Posted by: SJS | June 16, 2019

A Father’s Day gem of wisdom

“The older I get, the smarter my father gets”

Brilliant.  That is a true gem of wisdom if ever there was one.  In today’s edition of The Washington Post, I came across those words in a column by John Ficarra who, it just so happens, was the editor of Mad Magazine from 1985 to 2018.  The quote isn’t original to Ficarra but he shares it with his readers in his superb essay which is a beautiful tribute to his hard working, devoted father.  For his work at Mad Magazine and his gift of sharing these profound words of wisdom, I offer John my thanks.

My father, George “Red” Stahley, was smart enough to learn Morse Code as a teenager, courageous enough to serve his country on small, fragile boats in the Mediterranean Sea and the South Pacific, bold enough to convince a stunning Irish beauty named Rita Marie O’Neill to marry him in 1950, daring enough to launch a drive to unionize salesmen in the trucking industry in the 1960s, and devoted enough to provide for five children and see them all grow up and live productive, generative lives.

When he passed away in November of 1999, a month shy of his 74th birthday, he was still in possession of his sharp wit and mischievous sense of humor.  As my mother and sisters and I gathered around him in his hospice bed in suburban Philly, as his breath was failing him, he was still able to deliver a few deft remarks that reduced us to uncontrollable laughter.  Remembering those perfectly timed remarks still evoke laughter (and a few tears) all these years later.

In the years since his death, as I spoke with PT vets who served with him in the Med and the dense jungle rivers of the Philippine Islands, I was reduced to an awed silence time after time after time as they spoke with raw emotion and even reverence for the young sailor from Philly whose skills with communications technology, coolness under fire, and loyal friendship helped them to survive the horrific terrors of war.  His memory evoked towering respect from these men who–over a span of more than fifty years–had only grown more grateful that he was there for them.

With each  passing year, Red Stahley does, indeed, get smarter.

And you better believe I know it.


In the photo, Red and a crew mate pose on PT 373 after a hard day’s work somewhere in the South Pacific.


  1. Great tribute to your dad. He was an awesome man. I know you miss him. We all do.

    • Thanks, Cyndy. I know how much he enjoyed his visits with you and Michael and all the Morris Clan up in Camp Hill. I appreciate your kind words.

  2. There’s something about that generation that made men of steel out of teenagers. This is a wonderful tribute to your father.

    • Thanks very much, GP, I appreciate your good words. Keep up the great work on your blog from which I’ve learned so much over the years.

      • We have learned from each other, my friend.

  3. Really nice tribute!

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