Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Poet Laureate, An Astronaut Said So!

My father was lauded by a great many people for his beautiful writing skills, particularly his poetry.  The personalized poems he wrote for birthdays, weddings, and retirement parties, not to mention many more special celebrations, eventually earned him the greatest title of his lifetime.

As a 26-year employee at Kennedy Airport's Eastern Airlines, Dick Brennan was known by so many people around the airport.  His friendly smile and heavy Irish brogue were just the first things people noticed about him.  His mannerisms with his cigarettes, his hands folded behind his back, and his particular look were all part of the second.  But it was the man behind the mannerisms and the accent that really affected people who met him and knew him. 

A gate agent at Eastern Airlines, Dick Brennan had many brief interactions with thousands and thousands of people from all around the world.  Celebrities, superstars, and famous musicians alike came through his airline gates.  Maureen O'Hara, The Beatles, and the list goes on. 

As people from all over boarded their flights through his gates, my father had to deal with every complaint imaginable, people yelling and screaming at him as if he was the one who made the rain pour and winds blow.  But it wasn't people like this who kept him there so long, or loving his job so much.  It was his friends and colleagues at Eastern Airlines and Kennedy Airport who made each day so very enjoyable.

And poem after poem, newsletter after newsletter, Dick Brennan quickly became the go-to man for personalized poetry.  He no doubt had to turn many people down, as the requests must have come from all over.  But as his reputation as a great writer grew, so too did his esteem from his friends and colleagues.  He eventually earned the amazing title, "Poet Laureate of Kennedy Airport".  In 1975, he wrote a "We The People" poem and an Employees' Constitution for the Eastern Airlines team at Kennedy Airport.  It was so well received in fact, it was framed and hung in the executive offices.  More impressively, it got the attention of one very special man.

Frank Borman was an astronaut at NASA, and as the Commander of Apollo 8, he manned the very first mission to fly around the moon.  When he eventually retired, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor recipient took over as CEO at Eastern Airlines, a position he held for the next 11 years.  But in his very first year, he heard about my dad.  And in a letter to him dated October 17, 1975, Frank Borman wrote:

Dear Dick:

Jack Piverotto showed me copies of the "We The People" poem and the employees' "Constitution" which you authored for your local Employee Sales Program.

With your unique talent, it's no wonder the people of Kennedy consider you their poet laureate!

Thank you for your interest and efforts in this most important program.

Frank Borman

A career and a life filled with poetry.  An honor from one of the greatest Americans in history.  A title given him by his peers that he proudly held his whole life long.

Today, November 6, 2013, is my father's birthday.  He was born in 1926, so if he were alive today, he'd be 87 years old.  No matter.  The life he lived, with its ups and downs--just like the airplanes he watched each day--was a good one.  And his greatest honor is one I celebrate with his soul today. 

Happy Birthday, Dad!  May your proud legacy continue forever!

I love you and miss you, and look forward to the day when I board my flight to see you again!