I woke up early on New Year’s Day 2021. The family was sound asleep, so I went to watch the sunrise with a cup of coffee. I reflected on 2020 and looked ahead to what I know will be a better year as I look forward to a new job, a slow return to normal life as we enter the age of the COVID vaccine and seeing friends and family.
At mid-morning I got a call that my father was nearing the end. He’d not been well for a while but the sudden turn for the worse was not what I was expecting. Kara, the kids and I hopped in the car for the hour and a half drive to my dad’s house. He passed when we were about 20 minutes away from arriving.
Thankfully he passed peacefully, and with his wife Brenda who had cared for him tremendously since suffering a stroke. We are grateful for all she did.
I wasn’t able to see him recently due to COVID. Kara and I were in quarantine that I just came out of on Thursday. As a result we couldn’t celebrate Christmas with my dad, and were hoping to do that soon. I had flown to see him in Florida in October and drove him and his wife from Bradley Airport in November when they returned home.
I’ll miss a whole lot about my Dad, especially his chats about his fascinating career. He was an electrical engineer for decades with Raytheon, working on classified government projects. He studied missile technology in college and later worked on radar for the U.S. Navy. Dad wasn’t allowed to talk too much about what he did, and I never entered his workplaces. I found a few photos of him on the job, including this one below, but their origin is not known.
Dennis Carl House traveled extensively for his job, including Europe and Asia. By the way, I have a different middle name, so I’m not a junior. I accompanied him on a couple of business trips, including one summer in college to a military base in Norfolk, Virginia. After I dropped him off, I stopped to take some photos of some really cool ships. Within minutes the military police were on me, telling me photography on the base was not allowed. Wherever he went Dad would send me postcards, and I’m compiling them for a future remembrance.
My dad was raised in Haverhill, Massachusetts, the second of four sons of an old Yankee and the daughter of Lithuanian immigrants. I will miss those stories of growing up in the 50s, and his favorite car a late 1950’s Oldsmobile, just like this one he spotted at a car show he took me to when I was in college.
He met my mom at Nortronics in Norwood, which later became Raytheon. Dad would get promoted and moved to other Raytheon plants in metro Boston, but Norwood was our home.
Dad loved the Patriots and took me to a game in the late 60s at Harvard Stadium where we got this pennant, that hangs in Julian’s room. He was a loyal fan and former season ticket holder, attending games with my brother for years including Super Bowls.
He loved genealogy. Inspired by the television miniseries “Roots”, When I was in high school we would head into Boston and go through records and trace our ancestors. We learned the House family came from England to Scituate, Massachusetts in 1634, and we visited graveyards and libraries in Maine and the Cape learning about our forefathers. His work in the 70s and 80s let an amazing discovery just about a year ago, thanks to the website Ancestry, we went all the way back to the year 700, and discovered we have royal Spanish blood.
We took some fun road trips, including one to the northern woods of Maine to visit his brother. We talked about everything during our 12 hours in the car, round trip. I encourage anyone with an aging parent to spend as much time with mom and dad as possible and talk about all the things on your mind. That Maine trip was a great time, and reminded me of how my dad hated traffic, dating back to family vacations to the Cape when he would load up the car and sit in bumper to bumper traffic, for us.
My father always told me how proud he was of me and constantly asked about my career in television news. He came to Rockford, Illinois to visit me at my first anchor job at WREX-TV, and a few times scheduled business trips to nearby Iowa so we could meet up.
Dad loved his grandchildren, and visited them in Hartford and Naples. Julian still remembers him at one of his baseball games.
He also loved golf, and planned on spending winters in Florida playing it. Now he can play every day in heaven. Godspeed Dad. Love you.
Funeral services will be private.
Categories: My life and family