A little departure from my normal blog posts today.

Yesterday, “Uncle Bum,” one of my favorite people in the entire world, passed away.  I guess technically, he lost a battle with cancer but, quite honestly, he battled that SOB for all it was worth… 14 years.

Growing up, our families lived over 900 miles apart but, for some reason, I/we felt very close to him, my aunt and my cousins.  And that was WITHOUT the internet.

We’d see each other once a year… he’d bring his family to Pittsburgh for a 2-week visit some years..Kennywood, chipped ham sandwiches, hot sausage and late night card games and my parents would take us south to visit his family on alternate years… Florida… the “big vacation” …swimming every day, Disney, Ronny’s Ice Cream, Rossi’s Pizza and the same late night card games.  Those were some of the most exciting weeks of my childhood summers.

In my adult life, when traveling with friends and, eventually my own family, we were always welcomed with open arms to stay in his home, swim in his pool or simply use his house as a staging area for our trips to the “Mouse House” and Universal.

I definitely got part of my sense of humor from him… especially the sarcasm. In my adult life, a few relatives have told me that I remind them of him.  For me, I couldn’t be more honored.  But he would probably roll his eyes at that and think, “What the hell did I do to deserve THAT?”

As fun and funny of a person as he was, he could also be just as strict when we were growing up.  He was the kind of guy that would give you whatever help you needed but would also give you enough rope to hang yourself so that you could learn from a mistake.

We’ve had a few running gags over the years, including a few years of sending each other beers.  He collected beer cans. When I used to travel, I would find the crappiest local brew and send him a couple of cans…one to taste and one to display.

At some point, I started signing all of my emails/cards to him as, “Your Favorite Nephew.” He didn’t make that designation. I simply assumed the title and, more than likely, he would read that and give a “oh you THINK so?” face.  The good news is, I was the ONLY nephew named John, so I new I was AT LEAST his favorite nephew named John!

Many years ago, I started a tradition of sending out a silly family Christmas card.  On one of our visits to his house, I realized he had saved all of the cards.  He even had the first few, that even I didn’t have copies of.  (See… I KNEW I was his favorite!)

So many stories to tell about “Uncle Bum” but, he’d probably be look at this and say, “You want me to sit here read all of this??  You’d better get me another beer!”  Plus, it’s 3:31am.  This damned dog is gonna want to eat at his normal time of 6:30am.  I wish he had a snooze button on his head.

So, thanks to all of you for indulging me in remembering my “Uncle Bum.”  A great guy… I am thankful to have had him in mine and my kids’ lives so long and even more thankful for the memories he has given all of us.

Rest in peace Uncle Bum… tell those people in Heaven to keep the beer cold and to hold the green peppers!

And, by the way, I’m more and more like you every day!  I spent a ton of time going through a half-dozen jump drives, CDs, my Drop Box account and two different laptops saying, “I know I have a photo of him SOMWHERE on one of these damned things!” as I was looking for a picture of you to post on here!


Your Favorite Nephew (named John) and His Kids


  1. Carson here, “Uncle Bum’s” grandson, though I knew him as “Badpap”. I feel like this is a good place for us all to speak, so I guess I can say a few words on here. I couldn’t agree more with what you said John, he was my best friend for 16 years running, and still is, because I know he’s with me. Plenty of fond memories with him, like him always taking us on trips to the most interesting museums and places on the eastern side of the U.S., and whenever we asked where, his response of “wherever the front of the car’s going!” He would play Stratego with me whenever I wanted, even though I’m pretty sure he always let me win haha. He was the first to teach me how to shoot, with an old bolt action pellet rifle and a target in the backyard. But I couldn’t agree more, he taught me so much, and I still wasn’t finished learning from him. Whether it have been in a late night talk, or if he DID give me enough rope and I hung myself anyway, I learned a lot from him. He always pushed me to excel, grades, ROTC, Young Marines, what have you, he always wanted the best for me, and I loved that about him. I suppose I’ll share my most fond memory, however, of which I have two. The first, as you all know, he IS a Marine (that title is never revoked), and when I received a meritorious promotion to PFC in Young Marines, we both cried while he pinned my chevrons on my uniform, a time honored tradition in the military (and no, thankfully, he didn’t give me blood ranks! haha). The other, he took a full day of his time to teach me his style of driving as we went to the reserve centers and recruiting offices, and lead me to plan out my military career that I am sticking to today. A lot of good in me began with him, and I’m proud to be his grandson. For all of you mourning his loss, I have one thing to say to you… In the third verse of the Marine Corps hymn, the lines read
    “If the Army and the Navy,
    Ever look on heaven’s scenes,
    They will find the streets are guarded,
    By United States Marines”
    We all know another Marine is on guard up there, and it’ll be a long time without him, but I know I can’t wait til I can tell him all about it when I see him again, and post guard with him once I do.

  2. We’ve come to know and love your family from Florida—-at the Stroll Inn. Uncle Bum always tried to wrestle the check from you…every time he visited. Sometimes..even being so clever as to call before everyone showed up!! This truly is sad news. He will certainly be missed. Our sincere condolences to you and your family. RIP, Uncle Bum.

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