Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Eulogy for Philip W. Gardocki

“Duty, honor and perseverance," these are the words I would use to describe Philip Walter Gardocki. He was my father.

So what kind of a man was my father? In many cases, I only have to look in the mirror. We shared many mannerisms. All our clocks must be in synchronized. We both sing "Guinevere," when doing mundane tasks. We shared a number of "catch phrases", can run pi out to a dozen places,  and we both take a child like joy at solving strange problems.

Unnamed, but much appreciated
sailor plays a mournful taps.
The last problem we worked on involved measuring the diameter of a large artillery shell amidships on the USS Olympia, a pre WWI Light Cruiser docked in Philadelphia. The shell was secured to the wall and was immovable, and next to a gun that clearly was too small to fire it. In the end I used my belt to get the diameter, placed it on the slats of deck, then I pulled out my pen knife which had a 4" ruler on it to measure the slats.  Did you know that in year 1880, a 2x4 was actually 4" in width? Now its three and a quarter inches if you are lucky.  After that it was just a matter counting the slats and doing the math.

He was an amazing man; he would routinely ace Jeopardy, and was definitely smarter than a fifth-grader. And he fielded calls from each and every one of his grandchildren on various subjects ranging from the Bible, history, social studies and languages, of which he spoke at least seven.

To be sure my father had a lot of thorns. He could be abrasive, loud, and unforgiving. This same man placed fresh flowers in front of the Blessed Mother, every week, for 18 years, never missing a week. And when the going got tough, his sense of duty, honor, and perseverance has few peers. On many cases, when called to action, my father stepped forward, going above and beyond what was socially prescribed.

In the mid 1950s he heard the countrys call and volunteered to defend this countrys freedom. He spent 6 years in the Navy on board the USS Alamo, a ship he only out lived by 3 months. And for 50 years we thought he was just an Engine-man, albeit a brilliant one. He was the second youngest man to be promoted to Chief Petty Officer* in the post-World War II Navy. But only in the last two years he revealed that he was not just an Engine-man, that was just a cover, he was a spy and interpreter of communications between the Soviet Submarine Fleet and their home base. He mentioned once that he held up the sea trials for 3 days of the USS Nautilus, our nations first nuclear submarine, because he lost track of the Soviet Sub that had been assigned to follow her.

My first response to these revelations was that he had read too many Tom Clancy novels. But the proofs he offered quickly convinced me of the truth of the matter.

“Duty, honor and perseverance," fast forward to the late 90s, events were occurring that necessitated my sisters children to have a new home. My father, who was just about to retire, and with a new wife and family, stood and said, "We will take them!" And with perseverance, year in and year out, he made the drives, arranged the outings, made sure all the supports were there, and he never told them, that he was proud of them all, every one. 

*Though we now have evidence that it might be Chief Warrant Officer.

“Duty, honor and perseverance," now that those children are grown and seeking their own paths, he is still helping others, by diligently supporting his sister and his mother.
We are comforted knowing that he is in heaven, for he held every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.


  1. Skipper,
    Your eulogy made me realize that your father was very much like my own father. Both are good men that were always willing to help others; both kept their emotions hidden from others for the most part.

    Your father was also my stepfather. He will truly be missed by many people. I am honored to have known him and had him be a part of my life for all these years. RIP Phil...

    Your "sister",

  2. Carla, Thanks, I have only been maybe 1% of his life these last 2 decades, but am finding alot about him after the fact.

    See you