In Memory of Dad...
From October 10, 2022
Today, my dad would have been 97 years old.
My dad, Reardon Stanley, worked his way up from a file clerk at a military base in Pennsylvania to become one of the first black Senior Executive Service (SES) members in the government. He worked in both the Nixon and Carter administrations.
When given the opportunity to come to Washington in the mid 60’s, my dad opted to move his family into an all-white neighborhood in the west end of Montgomery County, Maryland, because of the great school system. My father valued education and he instilled the importance of learning and hard work in me and in my siblings.
The mortgage lenders asked him, “… wouldn’t you feel better living with your people?” and they did not lend him the money for the house. Instead, the seller financed part of the mortgage. I remember moving day, all the neighbors were standing outside to watch us move-in. As a kid, I wondered why are all the neighbors watching us? Funny, the things that you remember as a kid.
After a while, the neighbors realized that the Sullivans were NOT as what was portrayed on the 6 pm news. Soon, my older sister had baby-sitting gigs and my older brother was cutting everyone’s grass. My father understood people and knew that if people just talked with each other many of the stereotypes that where on the nightly news would go away. People are just people. Some better. Some worse. All flawed. But he knew that everyone should be judged by their actions and the content of their character, not the color of their skin, any more than they should be judged by the political letter next to their name.
One of the defining moments of my childhood happened when I was around 10 years old. I remember coming downstairs to get a drink and my dad was studying the Janes Weapons System manual at the kitchen table. It had to be 1 am. After working all day and spending time with his children, my dad was up prepping for his job to support his family. His work ethic was amazing.
My dad was blessed with the “gift of gab.” He was an amazing writer, could spell anything, and was outstanding in math. Dad was also involved in his children’s activities and even was involved with the early Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) in Rockville. Dad believed that God helps people who help themselves.
In his later years, my dad succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease. It was so sad to see a once-brilliant man regress into a three-minute tape loop about playing golf, eating ice cream, and McDonald’s cheeseburgers. Families with a loved one going through this disease process know what I am talking about. It is truly the long good-bye.
Reardon was a staunch Democrat. I wonder what he would think of his son being a Republican, and running for political office as the Republican candidate? What would he have thought about the political parties of today and the current stereotypes on both sides of the political aisle?
I do know that my dad believed in hard work, he wanted the best opportunities for his children, and that sometimes you have to step-up and challenge the status-quo. Dad would tell us that whatever you do, be the best that you can be, and do not let anyone tell you that you cannot do something or that you cannot win.
Happy Birthday, Dad!!!