My Uncle Piney died today, age 90. He was an inspiration to me. He was a three-time Ohio high school football all-star, battled Lou Groza for four years on the line of scrimmage, and as a Marine in the 6th Marines regiment, stormed the beaches of Tarawa, one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific War. He still had shrapnel in his knee when I visited him and my Aunt Betsy a month ago.
His real name was Robert Fitch, from the coal-mining country of Southeast Ohio, but he got the nickname "Piney" because as a kid he used to hitch a ride to work on a junkyard truck labeled "Piney's". I was probably the last person in the world who still called him Piney, because even his wife used his given name.
He was one of the last of a special breed.
I will miss him greatly.