|My father and I when he was taller than me|
I had originally planned on writing this last week when my father passed away after a two and a half year battle with Alzheimer’s. I’ve rewritten this several times and hope, that if nothing else, you will get a glimpse of not only how awesome my father was, but also how fortunate that I was to have had him.
My father Stanley Blitz truly was a special and unique person.
He could draw people in, like no one else. He was kind and charitable; sweet and funny. He loved his family and friends and liked nothing more than be surrounded by them, spreading his charm and kindness.
As I noted in his eulogy, one of my father’s most admirable and remarkable traits is that I never heard him say an ill word about anyone. Both in his business and his personal life, he never took any disappointment or frustration as a personal attack.
My dad grew up at a time when the world was much smaller. Visits to family in New York usually meant spending time with their neighbors and their cousin, Milton Berle.
Years later in Chicago, my father worked as Playboy Magazine‘s first advertising manager.
Among the folks that he rubbed elbows with at the time were Bettie Page, Shel Silverstein, Jack Cole and Hef, himself.
|Prettier than Hefner, Silverstein and Cole.|
My father joked that he and Hefner stopped getting along when Hef didn’t use my dad’s idea for using state birds as the centerfold. Apparently Hefner thought that naked women sell better.
He was probably right.
He was a salesman, selling televisions directly to retailers.
There, he worked with George McFarland.
As a child, McFarland was a bit of a movie star.
He went by the nickname of Spanky.
My father was also a talented artist, studying at both the Boston Museum School and Massachusetts Art College.
While he often dismissed my interest in pursuing comics, in retrospect I think it came from his own disappointment.
He met with Al Capp and spoke with him regarding an opportunity to be his assistant, but unfortunately, Capp wasn’t looking for one. My father recalled to me on several occasions that Capp ran into him several years later and remembering him, Capp introduced him to his friends as an “incredibly talented artist.”
I have no reason to doubt this story for the single reason that my dad was never one who tried to impress anyone or twist the truth to make himself look better.
Capp won the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Award in 1947 for Cartoonist of the Year for his work on his comic strip Li’l Abner.
My father created the previously unseen comic strip, Jack Jockstrap.
From the time I was a young kid, I loved comics and I drew.
Those two factors combined with my dad’s first name, created quite a reaction from my comic-loving elementary school friends, who naturally assumed that “Stanley” was in fact, “Stan Lee.”
It’s nearly impossible to encapsulate or articulate how my dad influenced virtually every aspect of my life. He loved his family unconditionally, struggled losing two children and lived his life by two mantras: Don’t worry about things you can’t change and Do for people because you want to, not because you expect anything in return.
My father’s legacy is a challenge to live up to. He faced life’s challenges with a smile and was the smartest man I ever knew.
This morning, my father will have been gone for two weeks.
The loss of him is still incredibly surreal and my heart still feels heavy. If I can be half the man my father was, I’ll be a success.
Dad, I miss you and love you.