Memories of Dad on his Birthday

Posted on April 29, 2013 by Daniel C. Lavery(Click on photos to read and expand)

He was born in Morgan Park Illinois April 28 of 1910

Athletic, scholarly, and musical who became a man of men

Loving animals and horses, especially his own called "Pep"

He was handsome and polished and seldom out of step

Possessed of musical talent he played the piano and the trumpet

Strumming the ukulele he sang about a honky-tonk strumpet

An outstanding Morgan Park Military Academy Grad

His achievements, skills, and talents made his family most glad

Appointed to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis

Brought his father, Poppy, and mother, Gammie, exceptional bliss


Richard J. Lavery Jr, Midshipman, USNA, 1928-32


(Dad as a midshipman at Annapolis)

Basketball, soccer, baseball, football, lacrosse, sailing, and even polo

At formal recitals he played many a magnificent trumpet solo

While a midshipman he fell for a beautiful debutant: Hilda Crim

Her grace and beauty, love of tennis and raccoons, made his head swim

Soon they were married after he graduated in nineteen thirty two

During the Great Depression, an insurance career he wisely did pursue

He raised a family with a lovely girl and two athletic boys

And gave unselfishly to provide for them a multitude of joys

Music, stories, travel, camping, sports, fishing to name only a few

He filled their lives with these and always found more for them to do

Dad naval officer photo story Our Picture of the Month USS George F. Elliot

(Dad leaves for World War II after eight years as an insurance agent 1932-40)

Uncle Sam came a-calling him to return to face the brutal enemy

In ruthless World War II with fascist dictators and gross barbarity

A gunnery officer on the George F. Elliott, a transport ship

At Guadalcanal what seemed in the smoke-filled sky only a blip

Grew into a descending Japanese warplane known as a Kamikaze

That his blazing guns tore into but instead of falling into the sea

Struck the Elliot broadside in a deadly gasoline fed fireball

Down to a sea grave slowly went the transport as nothing could stop its fall

 A friendly destroyer rescued the crew that fearful and fateful day

 Because of brave me like "Bull" Halsey and a man known as "R.J."

 Yamamoto and his fleet were left limping and slinked back to Tokyo

 Our proud protectors of liberty forced the foolish fascists where to go

 On to Korea when duty called him again in nineteen fifty three

 Commanding officer of an amphibious ship called an "LSD"

The USS Whetstone with Lavery at the helm was a beauty at sea

    CHAPTER 7 USS Whetstone (LSD-27)                                    (USS Whetstone(LSD-27))

It was Dad's first command and he did her splendidly

Even rescued capsized Japanese fishermen he noticed adrift

Opened the dry-dock saving men and boat in a manner swift

Earned honors from Japan and our Navy for his humanitarian deed

He was never one to by-pass helpless persons at sea in need

Rescued hundreds of fleeing Vietnamese from Saigon

By navigating the Whetstone in the shallow river Mekong

His crew enjoyed the way he played his ukulele and sang a song

He was a model naval captain who knew and taught right from wrong

Gained respect and honor for his naval skill and industrious toil

Commanded the USS Chemung carrying to the fleet precious oil

USS Chemung (AO 30) head on (Dad when a Navy Captain and the USS Chemung he captained)

Retired from Naval Service after a dedicated thirty years

And became one of those McDonnell Douglas Quality Control Engineers

He always provided for his family as he was a frugal man

Invested for his and their future and prepared a well-organized plan

He cared for his loving mother when she became ill and very old

Took her to many doctors because his heart was made of gold

 When his sister Jane's diabetes became the brutal brittle type

 He gave up his Long Beach ocean view and moved close without a gripe

 As he grew older he fractured his left hip and was forced to use a cane

Then a wheelchair, had another fracture that caused excruciating pain

He found peace when he played his ukulele and launched into singing

To our family and his dog Pablo when on life he was barely clinging

Dad, we will always remember you for the memories you left us all

And hold high the course you navigated while you always stood tall

Duty, honor, country, family and pets, to these you were always true

We are proud on your birthday to always respect and honor you.

