In the late 1940s & early 1950s, after their dad died, Uncle Hap was the man of the house. Grandma was already in over her head and not terribly strong, so Hap took charge. His name was Harold, but everyone called him Happy, until he was a teenager and Happy wasn't cool, so it became Hap. He was pretty much Mom's hero. He taught her to drive, across dirt fields in his old pick-up truck. He took things in stride, or seemed to, so people around him felt comforted and reassured.
There's a family legend in which Uncle Hap, along with my dad's brother Rob, climbed to the top of the Golden Gate Bridge. They caused quite a stir when they couldn't be seen past the fog that rolled in. They slipped by police and back to the waiting car some time later. When asked if they'd really climbed up there, they replied, "I'm not saying anything, except that was some view."
Uncle Hap, for many years, was director of libraries at University of Nevada, Reno. Even after he retired, he continued to work among the books and catalogs, and he was instrumental in incorporating the digital age into the paper sanctuary. He has a reputation as a calm, supportive, effective leader that will live on in the hearts of students, teachers, colleagues, and library staff.
Uncle Hap died last week after a long illness. His sister, Shirley, also died just a couple of months ago. I've never known a group of siblings as close, loving, and devoted to one another as my mom's family. Shirley and Hap's lives were long and full, and fond memories will linger, but they will be missed by all whose lives they touched.
Uncle Hap is just one piece of the extraordinary legacy that has been passed on to me, and that continues to shape me and guide my work. I'm almost unbearably grateful.