When a secretary retires and the Post Office gets involved

Fred H. Rohn, 1926 – 2018

I began to receive a lot of mail about five years ago, when my father’s secretary retired. Anyone who knew my father understood the special relationship he had with the Post Office. Dad was the master of letter-writing and I became his new secretary, typing business letters, family correspondence, and ordering books for him to read. One day I opened a fat envelope filled with handwritten pages.

“I’d like you to type these notes up,” he said on the phone. “I have an idea.” The notes detailed our family genealogy and soon I received more fat envelopes, with subject titles. I knew something was happening, but never did I imagine how big it would become. I got to work typing and running to the Post Office. Over time, in his typical style, my father shared his idea to publish a book, a little bit at a time. “I’d like you to get these pages printed up for me in a little booklet,” he told me, very casually. On a later day, he said, “Why don’t you call some publishers and see what we can do with this?” Within a year, these notes became my father’s family memoir, A Fortunate Life.

There was more to come. In addition to his regular correspondence, it wasn’t long before more envelopes filled my mailbox. This time, the envelopes contained short stories, some handwritten and new and others typed in the 60s and 70s and held together by paper clips that had rusted their image onto the papers. I got to work again on what became a brand new labor of love, Encounters, my dad’s book of short fiction.

These two books represent my father’s unending drive to be productive and contribute to both our family and a larger community. For me, his books mean that and so much more. They were his gift to me, a golden period of nearly daily interaction between father and daughter. He did the very same with my siblings, in special ways that fit their relationships. This is my piece, but I know I’m part of a bigger picture.

My father passed away on June 2, after a brief illness. Yesterday, we celebrated his long and fortunate life and now my family and I are moving in a direction that is still guided by my dad’s work ethic and beliefs. I’m going to miss those letters and calls like nothing else.

Thanks for reading.


24 thoughts on “When a secretary retires and the Post Office gets involved

  1. Oh Barb, I am so sorry to hear of the passing of your dad. He was such a wonderful, special man and I can only imagine how much you will miss him. I will always remember him tracking me down, several years after we graduated from college, to tell me something about you. I don’t even remember what that “something” was, but I remember how touched I was that he found me and made that phone call. My heart is with you and your family.

  2. Sending warm condolences to you and your family, Barbara.
    In the short time I have come to know your dad through his books, he has made a lasting impact, so I can only imagine the wealth of love and meaning he has brought to your life. I’m so glad you had that connection as you helped him achieve his publishing dream.
    Hold on to your special memories. They will help immensely. Beautiful post! ❤

  3. I feel like I was just getting to know your sweet father, Barbara. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. You’re a good daughter, no doubt he was very proud of you. ❤

  4. I am so sorry to hear of your father’s passing. He was clearly a wonderful man, with a real gift for being a father. Your words about him and your work together are a beautiful tribute.

  5. It’s so wonderful you were able to help him with these two books. I’m sure it was a lot of work but well worth it to preserve his words and thoughts. My condolences again to you and your family.

  6. I’m so very sorry for your loss Barbara. I am so very touched by this gift he created, with your help (being part of the gift). I think sharing our family stories with younger generations is one of the greatest gifts we can give. He was a very wise man. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  7. So sorry to hear about your loss, you father was the same age as mine, my Dad died in March, they made them good in those days. I too spent many happy hours sorting through family history and like you, will have many happy memories. They will always be there for us x

  8. Dearest Barbara, the warmth and love between you and your father shines out here and your golden years of writing his books and publishing them will be ones to treasure forever; fond memories to help you through this most difficult time. I am so deeply sorry for your loss. Your father quickly won a place in so many of our hearts, his kind nature, direct, full of wisdom, experience all a beacon shining strong. May you and your family and friends find comfort in his life, your life together and love of each other. Hugs xx

  9. I’m sorry for the loss of your father, Barbara. You will miss him. But what a wonderful legacy he has left, and through that he will always be with you.

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