This Tombstone Tuesday is the hardest I’ve written. Donald Charles Bishop was my dad. He married the great-great granddaughter of James Pickens Corel.
Donald Charles Fletcher was born to the youngest daughter of Clifford Romaine Fletcher and Margaret Edna Cowan on October 16, 1950 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. As a young child, he went to live with his Uncle Bill Fletcher and family in Miami, Florida. Don was the perfect addition to this family and when Bill tried to look into adopting Don, about the same time that Don’s mother married, she chose to have Don move back to Michigan, where he was adopted by his step-father, Jerry Thomas McFarlin.
At the age of 7, he was blessed with a half-sister, whom he loved dearly and spoke of often. When he was nearly 13, his half-brother was born. Don did not have many happy childhood memories that he shared with us. By 1970 Don entered the military, moved to Kansas, and legally changed his name to Bishop. Don had a second half-brother who was born after he moved to Kansas.
The following is a collection of the memories that were shared at Dad’s funeral.
A Celebration of Life for Don Bishop
October 16, 1950 – November 3, 2005
In the 1970’s, Don was kinda wild.
Don met Connie Laughlin at the apartment complex where they both lived. Connie asked the landlady to introduce them and her response was “Oh, no honey, you don’t want to meet him. He’s not your type.”
During the early years, the couple was young and foolish. Doing young and foolish things for that era. They married after knowing each other for only 3 months. Everyone said that it wouldn’t last. Well, it did… 35 years.
Don held several jobs during those younger years. He always managed to be employed. Some jobs were not that good and some didn’t pay that well, but he always brought in a paycheck.
By mid 1976, they had two girls that Don totally adored. He had a hard time showing affection in his early days. By him receiving affection from his new family and friends, he then learned how to give affection back. This took many, many years.
His form of discipline was “the look”. When dad got that look, the girls knew that he meant business.
Don never met a person that he didn’t like… except for a few of the boyfriends that came around. Once he became your friend, he was your friend for life. When Don and Connie married, he not only married Connie but her entire family. He was loved dearly by his extended family.
He was always willing to help whoever asked. Asking for nothing in return. He helped around the house doing laundry, dishes, vacuuming and anything Connie would ask, he would do. Yes, even windows. He was always right there helping the girls with school projects.
Don loved to party and he usually was the life of the party. Even though Connie would be mad and upset, that didn’t stop him any at all.
During these party times, he could be heard yelling “GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM!” after the movie with the same name. Or he would say, “I’ll drink to that!” YYYOOOOOOOOO was another favorite of his.
He was daring as well. He’d do anything that anyone suggested or mentioned, just to prove that he was a macho man. That included attempting an Evil Knevil motorcycle turn in front of Sonny and Alan. Hitting the wrong brake, the bike stopped and Don went flying over the handle bars on to the hood of the truck. Coming back to the house, he was bleeding and limping along. He made an ER visit that is still memorable to this day. This was one of many ER visits that Don made while visiting family in western Kansas.
At Christmas in 1972, the family received a Santa that sang “Jingle Bells.” As the girls grew older, he would take this Santa to their doorways and turn it on. Even as late as two years ago, he would have Connie call each of them and he would play that Santa. It became a family ritual.
He took pride in decorating the outside of his house. He would start decorating in November and would continue to add decorations throughout December. Many times these additional decorations would blow the breakers.
When Connie worked the 3-11 shift at the hospital while the girls were school age, he fixed them beanie-weenies. He added baking soda so that it wouldn’t be gassy for the girls. Not knowing exactly what baking soda did, the beanie-weenies were horrible. The girls remember that to this day and always laugh about his cooking abilities or I should say his cooking inabilities. He was dynamite with the grill though.
Don loved sports. During the ‘70s and ‘80s, he was a devoted Royals baseball fan. We attended many games since he lived in Kansas City. He would also watch all the games on TV or listen to them on the radio. When the Chiefs got started, he watched all of their games. His deepest love of sports was for the KU basketball. Don and Connie were able to attend all the home games in 2003. He loved every minute of those games. Their computer room is decorated with KU memorabilia, many that Don had picked out or that his girls had given him.
