It is amazing the number of decisions that one can make in their 94 years of life. The paths that you can choose. The joys and the heartbreaks. Near the end of the final trail, to be revered in a gathering that totaled five generations of family has to be the pinnacle of satisfaction.|
On October 17, 1919, Red began his journey in Simons, Kentucky, the son of Lewis and Winnie Southard. He had seven brothers and sisters: Herbert Southard, Elbert Southard, Tyne Chapman, Freeda Maddox, June Cassey, Jean Evans, and Elwanda Nelson. Although his grandfather and father were both coal miners, Conward chose a different path. He joined the U.S. Navy, and proudly served for 29.5 years.
During his career, Conward rose to the rank of CWO-4, Permanent. Frequently he spoke about how he was extremely honored to have served in the Navy. He was honored to also be listed as a "Plank Owner" of the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. He continued to donate to this memorial and other non-profits, for the rest of his life.
His personal entry into WWII was on December 8, 1941, when the USS Salt Lake City steamed into a decimated Pearl Harbor. He revealed over time, only bits and pieces of that which he experienced during the early days of war. The edited version was intense. He carried these memories and kept them to himself. He was proud to have been part of the landing party when General MacArthur returned to the Philippine Islands.
In 1950, while on shore duty on Guam, he served as part of the support for the Korean War. He concluded his Naval Career while stationed on the USS Oriskany (a carrier) in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War.
Along this journey, he shared his life with Myrtle. They had been married for 50 years when she passed away. Together they raised two children; Gloria (Joe) McElyea, and Gerald (Leah) Southard. The next generation of extended family included Dina Taylor, Tawny (Tom) Harris, Myriah and Zachary Southard. Yet another generation was spawned with the births of George, Kaelyn and Cambria Harris, Maven and Eden Taylor. Jennifer (John) Hinderliter, USN-YNSC and Thomas (Ana) Harris also joined the family in this generation. During Conward's lifetime yet another generation was added with the arrival of Jennifer's children, Jasmyn and Jules Hinderliter; Thomas's children, Thomas, Andrew and Matthew Harris.
Always in his workshop, Red mended untold numbers of neighborhood trike's, bikes and kites. If it was broken, he could fix it. He never turned away a child or adult in need. He befriended countless numbers. One nephew described him as a "wonderfully unique person". His jokes and the sound of his laughter will live on with each of those he encountered.
At the end of a long and fulfilled journey however, it is not specifically what one does or does not do, it is how those around you "feel" in recollection. Red's journey ended on February 11, 2014. The wonderful memories of his presence live on. Services are private.
Published in the Pomerado News on Apr. 10, 2014