As you look at the program today, you will note that it says 'February 23, 1927 dash May 10, 2000'. It is the small dash that I want to discuss today.
When I first met Preston, or Uncle Chuck as I called him,, I was four years old and I was not very happy with my uncle. My one and only Auna, as I had named Freda when I was a child, had married this man and moved to Maryland. I would talk to her on the phone and beg her to come back to Virginia but for some reason she wanted to stay with this guy Preston.
Four years later, they finally listened to me and moved to Vienna, across the street from where my sister Robyn and I lived. For the next 27 years, Robyn and I grew up a stones throw from my uncle and aunt and learned first-hand two characteristics which best describe Preston. They are faithfulness and fun.
Anyone who knew him recognizes immediately the depth of his commitment to all aspects of his life. He did nothing halfheartedly.
Faithful to his church, he escorted my aunt, my sister, and me to church most Sundays, actively participating in all aspects of church fellowship. As children, we were impressed by how seriously he took his responsibility as an usher on Sundays -- and how much he enjoyed escorting people to worship.
His Christian life has impacted our faith and should comfort us as we say goodbye to him.
Faithful in his work, Preston taught us all an important lesson that he applied to every project he undertook -- plan well and do it right the first time. Of course, our Aunt Freda could probably tell a few stories of some of his more humorous lapses, but that made him even more fun.
We remember our Uncle's love of classical music and his expressiveness as a conductor during the more moving parts of musical pieces when in his workshop he would stop whatever he was doing in order to conduct his imaginary National Symphony Orchestra.
In addition to teaching his sons Ronnie and Edward his profession, his life teaches us all to respect a job well done.
Faithful to his family and friends, he never minced at expressing what he truly believed. There was nothing phony about Preston. As tough as he sounded, his love was always evident for his children and grandchildren. However, there was never any doubt to any of us who his real little girl was. We all knew it was Priscilla.
Faithful to my aunt, Preston and Freda were inseparable. Whether preparing for a party, a charity event, a fun trip, or on their RV, our minds will see them always together.
Faithful to his organizations, Preston taught us all how to be dedicated to one's endeavors and how to have a fun time doing so. I am reminded of being with him at REACT events where we monitored CB Channel 9 during parades and fund-raising walks. As a young boy, I was ecstatic when he helped me put up a CB antenna on my roof.
His curriculum vitae is endless and includes membership and participation in the Masons, REACT, the Shriners, the Eastern Star, the Elks Club, the first electronic Masonic bulletin board--Hiram's Oasis, square dancing, the volunteer fire department, cub scouts, and even helping Robyn with her many college projects.
How wonderful a life that had to meet pulmonary fibrosis. Since the time of his diagnosis, we have all felt terrible. My four-year-old daughter Sahada, seeing Uncle Chuck near the end, asked my wife when he might get well. When hearing how serious his illness was, Sahada summed up all of our feelings by sobbing all the way home.
Preston was a brilliant, dedicated, principled, honorable, and fun person to us all. Thank you Auna for taking such loving care of our Preston during the several years of his illness. As you will, we will cherish him forever.