As time passed and the lottery and gambling became legal in Kansas and Missouri, his enjoyment turned to this. He loved to go to the boat and he would go every chance he got. When the power ball started, he picked his numbers that are still used to this day. Whenever Don and Connie went out of town, he always had to make sure that he had his picks for the time that they would be gone. When he was in the hospital, he would always make sure that either one of the girls or Connie would get his picks. He made Connie promise that she would continue to get his picks even after he was gone. For the first few years, she did continue to get the picks, but as the economy turned, and things began to get tight, she knew that he would understand.
When he became sick, it was very hard on him. He had to give up his job with KDOT. Losing the contact of his work buddies was very hard. He would often call and chit-chat about the projects they were doing. He wasn’t strong enough to drive to a site to visit. The inability to be functional and work was extremely hard on him. He even had difficulty doing the little “honey-do’s” that Connie left for him to do so that he just wouldn’t sit. Often these little jobs took all day, but he got them done. The last two weeks he was bothered by the fact that he could no longer do much to help her around the house. He was told not to worry about it, but he did.
Every time his son-in-laws would come over, he would have a list of stuff for them to do. Many of which wasn’t necessary or important. But, it was important to him and they obliged him.
Don and Connie adopted a 5 year old black lab, Cooper, to keep Don company. Cooper and Don would often drive up the road or to the grocery store so that Cooper could get her daily ride in.
When KU won the 1988 NCCA basketball tournament, her dad took his youngest daughter, Michelle, to Crown Center to get the champion tee-shirts. He even let her stay home from school to do this.
For the last couple of weeks Don was reminiscing about the times that he had to take on Paula’s boyfriends. He was protective of his girl.
His greatest thrill of all was being able to be here and see the birth of his first grandchild. He called her “his little angel”.
Now, at the age of 4, Abby refers to Don as “Mimi’s PawPaw” (Mimi being her word for her Grammy Connie). Abby knows that Mimi’s PawPaw is in heaven and that when she sees the stars, it means that he is watching her.
On behalf of the family, we wish to express
their gratitude for your many kindnesses
evidenced in thought and deed, and
for your attendance at this service.
God watched you as you suffered
And knew you’d had your share
He gently closed your weary eyes
And took you in His care
God has you in His keeping
We have you in our hearts
Your memory is our keepsake
With that we’ll never part
God saw you getting tired
And a cure was not to be
He put His arm around you
And whispered, “Come with Me.”
With tearful eyes we watched you
And saw you fade away
Although we loved you dearly
We could not make you stay
A golden heart stopped beating
Hard working hands now rest
God broke our hearts to prove to us
He only takes the best.
In Memory of
DONALD C. “DON” BISHOP
Date of Birth
October 16, 1950
Date of Death
November 3, 2005
1:00 p.m. Monday, Noevember 7, 2005
Angela Lowe, Chaplain
Oak Hill Cemetery
LAWRENCE JOURNAL WORLD
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Donald C. Bishop, 55, Lawrence, died Thursday, Nov. 3, 2005, at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Memorial services were held Monday at Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence. He will be inurned in Oak Hill Cemetery.
Mr. Bishop was born Oct. 16, 1950, in Detroit, Mich., the son of Jerry and Mary Ellen Fletcher McFarlin. He moved to Kansas in 1969, where he lived in the Kansas City and Lawrence areas. He was an engineer technician for the Kansas Dept. of Transportation from 1998 until the present. He formerly worked for the Lanter Trucking Co. in Edwardsville.
He married Connie Laughlin July 10, 1970, in Lawrence. She survives at the home. Also surviving are two daughters, Paula Hawk and Michelle Spiess, both of Edwardsville; his parents; two half-brothers, Michael McFarlin, Tempe, Ariz.; and Jerry McFarlin, Jr., Taylor, Mich.; half-sister, Susan Proto, Taunton, Mass.; and one grandchild, Abby Spiess.
The family suggests memorials to the Lawrence Memorial Hospital for the benefit of the Oncology Unit or the charity of the donor’s choice and may be sent in care of the Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th St., Lawrence, KS 66044-3402, (785) 843-1120.