Life Stories

Eulogy For Andrew Carroll Jr.
Delivered By
Andrew Carroll III
On January 30, 2015

Today, we're here to honor the legacy of Andrew Carroll Jr., my dad. Although my dad suffered from Alzheimer's disease, he never forgot that he served in the U.S. Navy. Even in the last years of his life, he talked about being onboard the USS Wisconsin and the USS Quincy. I know he was a welder because he once told me that he learned how to weld ships underwater. He enlisted at age 17 and served 4 years. My dad was a proud sailor and loved being in the US Navy, and for that, I'm sure he would want to be remembered.

After the Navy, my dad worked on the assembly line at Ford Motor Company in Pico Rivera, California and worked his way up to foreman. When I finished high school, my dad got me a job at Ford. I saw first hand that my dad was both well respected and well liked by all his men, as well as the higher ups, which was quite an accomplishment.

Once, as a young boy, I remember watching my dad getting ready for work, shaving in front of the mirror. He exuded confidence and happiness in a way I had never seen before. About this same time, my dad dropped me off for my first day of kindergarten. He had to greet the teacher, and I was so proud of him in his shirt and tie. Even though I was nervous about starting kindergarten, I felt safe. I always felt safe around my dad.

The Ford Plant closed in the early 80's, and my dad had to go on unemployment for a while. This gave him the opportunity to repair wrecked cars in his garage where we lived in El Sereno. When it came to fixing cars, my dad was a true artist. He fixed my first car in that garage-a shiny, blue 1972 Volkswagen. My mom was always amazed how my dad could take a junk car and make it look new.

Andrew Carroll Jr., my dad, finished his career with the City of Los Angeles fixing police cars. He famously built a battering ram for the LAPD that was used on crack houses during the war on drugs in the 1980s. He even appeared on a TV special and received accolades from Police Chief, Darryl Gates. My dad was used to the fast pace of the production line at Ford. When he started working for the City, the guys used to give him a hard time because he did so much work. The fact is, they couldn't keep up with him. Nonetheless, he always spoke fondly of his coworkers, and he made a lot of good friends there.

My dad loved his jobs, but most dear to him was the love of his life, my mom, Marie. According to my dad, he first saw my mom descending the hill on Ricardo Street in the Hazard neighborhood of L.A. where they both grew up. When he first laid eyes on her, she was shining like an angel, her aura glowing, light radiating from her entire body. My dad could spin a yarn and the story became more elaborate as the years went on. But tall tale or not, I think my dad truly believed his own story. By the end, he would get choked up, his eyes welled up with tears. In the story, he tells his friend, "I'm going to marry that girl." My mom and dad started going out and were married on April 17, 1948. They were truly meant for each other.

When I was about 12 years old, my dad bought motorcycles for both of us to ride out here in the desert. We still lived in El Sereno but would come out on weekends to escape the city. We used to ride all over, but I'll never forget riding past the new community called Mission Lakes and passing a street called Warwick. Warwick Avenue was also the street of my boyhood home in El Sereno. At the time, I tried to attribute some meaning to this, wondering if it was just coincidence that the 2 streets had the same name, or was it Fate? The answer finally came years later. About 3 years ago, we had to find a place for my dad because my mom was unable to care for him. It was a difficult decision but we didn't have a choice. Miraculously, my mom found a board and care only a couple miles away at Mission Lakes Country Club. We had to drive on Warwick every time we visited my dad. It was like he was Home. He was in the right place. This is where he belonged. I took my mom to visit him daily, and she nursed him back to health.

I believe that the Soul lives on forever. The body is just a vessel, a container, and when we die, our Spirit leaves our body. Going to Catholic School, being Catholic, that is one thing that always made sense to me. My sister, Paula, died 25 years ago on this very day, January 30, 1990. Yet she still lives on. She lives on in my memory and in my heart. She lives in my memory every time I think about her. I can picture her in my mind. She lives on in my heart because I love her, and I know she loves me. Likewise, my dad will live on in my heart and in my memory. As long as we hold onto our memories and love for my dad, he will live on, forever.

The night before my dad died, I couldn't sleep. I had this feeling that I needed to tell him goodbye. The next day, we went to the board and care, and the caregiver told us that my dad hadn't been breathing too well. My dad had oxygen tubes in his nostrils. I went over to my dad's side and said, "this is your son, remember, Andy?" I put my hand over my dad's heart and said, "I Love You, Dad. I Love You." My mom gave him 2 spoonfuls of ice cream, and I went over to the table and paid a couple of bills. Then, he was gone. My mom noticed he had stopped breathing. He must have been waiting for me to say goodbye. "Goodbye Dad. I Love You."

My Dad loved coming to my home for dinner. My husband would tell him to come more often because it was the only time that I would go all out to cook a home cooked dinner and the house would be sparkling clean.