Dad, Paul, Jane back Val, Chip, and Dan Morgan Park  1945,Hilda and Val and Jane and Val 1939

(Dad, Uncle Paul, Aunt Jane top, Val, Chip, and Dan

Mom and Val

Val and Aunt Jane)

Valerie and Chip 1939(Val and Chip 1939)CHAPTER 11Chip Plebe year Annapolis 1956

(Chip an Annapolis midshipman-plebe 1956)

CHAPTER 21 Dan by wall third class year Annapolis 1961

(Dan a midshipman at Annapolis near a wall some people scaled on a boring weekend night)

Dad, Nicky, Paige, Tico, Dan, and Valerie Lee June 1956

(Valerie Lee, Dan, Paige and Tico, Dad, and Nicky at Yokosuka 1956)

Dad at Yokosuka Naval base Japan 1955 (Dad as commanding officer Headquarters Support Activity Yokosuka, Japan 1955-57) Captain Richard J. Lavery, Jr. USN

Dad's Memorial 4 28 09(Richard John Lavery Jr.,  Apr 28, 1910-Mar 8, 1998)



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Blase Bonpane a Mighty Voice for Fundamental Change

Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society Onion

(The "Onion" where the Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society holds services)

Enthusiastic activist, former Jesuit priest, Director of Office of the Americas, and author of "Imagine No Religion", Blase Bonpane, spoke today at the Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society morning service. He began by singing in his persuasive mellow voice:

"Last night I had the strangest dream I ever dreamed before. I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war. I dreamed I saw a mighty room. The room was filled with men. And the paper they were signing said they'd never fight again.

And when the papers all were signed and a million copies made. They all joined hands and bowed their heads and grateful prayers were prayed. And the people in the streets below were dancing round and round. And guns and swords and uniforms were scattered on the ground. Last night I had the strangest dream I ever dreamed before. I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war"

Setting that tone of his prophetic wisdom, so much a part of his life’s work, he guided the congregation at the "Onion", with his vision of how our present political system has failed to deliver the most essential values of an intelligent caring society dedicated to a better world. Instead we have become the world's terrorist in leading the number of killings of human beings since World War II.

We stand 34 in the world on how a country treats our children and 43 in the truth of our publication of the news. He emphasized that you can judge the values of a country by how they treat their children. He demolished our pompous claim to exceptionalism based more on religious faith than fact.

He reminded me of why I came to the Onion in 1983 when I wanted to find a church that was involved in the peace movement, and had a youth program to bring to ours 2, 5, and 9 for an outside caring influence. I had noticed members of Unitarian Churches were strong activists for the United Farm Workers when I worked as an attorney for Cesar Chavez, and this was the closest UU Church in Sepulveda only five miles from our home.

Farley Wheelwright led the congregation in rousing sermons on peace, social justice, and protests against nuclear weapons at Rockwell and other defense oriented corporations. He often dedicated sermons to the ravaging of Nicaragua, Guatemala, and other locations by our CIA sponsored terror and support of ruthless dictators. An Onion parishioner, Nick Sedita, led the congregation and others in the nationwide nuclear freeze movement. I became chair of the Social Concerns Committee and my wife was in charge of “religious education” where our children learned to appreciate nature, peace, music, and respected people of different races and cultures.

Bonpane lived and worked with the realities of liberation theology for more than a quarter of a century. In his book, Guerrillas of Peace, he takes the reader from the high country of Huehuetenango in Guatemala to intensive grass roots organizing in the United States. He shows that we cannot renew the face of the earth and coexist with the torturing, murdering governments of Guatemala and El Salvador, and their accomplices in Washington.

