My Father

My Father – Everett Lewis Regel

My father, Everett, was born in 1913 in Charles City, Iowa to Alphonso Edward Regel and Bessie Belle Kern.  Alphonso, better know as Al, was the manager of a shoe store, the owner of the Big Elm Motel, and was the County Treasurer for a time.  Bessie, better know as Bess, was  an honor graduate of Cornell University in 1907 and was a teacher and social worker.  Together they owned and managed the Big Elm Motel.

My father had one older brother, Keith Alphonso Regel, born a year before in 1912.  Being close in age, they naturally were close as brothers.  They both worked for IT&T as young adults both in Des Moines, IO and in New York City.  Keith married and moved to IL with my three cousins, Susan, Joyce and Candy. Because my father had been ill with rheumatic fever as a child, he suffered  permanent damage to his heart valves causing a heart murmur and ineligibility for the draft in WWII.

In high school my father was a member of the Spanish Club, the Debate Club, Glee Club, participated in numerous school plays and musicals, and was also a Cheer Leader.  After graduating from high school during the Great Depression in 1931 my father moved to New York where he lived with his uncle, Howard Kern and Aunt Edna (whom I was named after).  While in NY, my father attended New York University, majoring in Business Administration.  He also  joined the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, and worked for IT&T.  His musical talents led him to join the New York Men’s Glee Club which performed at Carnegie Hall.

In 1940 my parents met.  I remember him telling the story of  going to pick up my mom for a date, and sitting a long while on her front porch just listening to her play the piano.  He was captivated by her musical talent.  They married in November  1941 and moved to New Jersey where my mother was living.  My sister was born in 1943 and I came along three years later in 1946.

During these early years of their marriage they were quite happy living in a suburb of Newark, NJ.  They had a cabin on nearby Tabor Lake that we spent time at in the summer.  These were some of the happiest memories I have of my childhood. My parents had a lot of friends and had lots of parties.  My grandmother, Nana, also lived near us.

In April 1952 during the postwar aerospace industry boom my parents decided to move west to California and we set off in our “woody” station wagon with our dog “Daisy” to cross the US via the southern route.  Given that my father was an avid photographer, he captured the trip in its entirety on film, leaving a great wealth of family memories.  We arrived in Santa Monica that summer and he began looking for work which he found at Lockheed Martin.

Soon my grandmother joined us at our new home in Pacific Palisades, CA.  My parents slowly developed some new friendships and bridge partners.  We had cousins living in Manhattan Beach that we loved visiting.  My father enjoyed the hobby of archery, making his own bows and arrows.  We all had our own and enjoyed target practice in the yard.

We moved a number of times during those years, until we settled in Arcadia, CA where my father built four houses on a large piece of property.   He enjoyed the whole building process and I tagged along watching every step with him.  It was something we shared together.  He also built me an outdoor bird aviary for my parakeets.  That was something very special that he did for me.

San Moritz Club Lodge

In the summers we spent time at the San Moritz Club located at Lake Gregory, CA. where we rented cabins.  It was lovely to escape the heat of the valley and enjoy the fresh mountain air, swimming, ice skating, dancing and playing games.

Soon after I left for college however, my parents separated.  I didn’t return home often after that.  My father rented an apartment which I never visited.  Following a diagnosis of prostate cancer my mother relented on her desire for a divorce, and they were reunited.  Not long after that however, he suffered from Rheumatic Heart Disease and had one of the early heart valve replacement surgeries in 1973.  Unfortunately he died during the operation.   I visited him in the hospital the night before his surgery and he asked me to forgive my mother for their problems.  I’m thankful that I made the effort to see him that one last time.