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.