Time's Arrow and Our Legacy
This is going to be a stream of consciousness post so if things are a little cloudy, I do apologize.
I am sorry that I have been absent for the last ten days, my life has been a whirlwind of emotion and I want to share a bit with you! I have run the more sensitive parts by my wife as a sign of respect for the family - and her opinion on what I am sharing was summed up in a gentle reminder that when our time is up - all we have is our legacy.
The legacy of this man called "Papa Jack" by his family was seen in the lives of the "Stringer" clan - the family that I married into. I have not been through a funeral where the life of the departed impacted me on such a level - and I thought this event was time for me to be a rock for my wife. While I worked to be that for her - being on the outside I realized that this man's legacy had in fact impacted where I am today and surprisingly where I hope to be.
So first of all, I want you to know that I am sharing from my perspective - there are impacts of this man that I wasn't privy to based on the connection that I have with the different people I met or talked with over these last ten days and there were so many.
First and foremost Papa Jack and his wife Nancy had five kids. These five kids have had 15 children and when you add spouses for the children and two for the grandkids (I am one of these) - you can imagine how congested the house felt. Even with the random arguments that can arise at high-level emotional family gatherings I never got the feeling that there wasn't love in the house. The first few days were more solemn, individuals processing their emotions and the general processes that follow a death. After the wake though the house was filled with laughter and stories about Papa Jack.
As to who this man, Papa Jack, is to me - on the surface, I had really only met him a couple times on a visit to Orlando. My wife adored this man and she wanted me to meet him, of which I am glad I did. When we met we talked about college football and I talked a bit about what I am doing here (Game design/publishing). The conversation honestly doesn't stick out too much to my memory. Who he was, stands out to me more than anything. He seemed to genuinely listen to me when I talked and he was very direct with his opinions. he didn't seem like someone to sugarcoat his thoughts. He was definitely in an old body - but his energy demanded respect. This was a man who worked hard and built something - and he knew it. Not in an unhealthy prideful way - but the pride we should all have when we see that we have seen a dream of ours become reality.
To this day one of the kindest things that has ever been spoken over me happened at my wedding. First, understand that the relationships between father and son are historically precarious in nature. Myself - I respect the hell out my father and I grow closer to him as time moves forward. Even then it (as all relationships) isn't perfect. You want to be like your father and yet you don't. When I met my now father-in-law I could clearly see that he too respected the hell out of his father. So much so, that he chose the path of an entrepreneur. He is very successful at what he does and I immediately respected what he created and try to learn anything I can when I get the time.
So, at my wedding (as is a pretty common tradition) the father of the bride gives a speech about his daughter and talks about their partner. When he talked about me, I was honestly floored as he talked about the similarities he saw between his father and myself. The fullness of those statements in such a happy moment became the most real in such a sad moment. If I can look back at my life and see half of what Papa Jack developed then I will count myself as a very lucky man.
Papa Jack's legacy created a pathway for someone like me to look at a beautiful woman on our first date and say that I was going to give up the white collar, 9-5 office lifestyle and pursue my dreams of creating games and have her not immediately leave. His legacy carved out conversations with a man from a slightly older generation who could respect my dreams of entrepreneurship even if that meant his daughter was quickly going to become the breadwinner for a family - when I looked at my now father-in-law in the eyes and told him that I wasn't asking for his permission to marry his daughter but we wanted his support because his daughter loved him... that love and respect is the same kind that Papa Jack's kids had to him.
So what does this have to do with game design? Very good question - it has nothing to do with game design and yet it has everything to do with game design for me. What am I doing with my days and how does it go towards my goals? What am I building up? What will my creations speak out to those around me? Will I develop a family built on love? Will I instill that drive in my family and friends? Will my funeral be filled with people who consider their lives better for knowing me? I hope so. I hope that my posts, my games, my stories, and my general being gives more and takes less.
I will be adding some backlogged posts and sharing them via social media. I will be uploading some videos soon and new pictures of my game! I don't want to lose what I have learned from the last ten days and I hope this diary post encourages you and I to be a little more like Papa Jack and just build.
Jess “Jack” Luter Stringer passed away peacefully early Thursday morning March 15th surrounded by Nancy, his beloved wife of sixty years and his five children.
Born on January 6, 1936, in Miami Florida, Jack was a graduate of Miami Edison High School and obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from the University of Florida in 1958.
His professional career spanned some fifty years including ownership of the Rexall Drug Store on Park Avenue where he was well known “on the avenue”. He loved Winter Park and opened one of the first lunch counter restaurants appropriately named Happy Jack’s Sandwich Shack. A successful businessman, he led one of the first pharmacy benefit management models for Prudential as CEO of Integrated Pharmacy Solutions.
Jack was a compassionate and generous man with a strong wit and his greatest joys were his family and grandchildren. Saturday evenings at the “Stringer Ranch” were some of his favorite times, grilling, sharing commentary about the recent book he read or discussing college football. Jack and Nancy shared their time and talent for many years at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, acting as team leaders for Marriage Encounter, Cursillo and youth retreats. He was loved and admired by so many and cherished his many long-time friendships within this parish family.
He is survived by his wife, Nancy Morse Stringer, his children Douglas (Ann) of The Hague, Netherlands, Donald of Vancouver, WA, Jacki Bussey (Ben) of Jupiter, FL, Mary McNerney (Kevin) of Columbia, SC and Beth Tiernan (Chris) of Valrico, FL, his sister Shirley Jennings of San Diego and his 15 grandchildren, to whom he was affectionately known as “Papa Jack”.
The family will receive friends Monday evening at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Winter Park at 7 pm with a prayer service at 7:30 pm. A funeral Mass officiated by the Rev. Richard Walsh, will be celebrated at St. Margaret Mary at 11 am on Tuesday, March 20th.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Jack’s honor to the St. Margaret Mary Church Haiti Mission.