I would like you to know my dad the way I knew him. My dad had many challenges in his life from losing his father when he was a baby, to business and physical challenges.
But he always believed that in football and life you never give up.
Because my dad could fix anything.
My mom goes through obstacles, my dad went around them. Nothing stopped him. He just went to his toolbox, literally or figuratively, got his blade and electrical tape, and figured out how to overcome the challenge.
There was nothing he couldn’t make better.
One time we had one of our horses with a trainer. We wanted to take our horse home, and the trainer didn’t want us to take him. So he trainer put a padlock on the stall door.
That couldn’t stop my dad. He calmly went and got his toolbox. A screwdriver and an unhinged door later, we simply took our horse home.
He figured out how to adapt a horse trailer for a claustrophobic horse, how to get an Akron VIP to return his call (said he was the mayor!), and how to heat a home made cat box.
My dad could fix anything.
My dad gave me many gifts. Of all the gifts he gave me, these are the three I will have forever.
#1 The first gift he gave me was my greatest loves.
My greatest loves have been four legged. Without my dad’s sacrifice, selflessness, and support-I never would have had the loves that changed my life and defined me.
Electric Impulse+ was a great white costume horse, Without Impi, less dreams would have been fulfilled. Without my dad, there would have been no Impi. Without his belief in Impi and me, there would have been no championships.
My dad helped make our home an animal refuge for my four legged loves.
Some of the Ungar animals:
Dad and Gigi – his nemisis
Dad and Too-Too
Dad and Chester
Dad and Sonny
Dad and Stormi
Dad and Starfire
Dad and King
Dad and Goddess
Dad and . . .
#2 The second gift he gave me was passion.
He gave me passion for his OSU Buckeyes, for winning, for this country, and everything in-between.
Never give up, a true champion comes from behind, and you never get anywhere playing it safe, are three lessons I learned about football and life watching OSU games with my dad.
As a teenager, my dad and I were taking our two dogs to obedience school. It was the middle of winter and we had to practice outside in the cold in-between classes. One night I told my dad I didn’t want to practice. Fine he said. He and his dog would just be better than me in next week’s class. Out into the freezing cold I went because if I was going to go to class, I needed to do it with passion.
He served proudly in WWII. We could, and did, disagree over Vietnam and every political issue. That was OK as long as you had passion.
One time, I said I was tired of working so hard with the horses. Maybe I would just hover at the same level. “Leslie” he would say, “you can get better or worse but you can’t stay the same”. You have to have passion.
Newspaper editors all over the country may be breathing a sigh of relief. For fifty years, whenever he had something to say, he sent a letter to the editor or elected officials, or both! Because he had passion.
#3 The third gift he gave me was memories.
I have enough memories to fill a lifetime, but not to last one.
I have pictures everywhere. I have hundreds of pictures; thousands of hours of horse show classes that he taped. When I tried to find a good picture of him, I was stunned by how few I had. Then I realized why. He was always behind the scenes fixing.
While he is not in many pictures, he gave me so many memories. Jumping up and down when I won my first blue ribbon. Jumping up and down when I won my last one. Sleeping on the beach as a duck made a bee line for his chest hair, Swearing at all of our luggage on family vacations as he packed the Buick.
Dad you taught us how to love, but we didn’t want to learn how to let go. My dad could fix anything. With a handkerchief in his pocket and a blade in his hand, my dad could fix anything.
Except the hole in our heart.