What was it like being Ren’s son? Imagine spending your whole life knowing that your father loved you because he was explicit in saying so. That has been my happy life. He was direct and generous. He was funny and kind. He spanked us and we lived. He was the best dad as a kid and, like fine wine, with age, he became something more — our Pere; this wise, kind, funny, generous change agent in our lives. Being Ren’s son was nothing short of amazing. I was one of only five people on the planet who consistently received letters from him signed “Love, Dad.” And I got to borrow lots of cash that I did not pay back.
I have met a lot of men from the Greatest Generation and my father was the tip of the spear. He was a West Point graduate, successful businessman, entrepreneur, writer, lecturer and, ultimately, devoted patriarch. Through his writing and prison ministry, he achieved a rare third act in his life. I can honestly tell you that my dad lived a life of service to others from his time as a teenager through the last days of his life, and yet did so without depriving himself of the comforts of abundance. He was joyful, no matter what calamity was wreaking havoc on his body or spirit. He remained a happy and contented man to the end.