Approaching 93 years of age, my father, Walter Deloatch, Sr., is my hero and greatest source of inspiration. He’s a smart, tall, handsome man who rises up singing every morning and kneels to pray every night before he goes to bed.
Like many African American men of his generation, my dad was forced to abandon his education at twelve years old - to work on the farm and take menial jobs that stifled the spirits of many of his contemporaries - not Walter. His mother passed away when he was eight years old, but even that major tragedy didn’t prevent him from becoming a gifted carpenter and brick mason whose skill and expertise were in high demand for decades. He could stand outside a building and tell you how many bricks it would take to cover it and whether or not a structure was plumb and level. Had he been born in this modern era, I have no doubt that he would be a noted engineer or architect.
Most importantly, he has always been a committed family man who selflessly cares for others. As a mere child himself, he took on the responsibility of helping raise his siblings, and as a young man (returning fresh from World War II), he married my mother, Rosa Mae, and together they successfully raised ten children. Until I left for college, I’d lived my entire life in one house – the home my dad literally built for us. My father and mother nurtured and protected us, providing ample opportunities for us to pursue and fulfill our own paths and dreams.
Although he came of age during an era of bitter racial segregation and legal discrimination, my dad has always been forward thinking, positive and adaptable. He has an infectious smile, a subtle but wicked sense of humor and a warm and embracing personality. He chooses to focus on doing what he can to solve problems rather than wallowing in the pain or challenge of present circumstances. Even now, when he visits my siblings and me, after a few days he’s ready to return to his cozy senior apartment (only a few minutes from our family home where he also regularly spends time) because he has “things to do.”
---Lois Deloatch (May 26, 2017)