In his sermon he urged us to understand that a new person has to be formed to make our world the place we want to raise our children and live fully. This revolutionary person insists that human values be applied to government. That leads to a remarkable and necessary conclusion...children should not be free to die of malnutrition, no one should be allowed to die of polio or malaria, women should not be free to be prostitutes, no one should be illiterate. The loss of these freedoms is essential for a people to make their own history. This is the Theology of Liberation, the kind of theology that made the early Church an immediate threat to the Roman Empire.

He reminded us of Eleanor Roosevelt’s statement of basic human rights that includes health care, and education as a requirement of a developed country. So far behind on this is the United States as well as many other countries, we see college students burdened with $90,000 in education costs that maybe the government will allow a lower interest rate on when a developed country should provide the education as a basic human right like health care at no cost.

On the environment Bonpane reminds us our oceans contain an area as large as Texas filled with plastic bottles that have come to rest there. Instead our country keeps relying on nuclear power when no one knows what to do with the enormous radioactive waste. The air we breathe and water we drink is not just for America that represents only 4% of the world, but for everyone so we must learn to work together with all nations despite our differences.

We can’t allow the Lockheeds of the Military Industrial Complex to continue to reap the benefits of a trillion dollars set aside for nuclear weapon improvements on the 2014 models with these disparities facing us. On the positive side recently a huge union movement in New York that attracted hundreds of thousands of marchers demanded wage increases to $15/ hour and an anti-war movement including veterans is gaining momentum and has actions to bring attention to the peace movement so necessary to gather international support.

To think that in Yemen we have provided drones to the Saudi dictatorship to attack the Houthis who are fighting our enemy Al Qaeda is madness. 23 years of war with Iraq, sending our troops there and killing them as well as those in the area has only increased the hatred for the US Military and shows our foreign policy is not working. We must challenge all these developments with all our energy or we will not have a planet for our children that is fit for human life.

Bonpane, former Maryknoll priest and superior, was assigned to, and expelled from, Central America. UCLA professor, contributor to the L.A. Times, N.Y. Times, commentator on KPFK, and author of many publications, he is currently Director of the Office of the Americas, a broad-based educational foundation dedicated to peace and justice in this hemisphere.

Blase is a vanguard practitioner of liberation theology and a former Maryknoll priest. In the wake of the Second Vatican Council 1962-1965 many religious people, especially those serving in Latin America, began to understand a spirituality that transcended sectarianism. Having come from an upwardly mobile Italian American family marked by Southern Italian anti-clericalism, Blase was accustomed to hearing his parents express real differences with their institutional church.

He served in Guatemala during a violent revolution and was expelled for “subversion.” After receiving a gag order from the Church, which he could not in good conscience accept, Blase met with the editorial board of the Washington Post and released all of the material he had regarding the U.S. military presence in Guatemala. This action led to his separation from the Maryknoll Fathers.

Blase accepted a teaching post at UCLA. While serving in academia, he met the former Maryknoll Sister Theresa Killeen, who had served in Southern Chile. They married in 1970. Their adventures include working directly with Cesar Chavez at his headquarters in La Paz, California, building solidarity with the Central American Revolution, forming the Office of the Americas, working in the forefront of the international movement for justice and peace, and raising two children.

Bonpane also worked on the ground for international peace in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Cuba, Japan and Iraq. He led the U.S. contingent of the International March for Peace in Central America from Panama to Mexico in 1985-1986.

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Solar Panels, Roofing, Swimming Pool, and Problem Solving

Squirrel Hill west with trees

You may wonder how this odd grouping of subjects could possibly make a coherent piece of advice. These topics have descended on me and my wife recently and led to a determined effort to problem solve. Without mentioning names of people or products I hope the reader will find valuable information from our experience regarding approaching anything involving improving your home that contributes to our environment.

