TOTFA Stories

Jim Day

Dear Friends & Family, To all of Dad's email list buddies and friends:

This is a copy of Jack Driskill's email and an attached copy of the Eulogy that Jack gave at Dad's service on Friday. Once again thank you, Jack, for such a fine job. I'm sure Dad was very happy with the service. I am staying here at the house with Mom until Wed. To all of the folks that provided such wonderful email communications to Dad over the years, I want to thank you for keeping Dad so entertained. To those of you planning on attending the service at Arlington the details are below in Jack's letter.


Robert Donald Day (Bobby to most of you)

----- Original Message -----

Subject: Memorial Service for Jim Day

Co L-2 Classmates & Widows,

A memorial service for Colonel James Oliver Day, United States Army (Retired) was held in the main chapel of the Greenwood Funeral Home, Fort Worth, Texas, on November 14, 2003, beginning at 3:30 PM. Jim had prepared detailed arrangements for this service, his burial service at the Fort Myer Post Chapel as well as a detailed obituary some months ago.

I first saw his "plans" in late April of this year. We followed the memorial service plan in every detail, and I believe he would have given us a passing grade on the execution of his plan. Jim wanted "country style" music before and during the service. Before the service he wanted violin music, with no accompanist, played by Randy Elmore -- a "fiddling buddy" of long standing. Music played included: My Old Kentucky Home, a religious number There is a Fountain, The Kentucky Waltz, and Waltz Across Texas. Following the eulogy, Randy's wife Debby sang Precious Memories with Randy accompanying her on the guitar. Following the sermon, Randy played The Alma Mater on the violin.

I delivered a ten (10) minute eulogy honoring Jim during the service. I have attached the eulogy to this message since I believe it sets the "mood" of the service. I also included it as a reminder to all of my classmates that we need to follow Jim's example and get our affairs in order. His planning actually began in 1995 when Jim and Dorothy worked out the details of pre-planned funerals with the Greenwood Funeral Home. The Class of 1952 was well represented at the memorial service. Those attending were: John & Marianne BREWER, Jack & Mona DRISKILL, Jim GERHARDT, Carl & Lucy GUESS, David & Mariann LYON, Jeep & Dee ROLLSTON, Gil SCOTT, John SHY, Jim & Pam SPELL and Jim TOW. John SHY flew in from Michigan on the day of the service. John also plans to attend the burial service in Virginia. The burial service will be held at the Fort Myer Post Chapel beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday 10 December 2003, followed by internment in Arlington National Cemetery. Other details were provided by Bill Snyder in his "52-discuss" message on 11/13/2003. There may be others from the hinterlands who plan to attend the burial service, but right now it consists of John SHY, Jack & Mona DRISKILL and Pete & Dolly SELLECK. Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the Menefee County Public Library, Frenchburg, Kentucky 40322. Dorothy is doing well. She has been a 2nd grade school teacher for a number of years, and plans to continue doing that for the foreseeable future.

Jack Driskill

----- Eulogy -----

If I were here today to deliver a one sentence eulogy, it would be: Colonel James Oliver Day, United States Army Retired was a good man and lived a good life. That was an adequate summary, but there are many details about Jim's life that we need to remember and honor here today.

HE WAS: A good Christian,

HE WAS: A good Husband,

HE WAS: A good Father,

HE WAS: A good Soldier,

HE WAS: A great, not just a good, American--Truly a Patriot,

HE WAS: A good Democrat, as in Democratic Party,

HE WAS: A good Fiddler,

HE WAS: last but certainly not least, a good Friend to most of us here.

He was a good Christian. I believe, and I am sure there are many here who share my belief, that Jim is now with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He's probably up there looking down on us to make sure we are doing this service as he himself planned down to the last detail. In our youth, we practiced the religion that the authority figures in our life prescribed. I don't know what his parents in Mariba, Kentucky, prescribed, but I can personally attest to what the authorities at West Point prescribed while Jim was a cadet from 1948 until his graduation in 1952. Cadets could be of the Jewish faith, atheists, or agnostic;, but they had only two choices on Sunday--they could go to either the Protestant or the Catholic Chapel services. Either choice required their full dress uniforms. Jim and Dorothy were married in the Methodist Church in Temple TX in 1955. However, as his obituary indicates, in the early 1980's they changed to the Church of Christ. Jim and Dorothy are long time members of the Alta Mesa Church of Christ in Fort Worth.

