In Memory of My Father

One year ago today, December 5, 2005, Sanford Watzman, my father died just three days short of his 85th birthday. He was an active man, who loved his golf and his cards, took good care of my mother, and us three children. For most of his working life, he owned a men’s clothing store called Watzman’s Mens Fashions in Wellsburg, West Virginia, where he was well known and liked in this northern West Virginia community. He knew most of the people who walked through his doors, and during the years I worked there with him, certainly taught me a thing or two about the right way to treat people.

My Dad grew up in Warwood, West Virginia, just north of Wheeling, the middle of three boys born to his Russian immigrant parents, Max and Yetta Watzman. He served in the US Army Signal Corps in the Pacific during World War II, apparently enlisting soon after his 21st birthday, which was the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.

My father actively supported the creation of the National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. It was a highlight of his life to be in Washington for the Dedication on May 29, 2004. I was privileged to travel with him and my mother and watch him and thousands of other World War II veterans finally receive the applause of a nation for a job well done.

The pictures below highlight that journey.

Dad and Mom at the World War II Memorial

Dad at the World War II Memorial Dedication

Back in September of 2004, my father sat down at the computer and wrote a few pages of memoirs about his service during World War II. His story, like those of many other veterans, supplements much of the story we read in our history books. It is truly more personal, seen through the eyes actually there, rather than through the words of our historians.

Over the next few days, I shall post excerpts from that story, written in his unedited words. I’d like to close this post, written with his fond memory in mind, with the last paragraph from his story.

With all my army travels and experiences I was awarded the following ribbons: 5 battle stars, 2 invasions, army of occupation, good conduct medal, sharp shooting medal. Not bad for a little West Virginia boy.

Sanford Watzman T/SGT.
230th Signal Operations Co.

APO #502

San Francisco, Calif.

Not bad at all, Dad!


4 responses to “In Memory of My Father

  1. Although I nver knew about the medals and awards, I am not surprised, because your Dad was a wonderful man. I have many happy memories of the many times we were together. The last time we were together in October of 2005 we had lunch at the country club; then he drove me all around the golf course in a golf cart to see the beautiful autumn leaves and the well- maintained golf course. After that we visited the cemetary to revisit all the graves of so many of our relatives. On that day I never thought that he would be next to go. We all miss him.

  2. He sounds like he was a wonderful person. It should be interesting to read his words.

  3. Pingback: Veteran’s Day « Notes From Neal

  4. Sanford (Whitey) Watzman

    Neal: I’m your father’s namesake, and there’s a story about that which he may or may not have mentioned. But first, my condolences on his death. He was certainly a very nice guy–a mensch. And your mother, or maybe your sister, is June, which makes one of them my wife’s namesake.

    I’d never in my life expected to meet an exact namesake, esp. with that name, though I did pal around in elementary school with a kid named Sanford Wasserman.

    The way I knew about your dad is that, while I was working at the State Dept. in D.C., I became aware that some stuff in my personnel file wasn’t about me; it was about your dad. It was the Army stuff. I was an infantryman but the guy I was reading about in my file was in the Signal Corps. The files somehow got mixed.

    When I established that your dad was living in Steubenville, we drove there to meet him and your mom made a wonderful breakfast for us, which I’ll never forget.

    I grew up in Cleveland. I now live in Denver. I hope your mom is doing well.

    S.W. (nickname Whitey)

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