 A family we know recently bought a home with solar panels and raved about their low electric bill from what was promoted by a company as the very best solar panels anywhere. Of course we asked representatives to give us our options. They also said they did roofing using the best 50 year warrantied roof shingles on the market so we need not look for a separate roofing contractor. They did say we should get all the estimates we wanted from other companies because they knew no one could match them. Every person from this company was courteous, intelligent, articulate, and helpful in informing us of all options, how solar from their company had no meaningful competitors, and we should begin as soon as possible. They even wrote up a proposal that was based on the Google photo that showed the dimensions of our roof and all the trees around it. There were plenty of tall ones as our live Xmas tree from 1983 had grown to more than 100 feet tall west of our living room fifteen feet from our swimming pool. Their rep said we could save more than 81K in the 25 years of warranty their product had and we needed 28 of the world’s best panels that outlasted all others. Although I personally thought the location they selected needed to be changed due to our trees, they were sure their plan was right although a shade test would have to confirm it. We thought we had found no reason to look further from the glowing photos, information, and reports we were shown.

Squirrel dark orange sunset

They sent two other reps in successive days who were as courteous as the first. The marketing rep wondered how anyone could consider throwing away 81K to the DWP and more considering rising prices of electricity projected in the future. A printout explained how much we would save considering all the rebates the government and DWP would provide. Another came out the next day who went into the attic to photo what he could of the condition of our roof. He inspected and photographed our fuse panel, and went on the roof to use an expensive camera that was able to tell the shade expected during a 24 hour period at our location. He commented that our roof scored a 90! We were blown away with confidence thinking a 90 sounded like an A.

Squirrel Maple in back

A phone call offering further advice suggested we have our pool man order a variable pump that would save us an additional $40 a month on electricity. But we were told we “desperately” needed to change the fuse box that would cost about 3K and the score of 90 meant our roof had more shade than they originally thought so we needed 3 more panels. They also said the location I thought the panels should go was correct. That improved my growing anxiety as the owner aware of what tree shade existed since I had planted some of those trees for shade and beauty. The price went up so that their new projection saved only 72 K, but had to also factor in 3K for the panel box. Since I was a senior citizen and would not need a 50 year roof, I asked could we find areas to reduce the price?

Squirrel Ginger and Barkley together near garden

They said we could roof over our original 25 year-old roof to save money. They would put a synthetic blanket over our roof before nailing down the new roof over it. They said they could use the rebates on that half of the roof calling that new portion of the roof part of a solar project for even a further reduction in price. We gave them a $1000 check they required to hold their quote on the entire project for 30 days. Also they said removing the roof would cost about 2-3 K so this was best. They added that despite these calculations our monthly electric bill would go up from 11$ to 18$ even with this super solar system.

Squirrel bird on feeder

Were we really desperate? Isn’t that exactly how we were acting? Here is what I wrote back to our advisers: The first documents said we would save $81, xxx thousand, now it's below $70, xxx. I am a senior citizen. I would want to visit my family (two sons and a daughter with 4 grandchildren) spread across the US, and take more vacations with my wife while I still can enjoy nature hikes.These are personal decisions that are not based on desperation (I do not "desperately" need to change my electric box) but solid planning, clear information, and love of life. Building a castle for others to enjoy has never been my goal, it is to live fully in the present. Until I fully understand the benefits I will leave my modest savings working for me and my wife for our golden years. Who knows what advances in solar are to come next year? I appreciate your interest in selling us a system that will make better use of our electric power than pay the DWP for electricity made from sources other than our magnificent sun.

Squirrel in tree

In the mail arrived a "neighbor to neighbor" promotion pamphlet that included two roofers with a 5 % discount. Both roofers mentioned they could prepare a roof for solar. I called the first one who said right away, “Do not roof over an existing roof if you are putting solar panels on.” He explained from his years of experience he would never advise anyone to do that. I thanked him and said we weren’t interested. I called the other roofer who was from a foreign country, looked energetic in his photo, and had many glowing comments about his workmanship, diligence, and expertise. He came to our house, spent an hour measuring, walking the roof, looking at our aerial photos, and impressed us as an expert in every way. He counseled against roofing over an existing old roof if we were planning a solar project as did the man we rejected on the phone. The next day he sent us a written proposal for the roof that included areas the solar company did not address. We began to see confusion and doubt where we were almost certain we had been led.

