My Uncle Danny would've turned 60 yesterday, Feb. 9, but he died in 1998 at the age of 49.
He was with the Allen County Sheriff's department 27 years, and he died from a heart attack after he chased and apprehended a troublemaker at a concert at the Memorial Coliseum. You can read about his last arrest and the events leading to his death here and here.
I remember getting a call from my mom the next morning, informing me that Uncle Danny had died. It was one of those numbing experiences.
For most of my years, Uncle Danny and Aunt Tonne had lived in a house with an in-ground pool, and they hosted many family get-togethers at their house, especially during the summer. The pool was well-used, and Uncle Danny, or "Shamu," as we called him, kept things lively.
Of course he had his own nicknames for all of us, too. Sara was "Sara Mae Fikes," my dad was "Roof-roof," my mom was "Tierney Ann with the shaky hand," my brother and I were both "Leroy," and his grandson as well as my son and Jeff's sons were all "Destructo Willy."
My uncle had a gruff exterior, but he was really a teddy bear. He and Aunt Tonne practiced wonderful hospitality and were extremely generous. Some people dread family get-togethers, but I never did, and Uncle Danny was one of the reasons why.
He died shortly after Caty's first birthday, and Andrew was only 3. I miss him. I can only imagine how much my aunt and cousins--his wife and daughters--miss him.