Tribute Tuesday—-Emil E “Skip” Chiles, Jr.

As promised today I am going to skip my Tuesday Teapots to honor my father in law.  We will be celebrating his life today and it just seemed appropriate.  The calls and emails and texts have been coming in.   People are expressing to us what he meant to them.  When you think about it—you never can really know how many lives you touch.  Dad touched more than most.  As a teacher he led by example.  As an administrator he made the fair and right decisions.  As a community leader he led with a sense of purpose.  As a father in law he was an encourager and cheerleader.  As a grandfather he loved without limitations.  As a father he loved.

My husband, Chris, is going to speak some words today at the service.   I decided to allow his words to be my tribute today.  He is “spot on” in what he says and  I could not say things any better today so with his permission I am sharing his words today with you.  Hope it helps you get a glimpse of a man who was a fighter and survivor throughout his life.

During the last two years, as Dad’s illness progressed I wondered what we would say at his service.  How do you explain to someone your relationship with your Dad?

Emil Eugene Chiles, Jr was a devoted son, Air Force Officer, Husband, Father, School Administrator, Grandfather, Uncle, Friend, and member of the Lima Community. He was an avid fly fisherman and hunter.

One of my earliest memories of my Dad summarizes his influence through all of our lives.  We were camping at Indian River Michigan at Burt Lake State Park.  This was a special place for him and his parents. They had vacationed and camped here since the early 30’s and his family loved to fish in the Sturgeon River and Burt Lake.  I was probably 6 or 7 years old, we woke up early, bundled ourselves in all of our thermal underwear, piled the fishing gear into the old station wagon and drove to one of his favorite fishing holes.  We had to cross the river to get the best fishing spot.  I held his hand as we crossed the river in our waders.  The water was high, the current was swift and I really didn’t weigh enough to really keep by feet anchored in the gravel.  But he had my hand, firmly held on to me and guided me to the other side and I knew that I would be safe.

When you are small your parents seem larger than life and I was always in awe of Dad.  He was extremely smart, worked very hard, made sure we had what we needed and wanted us to have more than what he had growing up.  He grew up during the depression and  World War II and he and has family got by but there wasn’t much extra.  He told me of having two pairs of shoes and two changes of clothes.  Looking in his closet today, that is not the case…..

His home growing up may not have had a lot material things but there was love and a very close family.  As I grew older I realized that my Dad’s personality was similar to my Grandmother  and that meant that he deeply cared for his family, friends, and people. He had a heart for service and people.

Dad ensured that we took great family vacations to Wyoming, New Hampshire, Maine, Florida, and the Smoky Mountains.  He guided us on career choices and what colleges might be the best for us.

Dad and Mom were a great example of two people truly in love and they showed us how  two people should love and respect each other and care for their family.

Dad nearly lost his life in a plane crash during his service in the Air Force.  He was in the Philadelphia Naval Hospital  for a year learning to walk again after breaking his back and spent another year recuperating with Uncle  Bryan  on the Rapid River. Dad had his first bout of cancer at age 53 and beat three different cancer surgeries.  He also survived a triple heart bypass and brain surgery.  In late 2006 he was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer.  The doctor told him he had 2 to 3 years but Dad was a fighter and lasted nearly 5 years.  He pushed on through the radiation, the chemotherapy, and the side effects so he could take care of Carl.  He had a life of many challenges but he faced them head on.

We knew the end was coming around April when his oncologist said he had about 6 months to live and we needed to consider hospice care.  This was very hard for him to accept since he had beaten the challenges before.  But the years of chemo couldn’t cure the cancer– they only delayed it.  Dad entered into hospice in June and now we had the privilege to serve our Dad.  Colleen is a great daughter and took outstanding care of our Dad.  Carl looked out for him and made sure the dishes, laundry, and trash were taken care of.   We shuttled back and forth between Ohio and Iowa to help out and to give Colleen a break.

About a week and half ago we just couldn’t continue the care at home and we put him into a nursing home.  This is a very difficult decision for any family but the staff at Golden Living did a fantastic job taking care of him.  One of the staff members had had Dad as a teacher in school and he was her favorite teacher.  His friends remember him fondly, the neighbors loved having him in the neighborhood.

We  are now grown, we have our own children and they are now adults and doing very well.  His love, care, and devotion to his family has been passed on.  I think seeing your children grow up, raise their children well, and passing on your love is the highest praise for you as a father.

Skip Chiles, always loved, will be greatly missed but we have great memories and no regrets.

As we went to the nursing home on last Thursday morning to hold his hand as the end was nearing, the air was cool smelled of Fall just being around the corner.  I said to my wife Beth, that this would be the perfect weather to go fishing with Dad.

He is in heaven now, waders on, pipe in his mouth, creel on his side, casting into a large pool and a very large grin on his face.

Well said, Chris, well said.  I love you and I loved your dad.  He raised you well.

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  1. My deepest condolences, Beth Ann.

    What a gracious tribute to a beautiful life.

  2. What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man.

    You have been truly blessed.

  3. What a special ma. You all have been blessed to have him in your lives.
    Chris, what a wonderful tribute!
    God bless you all.
    Love, Donna

    • Thanks so much, Donna! We had such a wonderful celebration of his life today and Chris did a great job!!! Thank you so muh for your kind words!!!

  4. Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute. Will be praying for you today!

  5. Becky Miracle says:

    You all are in our hearts everyday, but especially today! What a beautiful job Chris did with the tribute. I never had the honor of meeting Chris’ parents, but I know they raised a lioving, caring, giving, kind and wonderful son. You were blessed to have Skip in your life, as they have been blessed to have you also. The days a head will still be difficult, but I pray God will give you all comfort. Know you are in our prayers and will continue to be as you adjust to a different was of life.

    • Becky–thank you so much for your sweet words and your prayers. Chris did a great job today and paid tribute to his dad in a wonderful way. It was a really beautiful service and we caught up with a lot of family that we have not seen for awhile so that was great. Thanks so much for all of the prayers!

  6. Your father in law has “gone fishing.” What a wonderful tribute. Loved the pictures…I imagine the man in them left a lot of himself behind in all those lives he touched while on earth; he clearly made a difference.
    Death sucks for those left behind, there is no way around it, and how wonderful that you are surrounded by so much love and so many good memories to ease the grief.
    Sending your family love and light,

    • Katybeth—thanks so much—-we felt so much love today and it has been so wonderful. The celebration was wonderful and a great tribute to a fabulous man who will be missed beyond belief but who is fishing at last!!! Thanks for the sweet words!

  7. Christine M. Grote says:

    A heart-breaking post and a beautiful tribute. I hope everything today went the way you hoped it would.

    And wow. What a great fisherman.

    Life, aging, suffering, and death are so difficult to comprehend.

    • Thank you so much, Christine. You know a bit about grief and suffering, don’t you??? We had a wonderful celebration and it was worthy of a great man. Complete with a 21 gun salute which was a great send off. Thanks again.

  8. Beautiful pictures of a beautiful life. Thanks for sharing this wonderful family with us, Beth Ann. Hugs and deepest sympathy.

  9. ((hugs))

  10. Beth Ann, this is so beautiful. I’m truly sorry for your father in law. He lead a wonderful and beautiful life. What a great man!!! I don’t mean to sound Cliché but we all know he’s in a much better place right now. I’m sending you a big hugs to you and your family. With my deepest condolance. -Sendie

    • Thanks so much, Sendie. Today I am weary–I think the past 7 days caught up with me and the adrenaline is gone. You are very right, tho, he is in a much better place. Thank you, my friend, for your kind words. 🙂

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