Squirrel Barkley

Meanwhile my reliable pool man of many years chimed in that he would not allow a variable pump for our pool and gave us practical reasons like the pool sweep and skimmer won’t be effective and the pool will look shabby in a week. He said if we want to improve our pool, we should get a new heater and possibly a pump but have the gardeners clean all vines off the walls of the interior block wall around the pool equipment each week. Also we found out the best time to use electric power for things like pool pumps, washing clothes, etc., is before 10 AM for the lowest DWP rate! We immediately changed our pool sweep to run from 6 AM to 10 AM and began to see how this problem needed solving by gathering all the information on each project in a notebook so we are prepared before we sign any contract—a message I learned as a trial lawyer long ago regarding my cases and how to approach each.

Squirrel Ginger

I called my financial adviser who specializes in green investments assured that he had to know solar contractors in the area. Soon I had a solar expert at my home to discuss all that had transpired and tried to help us sort out this puzzle. He approached the problem as a teacher would a new student without being pretentious. He broke down each concept scientifically. All we are creating by solar is electricity. Do you need a Rolls Royce on your roof to produce it effectively, or can you use a Prius or maybe a Volkswagen? He explained we should calculate the kilowatts per hour of each solar system to learn what our costs are. The first plan we had been shown was about $5.5 per kilowatt hour and his proposal would produce the same amount of electricity for $4.5 per kilowatt hour! All of his panels were warrantied for 25 years also and came from a foreign country nearby--considered Tier 1 quality--not a Rolls, but a Prius. He explained his panels used a micro inverter that converted DC electricity to AC on each panel independently whereas the Rolls panels required two large inverter boxes next to our fuse box, and their panels were “in string” that meant if one of five panels in line had shade all five would cease working! Instead of two large inverter boxes we would have one micro-inverter box about the size of a hardback book! He said we did not need a 50 year roof, but the 30 year ones are getting so much better if we wait a short while they will have one that fits the LA Building and Safety requirement of Title 24 that all new roofs must be “cool roofs.” While the 50 year expensive roof did meet this requirement, it was far more expensive. Finally, he said one solar company that lumped roofing projects with solar panels to reduce the costs for consumers was under investigation by the IRS. We did not want to be exposed to that insecurity.

Squirrel at sunset

The next problem was the color of our roof on the former garage, now an entertainment room, roofed four years ago, did not match any approved cool roofs in the brochures. Our referred solar contractor gave us three roofing referrals who agreed to come to our house, provide their estimates, and discuss options. He had worked with each of them. Meanwhile in a discussion with our family member who had solar from the Rolls company we learned an inverter box on his house burned out and he had to have the solar company come and repair it. They were lucky the house didn’t burn down! He found out that the building company that put on the roof used their own installers to save money rather than the solar company reps! A classic case of penny wise and pound foolish. This was an example of the reason why having DC power coming off your roof to a couple of inverter boxes poses a danger not like the AC current from the micro inverter box.

Squirrel tree

Each of the three roofing referrals, like all the competent specialists we had met, were knowledgeable, courteous, and diligent. They loved our house and said they would finish the project in 2 or 3 days at most. Our new solar contractor said he would include the fuse box in his low price unless some unforeseen expense was incurred that might cost and additional 1K. Each of the roofers said removing a roof was a one day job about worth 1K. A few also would replace the rotten roof over on the two sheds on either side of our house that were not included in our original quotes from the expensive solar roofing company.

Squirrel garden below

My wife and I had a very short time to reflect on the solar and roofing issues, but were slowly informed by a host of knowledgeable experts how we could make an intelligent decision once we understood all the details we had not learned nor had enough information to question the first experts. We grew to appreciate each  professional as they offered solutions that gave many choices and each were right for some people. However, by continuing the investigative process and keeping an open mind, we learned what solution fit our budget, and needs.

