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Saying farewell to a great ‘friend’

By Staff | Aug 2, 2015

The Big ‘C’ has struck again. Cancer has taken away another of my favorite people.

Luckily, I know that my father-in-law, Dean Wilkes, is in a much better place, and has joined with my mother-in-law, my father, brother, grandfather and far too many of my other relatives and friends who have also succumbed to one form or another of the Big ‘C’ and have left us and are now in heaven.

He died just after midnight last Tuesday, July 24 at the age of 84.

His death comes at a time when the staff here at the Faribault County Register is busy at work on our special tab section for the annual Faribault County Relay for Life event.

That event is always set for the second Friday in August. This year it will be held on Aug. 14, the latest date it can possibly be on because Aug. 1 is on a Saturday.

While the news staff here at the Register is busy writing several stories about cancer survivors who will be in the Relay for Life event, the committee that puts on the program is also quite busy right now.

So are the Relay for Life teams, who are out trying to plan what activities they will do at the event, as well as busy raising donations for their team to turn in on Aug. 14.

Each and every year the Relay for Life of Faribault County raises some serious cash that all go towards cancer research. Over the years, they have raised over $1 million just in our county.

I urge you to support this terrific event. You can buy a luminary in honor of or memory of someone, or go down to the fairgrounds on Aug. 14 and make a donation, enjoy some food and entertainment and have a good time all the while supporting a worthy cause.

Perhaps with enough money for cancer research we can find ways to cure the many forms of this awful disease.

And perhaps at least turn this Big ‘C’ into just a little ‘c.’

I will have to add to my father-in-law’s name to the luminary list this year.

I know we often use the phrase “he was a really nice guy,” after someone passes away, but that definition really fit for Dean Wilkes.

Everybody liked him. Including me. Maybe especially me. After all, he let me marry his then 19-year-old daughter, his first-born child. And I know now, as a father myself, that was probably not an easy thing for him to do.

We were more than a father-in-law and a son-in-law, we were very good friends.

After he retired, he and my mother-in-law even moved to the town my wife (and his daughter), Pam, and I were living in and then he worked part-time for us in our newspaper business as our bookkeeper for many years.

But, Dean and I were also golfing buddies. We even owned a golf cart together for many years.

We golfed a lot on our home course, but also all around Minnesota as well as North Dakota and Wisconsin.

Plus, we hit the links in some more exotic places such as Arizona, California, Alabama and Hawaii.

I enjoyed golfing with him. We were at about the same skill level, but with different methods. I hit the ball far but not always accurately. He was always safely down the middle of the fairway, but without a lot of distance. However, he was then always deadly accurate around and on the green.

At the end of the round, our scores were usually about the same.

Golf for me is not about the game, but the socializing as you play. And Dean and I had many a great time talking about life as we hacked our way around the course.

I’m going to miss that. I am a lucky guy, who was blessed with not one, but two great dads.

I would like to think that heaven has a beautiful golf course somewhere out back (and why wouldn’t it?). If it does, I know Dean will be teeing up on the first hole right about now.

And I am sure his drive will be right down the middle of the fairwayand probably further than he ever hit the ball before.