The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Columnists

June 15, 2013

BILL EGGERT | Dad always knew what’s in a name

— What’s in a name? Shakespeare knew; so did Dad. Father’s Day is once again here. For those of us whose fathers are still with us, we hop in the car one Sunday in June annually and visit “dear old Dad,” gifting him with golf equipment, fishing gear, or those notoriously bad neckties.

But for those of us whose fathers have passed on, we are only left with bittersweet memories of a man who was always there for us in good times and bad; cheering us on in our games, or consoling us in our setbacks.

No matter their size, shape, color or personality, our dads were the guys who we turned to in times of trouble; our first line of defense. They could bring down the wrath of Zeus in one moment, putting the fear of God into us. They could also touch our hearts with an unexpected act of kindness in a moment when all hope seemed lost, yet never stopping to take a bow. That is how my dad was; I am sure he was a lot like your fathers as well.

Those of you who are regular readers know my dad through the past seven years of my column. Sometimes he is the subject of my column; other times his presence is off-stage, or in the background of a related subject, like the one on Pirate legend Arky Vaughan. I always appreciate the nice feedback I get from  readers about the columns with Dad; they obviously strike a responsive chord as you all remember and honor your fathers. Recollections are all I have left of Dad to cherish as I sort through the attic of my memories of him, now that he is gone.

Dad was a wonderful raconteur; he loved to tell stories. Like the one about his unique name. Roman Catholics have four names: first, middle, Confirmation name, and surname. But Dad had an extra name. Dad’s full name was William Anthony Bernard Francis Eggert. William was Dad’s father’s name, Anthony was his middle name (After St. Anthony), Francis was his Confirmation name, to honor his mother (Frances), and Eggert our surname.

Where did Bernard come in? Bernard was Great-Grandpap’s first name (Dad’s grandfather, my great-grandfather) who lived to be 103 years old, and the patriarch of the Eggert family. Bernard von Eggert immigrated to America (from Germany) via Ellis Island when he was just a teenager. He was one of Pittsburgh’s first mounted policemen in the early 1900’s. Great-Grandpap no doubt felt slighted that his name was not attached to Dad, so he had his old friend, the parish pastor, add his name to Dad’s birth certificate when he was baptized.  Like Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, Great-Grandpap did not believe in no-win situations. Dad always got a kick out of telling that story.

Names were important to Dad and his family. I will always be grateful to Mom for giving me an old photo from a Father’s Day long ago in Pittsburgh. Standing in the backyard was Great-Grandpap (Bernard Eggert), Grandpap (William J. Eggert), a young Dad (William A. Eggert) and his little son (me, William D. Eggert). Four generations of Eggerts, three of whom were named William. I always enjoy looking at that photo; it gives me comfort gazing at their smiling faces, tinged with a bit of sadness realizing that all of them are gone.

The photo reminds me of how tradition was important to those men, like continuing the name of William. It used to get confusing growing up at home. The phone caller would ask for “Bill Eggert” and Dad would say “You got him,” and then chuckle when the caller clarified they were asking for the ‘other’ Bill Eggert. Mom now fields calls asking for Bill Eggert; it must be painful for her to tell callers that neither Bill Eggert lives there anymore.

Dad loved music, but was not much for country, and especially rock. But one song he always enjoyed was the Johnny Cash classic “A Boy Named Sue,” a huge hit for Cash in 1969. Dad loved the father-son theme and the significance of a name. He also appreciated good comedy. I know that if I ever settle down with a nice young girl and have a son I will definitely name him Bill, in honor of Dad. Maybe add Bernard also. Dad would like that; Great-Grandpap would love it.

Bill Eggert is a Johnstown resident. He writes an occasional column.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local Columnists
  • Local Columnists

    Robin L. Quillon
    Chip Minemyer
    Tom Lavis
    Mike Mastovich
    Cory Isenberg
    Eric Knopsnyder
    Ralph Couey
    Zachary Hubbard
    Michele Bender
    Bill Eggert
    David Knepper

    William Lloyd
     

    July 6, 2010

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL | Music to my ears

    Seldom has $15 produced such a high level of entertainment as it did a few weeks ago when I found myself in the second row just left of center keeping back the tears once again during my third live performance of “Les Miserables.”

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Curtis, Shawn SHAWN CURTIS | Pirates win has familiar feel

    As much as all the fuzzy feelings of the 2013 season came to an end when Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano fired a first-pitch strike to Emilio Bonifacio at 1:14 p.m. on Monday afternoon at PNC Park, the 1-0 win took the shape that many Pittsburgh wins did a season ago.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Eric Knopsnyder ERIC KNOPSNYDER | A fresh take on funnies

    Did you notice some funny business in our comics pages recently?
    Many of you did and contacted the newsroom to ask why “Doonesbury” and “For Better or For Worse” were no longer appearing in our publication.
    There’s a simple explanation: They are no longer being produced.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL | Basketball officials never win

    Today’s column bounces from local politics to basketball after two previous articles concentrated on Jesse Topper’s successful launch into a new career as a state representative.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Michele Mikesic Bender | Playing the name game

    So, did you decide on the ‘popcorn dress’  for the church dinner?” asked Judi, my Communion Lady.
    “No, I think the ‘hydrangea dress’ might be better,’’ I answered.
    “You name your clothes?” Denise’s jaw dropped.

    February 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Eggert Columnist Photo Bill Eggert | A heartfelt message of thanks

    February is the month the medical community sets aside for matters related to heart health. That makes sense, given that Valentine’s Day is right in the middle of the month. So it was ironic that I found myself dealing with the matter of the heart in a serious way this month.
    This column is a valentine to the staff of the Conemaugh Health System.

    February 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL | Answering the call, wherever it leads

    My last column dwelled extensively on the qualifications of Jesse Topper, the multitalented, highly-respected and popular former executive minister at Bedford Methodist Church.
    Left unanswered was the question “why” – why did the newly-elected state representive choose to turn away from what many believed was his destiny to be an ordained pastor?

    February 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL: Election win a loss for church

    Folks at Bedford United Methodist Church had a difficult decision to make at Tuesday’s special election to determine the successor to the late state Rep. Dick Hess.
    It was all about wanting the best for Republican candidate Jesse Topper but not wanting to deal with the likelihood of his leaving his church position for an opportunity that is far different from what he is so ably doing.

    January 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Eggert Bill Eggert: Elvis remains the King

    Last week we marked the birthday of an American original: the late Elvis Presley.
    Jan. 8, 2015, will mark his 80th birthday.
    This is hard to wrap our minds around given Elvis always seems to remain forever young, frozen in time.

    January 11, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads