‘My father answered the call’

'My father answered the call' Editor's note: Kelly Radigan, son of Mayor William Radigan, shared these comments about his father at his funeral.

"The older I get, and the more I learn, the more I come to realize how much I don't know. However, I do know a few things, and one of them concerns callings.

"It seems to me that many men and women receive a calling of one sort or another, but only a few choose to act on that calling.

"When my father was still in high school, his own father was sick in bed, deathly ill. When he called for help, my father answered the call. After my grandfather died, my father married his high school sweetheart. Soon, his country called for men to fight a war, and my father answered the call.

"Once the war had ended, he returned home and had three daughters and eight sons. On occasion, one or the other needed help, and called, and my father answered the call.

"I made a mistake or two of my own, and I needed him, and my father answered the call. Sometimes, a war veteran needed help getting through the red tape and into the VA hospital, and turned to Dad for help. When he could, he cut through the red tape and the veteran was taken care of.

"Then a community needed a leader, and once again, my father answered the call. Through all of this, hundreds and thousands of times the siren sounded, or the phone rang in a certain way, or the fireman's radio came to life, and hundreds and thousands of times, my father answered the call.

"He spent his life helping those who deserved help, and fighting those who needed to be fought.

"Finally, sometime after he went to bed on Monday night, his God called, and my father answered the call. He went to sleep in this life, and woke up in the next.

"Those who knew Bill Radigan know that he took some mighty blows in the last 10 years. Every time that he was knocked down, he got back up.

"Eight years ago, my mother passed away, and I wrote something about the effect it had on my family. The last verse reads:

Her battle over, ours begun,

We'll live as well as we can.

Three sisters, eight brothers,

And a lonely, lonely man.

"As he had dealt with adversity all his life, so he dealt with that loneliness. With time on his hands, he put his heart and soul into working for the community he so loved.

"My father was one of those lucky few who found that his vocation was also his avocation. He did what he loved, and he loved what he did.

"I drove home to Sioux Falls last night with my oldest son, and he said something that struck a chord with me. He told me that he thought the only important thing in life was that when it came our time to go, that we had lived before we died.

"I think he was expressing Thoreau's reasoning for going to Walden Pond � that "I came to Walden because I wished to live deliberately, and not, when it came my turn to die, discover that I had not lived."

"My father lived his life. He lived it to the fullest because he lived it for others. He was a seemingly simple man who lived by one basic principle: Bill Radigan simply did what he thought was the right thing to do.

"He did it for three-quarters of a century, and what an example he set for his children, his grandchildren, and his great-grandchildren. What an example he set for all of us.

"There are not words enough to express the impact of this man's life. How do you capture in a few sentences the effect of a lifetime? Especially one that touched so many others.

"If the measure of success in a lifetime is whether or not even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, then my father was a successful man beyond measure.

"Ironically, if you had asked him about who benefited from his endeavors, the finger he pointed would not be towards those he helped or the projects he pursued, the finger would point back at himself.

"He considered himself blessed by the presence of others. I believe that his family and friends are also blessed, for even though we haven't words enough to capture his life, we do have memories enough � memories that will stay with us always.

"Now it's time to say goodbye. It's time for my father to enjoy the company of his parents, his brother and sisters, his wife and his son. It's time for him to rest in peace, and for us to let go and say farewell � at least for a while.

"May God hold you in the hollow of his hand."

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