Squirrel Patio chair and bird feeder

Many consider curb appeal a critical feature of up-grading their roof. In our case, one cannot see our roof from the street. Therefore we really did not have to match the roof exactly where the older roof has darker shingles than those offered for the portion where the solar panels will rest. By taking our time in this decision one roofer said we used the best option as companies adjust to Title 24 in LA and will soon have a 30 year roof that will at least blend with ours and allow us to proceed. We could not have possibly known where this journey would have taken without having each player educate us carefully with the best information they had. Our referral from our green investment adviser opened a door of understanding our best solution. We hope this will help others who show an interest in solar panels and new roofs.

Squirrel sundial and water bath for birds



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From a Military Pawn to Pursuit of Justice


(Dan a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland)

From a pawn in the military to law school and becoming a legal aid attorney started my recreated journey. Soon I became a staff attorney for Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers Union (AFL-CIO).

Cesar Chavez and dogs Huelga and Boycott

(Cesar Chavez with his dogs, Boycott and Huelga)

Later the ACLU of Southern California selected me as Director of the ACLU Farm Worker Project in Los Angeles. I submerged myself into the cutting edge of civil rights and consumer litigation with all my energy.

Dan hired by ACLU for farmworker project in Los Angeles 1974

Dan, Joan, and Aleksey at the Gallo March during the Boycott

Dan, Joan, and Aleksey at the Gallo March during the Boycott

(Top) Dan Hired by The ACLU as Director of the Farm Worker Project.

Meanwhile, Joan and I raised a family that fulfilled my vision coupled with my quickly learned advocacy skills that enabled me to continue a profession on a path others said would be impossible—it was one few traveled—but I met enough dedicated individuals whose life shined that I knew it was right for me.

Dan and Joan with Shiva in Berkeley

(Dan, Shiva, and Joan)

I completed litigation for the UFW when we resolved pending cases and The Agricultural Labor Relations Act created a board that resolved farm worker labor disputes and decided to launch my own civil rights practice. At the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission I researched cases where the charging party needed counsel and selected those that appeared meritorious. Meanwhile, The San Fernando Valley Law School selected me as their Constitutional Law professor. At the Federal Court of Appeals, I represented indigent appellants from criminal convictions. Many EEOC cases settled, kept employees from losing jobs, or from other types of discrimination, and compensated the client and me.


(Dan at his Encino Civil Rights Office)

A union client came to my office complaining that he had been defamed and terminated from General Telephone Company. A judge dismissed his case in an order that held an employer had a qualified privilege to slander an employee for internal communications. My appeal was successful in Kelly v. General Telephone, (1982) 136 Cal. App. 3d 278, 186 Cal. Rptr. 184, and established a precedent on pleading a slander case, qualified privilege, and negligent infliction of an employee’s emotional distress that also allowed punitive damages. A large jury verdict the next year established justice for my client,  trial expertise, and unforeseen success. Dan Reading poem at Onion Fall Poetry Festival 11102013

(Dan reading from his memoir at Crown Books in Woodland Hills)

Recovering from each fiasco in my life and having learned a lesson each time, I defined a vision of what might occupy the rest of my life: a pursuit of social justice in whatever way I could find appropriate. The pieces fell together through hard work, determination, and a future with a woman who inspired me and calmed my wildness from swirling rapids to a deep river that refreshed and enabled me to continue against all odds.  Once I found a path that consumed me with passion I aimed as high as I could. No matter what confronts the reader, my story demonstrates an ordinary person can survive major conflicts, disappointments, injuries, risk of death, and still flourish. And if one's life contains advice to others struggling to find themselves after many mistakes,  studying creative writing under poets, authors, and professors and publishing a memoir offers an opportunity to share that vision with gratitude.


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