He was a good Husband. Carl Guess, a classmate of Jim's from West Point, who is here today as an honorary pallbearer, introduced Dorothy and Jim. They were married in Temple, Texas, in March 1955. Jim and Dorothy took their marriage vows to heart and it was truly a marriage until death do us part. Over the events of this week, I have concluded that there can be no greater love that a husband can give his wife, than to plan his own funeral. Jim wrote every word of the obituary which ran in yesterday's morning papers. He wrote detailed procedures for this service and his burial service at Arlington National Cemetery. Jim's love and prior planning permitted Dorothy to complete the arrangements for this service less than 12 hours from the time of Jim's death. That ought to be food for thought for all of us here today.

He was a good Father. Jim and Dorothy had four children: two sons, Jimmy and Bob, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Carolyn. There are six grandchildren. Jim was very proud of his children and grandchildren. He took every opportunity to be with them and support them as they made their own way in life. He was particularly pleased that many of his children and grandchildren shared his love of music, particularly playing the fiddle.

He was a good Soldier. Jim was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant of Field Artillery in the Army following his graduation from West Point in 1952. He was sent "To The Sounds of the Guns" twice to Korea in 1953 and to Vietnam in 1965. In Korea he survived being a forward observer in the 92nd Armored Field Artillery Battalion. Those of you who have combat service will recall that being an artillery forward observer is not what one would call a low risk assignment. At the very end of the Korean Conflict in July 1953, Jim got to see more of the Chinese military than he wished. The Chinese were about to overrun his unit, when, without an apparent reason, they stopped. Jim didn't know why, but was pleased and thankful for their decision. Jim retired from the United States Army after 22 years of distinguished service in 1974.

He was a great American. He calls himself a very nationalistic American in his obituary. I'd call him a patriot. He believed strongly in the principles on which our country was founded, and would do battle with those who did not. He practiced those principles in everything he ever did. He was "red, white and blue" to the core. When his casket is opened later in the service, you will see that he chose to be buried in his Army Blue uniform in what is called a "Veteran's Casket."

He was a good Democrat. Career Army Officers tend to be conservative and Republican. Jim Day was a lifelong and strong Democrat. In discussions and debates over the internet in recent years, Jim took the Democratic side of the argument without fail, and he held his position tenaciously. Aside from my parents, I don't believe I've ever met a more devout Democrat. It was fun to see him counter, or ignore, the arguments which were offered against his position.

He was a good Fiddler. I think our graduation yearbook says it best, "Hey Jim, give us a tune." Thus commenced another session of plucking and tightening the strings of his ever-present fiddle. His first year at West Point did not afford Jim many chances to play his fiddle or make other individual expressions of any sort. But beginning in our second year, Jim "entertained" us at every opportunity. He and Gray Parks, his guitar accompanist, were perhaps the most recognized cadets in the Class of 1952. His love of the fiddle was a lifetime matter as you have already seen and heard in today's service. While living in Paris, Texas, after his retirement, he became a member and director in the Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association. In 1989, he was elected President, a position he enjoyed for six years. Jim and Dorothy made an extraordinary effort, assisted by his brother George and wife Pat, to attend Jim's 50th reunion of his graduation from West Point. Among the candid photos from that celebration was one with a caption which read "Gray Parks and Jim Day going country."

Jim was a good Friend. All of us here have many memories about Jim Day as our good friend. Time doesn't permit us to deal with that, but, for me, Jim Day was the kind of friend who would lay down his life for you.

Closing. I have taken longer than my allotted 7-8 minutes for this eulogy. I hope that Jim and those of you here today will forgive me. I felt that there was much about Jim which we needed to remember and honor. Jim and I come from a military culture which believes that when our work is done, our course on earth is run, may it be said, well done, be thou at peace.