With Respect and Love, a Tribute to My Father, a Kansas Lawyer, 0819 KSBJ, 88 J. Kan. Bar Assn 7, 24 (2019)

AuthorBy Matt Keenan
Position88 J. Kan. Bar Assn 7, 24 (2019)

With Respect and Love, a Tribute to My Father, a Kansas Lawyer

88 J. Kan. Bar Assn 7, 24 (2019)

Kansas Bar Journal

August, 2019

By Matt Keenan

Most of us have reached that stage in life when we must say goodbye to one or more of our parents. With that inevitability, we come to understand the difficulty of a singular experience that usually follows the funeral, the notes and the long ride back home.

What I’m talking about is the process of inventorying and then donating your parent’s clothes. For me, it happened on an otherwise uneventful Saturday morning in April, in Great Bend. My sisters—Kate and Beth, brothers—Marty and Tim —and I gathered in Dad’s bedroom in his home at 3616 17th Street. Our mom had predeceased Dad by 16 years. This was it.

Dad’s closet wasn’t a walk-in; here was nothing “California” about it. You would not see it featured on one of those design shows on Channel 983 on the Dish Network. It sported louvered doors that fold back horizontally. Te style found in Mike Brady’s bedroom on the Brady bunch. They were wildly popular when Apollo 11 made history. Te size, by contemporary standards, was very small. Yet, as we folded back the doors and surveyed the inventory, it looked enormous.

In no time, the king-sized bed was draped with Hickey Freeman suits, Brooks Brothers sport coats, Joseph Banks sweaters, Haggar slacks, Nordstrom dress shirts and Rockport shoes. Te ties showed style. Te best ones slipped away—those with private labels from Halls, Dillard’s, and Macys—now hanging in a closet that most certainly does have a California fair. Mine. But I digress.

Dad’s wardrobe made a statement. Emblematic of 65 years working his craft in a city where he loved doing what he did, every day. Where, for most of those years, he practiced with his brother, Bob, in a modest one-story brick building at 1815 Broadway— directly south of J.C. Penney, a half-a-block to the east from the courthouse square and a half-a-block west of St. Rose Church. His kingdom.

Dad was part of the Greatest Generation. And if you fought for our freedoms, you should absolutely dress like that victory h ad meaning. Every single day was an opportunity to prove he was going places. I can never recall a day when he let things go. He was always clean shaven, kept his hair off his ears and always had a plan. He never, ever, in his 89 years of life, was ever seen in sandals, tank tops or jean shorts.


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