Saturday, May 30, 2015

Rest in Peace

It was a somber afternoon at the First Methodist Church in Springfield, VA when over 100 people paid tribute to a special friend and colleague of mine, Buddy Belote.

 Had he not lived to the ripe old age of 93, having attended the funerals of most of his friends and co workers, the church would not have been able to accommodate the hoard of mourners. Buddy was that respected...yes, but that's not the word I'm looking for....admired....yes, but....LOVED!  That's the word !

Buddy Belote
 He was an engineer at my old station, WTOP for 41 years, where he had the unofficial title of “Mother.” I think he would have been embarrassed if he had known that was his nickname, but all 100 plus of us who worked at the station knew who to go to for advice (work related or personal), or, who just needed a sympathetic ear. He didn't have a sign on his office saying anything like, “Got a problem, need advice? Knock here.” He didn't need it. Maybe psychologists have a name for charisma....or something, I don't know. But whatever it was, he had it.
 People with “issues” big and small were simply attracted to him like iron filings to a magnet.

 I'm sure his reputation for doing the “right thing” no matter the consequences, was a big part of it.

His youngest daughter, Jenny Yates, told a story about Buddy's young years in the early 1940's
when he worked for the Post Office as a letter carrier.. (He was turned down for the military because of partial blindness in one eye. His kid brother, Dinky, volunteered for the Army and was killed in action in 1944.)   Whenever Buddy learned of a family on his mail route, whose son or daughter had been killed overseas, he would, on his own, not deliver any future letters from the deceased, but put them aside and give them to the family much later. (Last letters from overseas often arrived a week or so after being written.) When his boss at the Post Office found out what Buddy was doing, he demanded that he stop.

Buddy refused.

 And once, when he saw a newly written letter that a soldier had written long after his family thought had been killed, Buddy delayed his other deliveries and immediately ran to the address of the lucky parents to hand them the good news.

Charles Mateer's Dog Tags

It made me think of our classmate, and my cousin, Charles Mateer whose Mom and Dad received a letter from him the day after being informed of his death. He died in Laos when his helicopter was shot down.

He was killed on this very day,  May 30, 1961; Memorial Day.