A Man of Integrity (Meet My Dad by Cathy)

24 05 2015

Clyde Lenhart or Clyde-E as we referred to him was one of five children in a well-known family back in Fremont, Ohio. They owned a thriving construction company prominent in the region. Clyde’s older brother was a popular musician in the areCathy and Dad_NEWa and had quite a following. The whole family was well-liked and outgoing. Clyde, on the other hand, had a severe hearing problem which left him at a definite disadvantage so he generally remained quiet and was even seen as somewhat backwards. His family was not always good for his morale telling him often he would never amount to anything. But Clyde E. was far from dumb and God had special plans for this “Traveler of the Rock Road.

Clyde dropped out of school in his teens and joined the Navy to do his part in the war effort going on in Europe and the Pacific. He was assigned to an aircraft carrier that was preparing for a great battle. But before that occurred he took violently ill and had to be taken off the ship and left at a hospital in Hawaii. But as I said God had a purpose for Clyde’s life and it wasn’t a great sea battle. The ship sailed on and was involved in one of the biggest sea battles of WW2, the Battle of Guam where half the men on his ship would lose their lives.

Returning from the war, Clyde would meet and fall in love with Bette Smith; they would marry in July of 1947 and stay together until the Lord called them home. Both dearly wanted a family, but due to an earlier injury in her life, sadly child bearing would become physically impossible for Bette. Making the decision to try and adopt, they obtained information on a little girl up for adoption in a nearby town, and as you’ve probably figured out by now Clyde E. became my father, the greatest dad a little girl could be blessed with.

As I mentioned, and contrary to his family’s opinion, Dad was gifted with many skills too numerous to mention. He was a carpenter, mechanic, plumber, electrician, even a natural mathematician (Pretty awesome fact about a man that never finished high school and whose family told him he was dumb!– a true jack of all trades who could literally make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, to coin an old phrase. I remember getting a stroller for Christmas one year that Dad had picked up at the dump. He straightened the frame, painted it and installed new wheels while mom sewed a new seat and canopy. He remodeled all of our home at various times, built a garage, bought old cars and restored them on the outside as well as repairing engine problems. Once the cars were repaired and painted, Dad would set them out in front of the house to sell. He had such a steady hand at painting that he actually painted the cars with a hand brush and you would have to look very closely to see even the hint of a brush stoke. Dad was so honest; he always told everything that had been wrong with the cars and what he had done to repair them. It sure didn’t hinder sales. He never failed to get rid of them. I remember him tearing out the seats of an old school bus and transforming it into a camper, which we drove all the way to New York on vacation.

As I said at the beginning, Dad was a quiet man with a meek sprit. Part of that, if you knew my folks, was probably because mom was quite domineering making it hard to get a word in edgewise and so I think my Dad pretty much gave up trying. In retrospect, I wish that I had tried to draw him out for in many ways I did not know him. John was very fortunate because while they would hang out in the garage together away from the women-folk, he and Dad would actually have opportunity to talk.

Dad was always the one who would play games with me, take me fishing, swimming, roller skating and drive me places I needed to go before I could drive. I remember one time we went out on our boat to fish on Lake Erie. Dad knew just where he wanted to go and when we got there, he dropped anchor, got our poles out and barely got started fishing when looking a little green around the gills, I said, “Dad, I don’t feel so good.” Without any anger or frustration, he pulled up anchor and set out for home.

Dad was never the disciplinarian of the family. I think he was he was afraid I wouldn’t like him if he punished me, so mom took on that responsibility. Nonetheless, I learned so many great things from my Dad.  He had a great work ethic—he never missed work unless he was on death’s door. He was a man of great integrity, honesty and kindness. No matter that his family had treated him poorly; he didn’t hate them or treat them badly when they called him to ask for favors. He just went and helped them without asking anything in return. What a godly example he was to me.

Even though Dad was humble in his ways and manners it certainly was no deterrent for him being the spiritual leader of our little family. He loved his Lord deeply and his easy ways and personally spoke volumes to me on what the Christian life and following Jesus was all about.

Galatians 5:22-23 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  Or as another individual put it; “Meekness is not weakness, just strength under control”

Not long after Dad retired, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He went through chemotherapy and radiation treatments and lived another year. That year was not good physically speaking, but still in the fashion of Clyde E. Lenhart you heard little complaining. God was gracious and we were home the weekend Dad died. I remember the last time I saw him from the hallway outside his bedroom. He was now too weak to talk but he gave me his best smile, his way of saying, “Never forget how much you mean to me, and how much I love you.” The next morning it was John who found that Dad, in his same quiet fashion had slipped away to Heaven. Dad is waiting for us in Heaven now. I’m so anxious to see both he and my mom who has now gone on also.

In closing I’d like to share with you a poem I wrote for Dad after he went Home to be with Jesus.

When I used to think of heaven

And its streets of shining gold,

I was anxious to go thru its gates

and meet the saints of old.

To walk and talk with Jesus

will be joy beyond compare.

To be in His presence always

of His goodness ever share.

But now the Gates of Glory

an added treasure hold.

For my Father has gone there to live

His face I’ll soon behold.

Blessings to you and your loved ones,

Cathy

 


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