad see his idol Keith Richards, but still a memory I will cherish.

As a child my friends and I devised our own language,  somehow our pretend language manifested itself in familial names.  To my Dad, I was Hecci and for the past 20 years I don’t think I was called Aaron once.  To me and Amy he was Peeya, and Amy was Shuck.  Q1[JLJ1] There are several other phrases my Dad told me but I don’t believe they should be repeated here.

He is smart because:  he holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from UW Madison, he also holds a Master’s degree from IPST.  His intelligence transcended academia as he understood the importance of family; he loved his wife, his daughter, his grandchildren, his family and me.  There wasn’t a project he wouldn’t attempt and a problem he wouldn’t attempt to solve himself.  He was meticulous in his preparation and wanted everything done exactly right.  I have fond memories of him building legos and motorized cars with my sons, building a storage shed, replacing the gutters, or the front steps, and recently the floors in the bathroom.  How are those coming, Amy?

It made me happy when my dad:  smiled.   He enjoyed music, cards, family, and competition.  It made me happy when my Dad played with my sons, it made me happy when we would team up on Amy, Heather and Chelle during intense Sheepshead battles.   I remember when Amy purchased an xBox and my Dad was convinced that if he was good at Tiger Woods golf, he could play real golf because it was so lifelike.   We had many xBox battles and to his credit, he was very good.  Good enough to beat me.  I did convince him to make a trip to the driving range prior to “beating” me on the course.  Not surprisingly, we never did make that trip to the Par 3 course.

Another source of pride in the Woitkovich household and extended families is the annual Pro Football Pickem tournament.   My Dad being the analytical type developed a system that was frustratingly accurate.   He was the 2010, 2011, and 2012 reigning champion.  He would never divulge his strategy, but I’m convinced it had something to do with actually managing to make your picks each and every week.

My dad is funny when he: tries to pass off food that is a month old as still okay to eat, listens to the Who and does the Pete Townsend windmill, he was funny when he received a birthday gift or a package in the mail and would wait weeks if not months to open it.   I remember one time when he received his new license plate in the mail.  For most people this would be a simple transaction, open the license plate, take off the old one and put on the new one.  For my Dad however, the license plate sat in a pile for what seemed like months.   I was upstairs watching tv when he opened it, and I remember every second of it.  a “YES!!!” followed by “66 AMO”.  Immediately, he was Clyde Barrow traveling down route 66 and his tiny Toyota was suddenly the getaway car.

My favorite place my dad took me was:  concerts.  We’ve seen many bands together:  Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Alice Cooper, Cheap Trick and many more.   Our last concert together was about a month ago in Portland, Oregon.   Michelle, my Dad and I flew to Oregon to see Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3.   It was a small, secluded venue that allowed for a very special experience.  It’s a concert and a memory, I will always remember.

One other story comes to mind.  My Dad and I attended a Chicago Cubs / Atlanta Braves game because I am a huge Cubs fan.   We arrived at the park early but had some nosebleed seats.   My Dad made sure to bring the binoculars so I wouldn’t miss any action.   There were several long rain delays throughout the game and as expected the vast majority of the fans left.  My Dad knowing how much I looked forward to this game insisted on staying.   During the second rain delay, I mentioned to my Dad, how the famed Cubs announcer Harry Caray always broadcasted in the open air.  Immediately, a plan was formed.  We were going to get Harry Caray’s attention during the rain delay.  Using the binoculars, we were able to locate Harry within minutes.  As luck would have it, I was actually wearing a “Harry Caray – US Tour” shirt that just displayed the Cubs’ road schedule for that year.   The stadium was nearly empty so navigating to the seats above Harry was a simple task.  I took off my shirt, my Dad took off the binocular strap and the chip clip from his peanuts.   We rigged a message to Harry…. “Harry, please sign, you’re #1 fan!”  or something like that.  Well, Harry was certainly surprised.  He grabbed the shirt, put it next to him on the desk and waited, and waited, and waited.  For the entire rain delay, plus three more innings I sat shirtless and freezing in the rain.  After the game was over, and his wrap up complete he signed the shirt, attached it to the clip and sent it back up.  He then motioned for us to come down to the suite to meet him.  My Dad was certain Harry and the WGN crew were going to be upset with us for interrupting the broadcast.  I was convinced he just wanted to meet his #1 fan.   We never did meet Harry due to Braves security, but I assure you it wasn’t for lack of trying.

The last question on the questionnaire was:  I love my Dad because:   I can’t think of an answer better than the one my boys gave me:  “he is great, and he is always in my heart”