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The most successful man in the world

I'm about to celebrate my 16th Father's Day without the star of the show.

(No disrespect to my husband – who's a wonderful father – but he's not my father, you know?)

My dad was Carl Bunge, born and raised on a farm about 40 miles northwest of Davenport.

Dad was a farm boy, but he was also the oldest of four sons. That meant his father didn't need him to stay on the farm, so Dad headed for the bright lights of the big city (Davenport) and married himself a big city girl.

Anyone who knew my Dad could tell you what a great guy he was. He worked hard for Jaydon Inc., a non-food distributor located in Milan. He left the house early in the morning and came home late at night after delivering health and beauty products throughout the Quad Cities area.

One of the highlights of my summers when I was probably about 10 or 12 was going with my dad on his route one day. I'd help straighten the shelves – something I still do in grocery stores to this day! – and then stack the new merchandise. I remember he'd buy a quart of chocolate milk at the first store, and we'd take turns sipping from the carton between us.

I wasn't much of an athlete, but Dad tried his best. I played Dad's Club softball for a couple of years, and Dad, who never had a son, patiently showed me how to throw and bat and catch.

Dad was a simple man with simple pleasures. He loved his God and his family and his Cubbies, not necessarily in that order all the time. He wasn't much of a reader, but one of his prized possessions was a copy of "Mr. Cub," Ernie Banks' autobiography.

He was a faithful church-goer, serving on church boards and singing in the choir. He even sang with me at my church, St. John's in Peru, and our minister graciously offered him his own set of offering envelopes.

And his family was everything to him. He loved his wife and two daughters, and he was happy to expand that love to his two sons-in-law.

And to his grandchildren.

One of my most cherished photos wouldn't win any photography awards. The flash didn't go off, and the picture is mostly dark. But it's a photo of my dad holding my first-born, and I treasure it.

Dad only got to meet six of his grandchildren. The seventh – his namesake Carly – was born almost a month after Dad died.

Dad's legacy lives on in big and small ways. The eternal Cubs' fan's cry of "There's always next year!" lives on in several of his grandchildren, and his set of lawn darts – the old fashioned ones with the points that could put out an eye – are a cherished inheritance my children argue about.

Many years before he died, I gave Dad a plaque with the Robert Louis Stevenson poem, "That Man is a Success." It summed up my father far better than I ever could.Dad indeed "lived well, laughed often and loved much" and left the world a far better place than he found it.

Thanks for everything, Dad.

Barb Kromphardt is a staff writer for the BCR and the managing editor for the Tonica News and Putnam County Record. She can be reached at bkromphardt@bcrnews.com or bkromphardt@tonicanews.com.

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