Ronald Walter LangfordMarch 24, 1953 ~ July 21, 2017 (age 64)
Our father, Ronald Walter Langford, was born on March 23rd, 1954 in Augsburg, Germany. His father, Floyd Langford, was in the Air Force and his mother, Irene, had traveled there to be with him. Ron was the sixth of what would be ten children.
When I went to visit my father after he had passed, it obviously was very difficult. Time and circumstance had changed his face, and I didn’t see the dad we knew there. Kneeling beside him I found his hand under the blanket and held it for a while. This was my dad’s hand. This was the hand that had held mine so many times throughout my life, the same hand that rested on my side as I had cuddled into the crook of his arm. Those strong hands were the same hands that had served others his whole life. The same hands who held his infant children and grandchildren as he gave them blessings, those hands that helped us under the water as he baptized us, and those hands that bestowed the gift of the Holy Ghost. Those same hands gave so many father’s blessings of comfort and peace throughout our lives.
His hands had served the people in Austria on his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, built houses in Idaho with his brothers, played rugby for BYU and football and basketball. They were the same hands that strung his bow and took his children hunting, hands that tried to train a bird dog who was afraid of birds. He also tried to use those hands to be a fly fisherman – when that didn’t work out – he found success taking us dip-netting and set-netting in Alaska. He took us camping and used his hands to fix what was always inevitably missing from the tent.
Dad loved to swim. In his later years when his body wasn’t as agile as it had been, swimming gave him the freedom to move around as he wanted to. He would dive under the water and use his hands to sneak up behind us to grab our legs and tickle us. When we were small his hands caught us and eventually his grandchildren as we jumped into the water from the side.
When he was the nursery leader at church, he would make friends with the most skeptical toddler by using those hands to do magic tricks with his tie. The seemingly most un-likely candidate for the job – he loved those little children and they loved him back. He loved his own grandchildren even more, holding them as infants he would expertly put them to sleep. He taught them some of their first sounds and used his hands to teach them the landmarks on their faces.
Our father was a very generous man. Every year he would search the aisles of Costco looking for the perfect gift for his children, always at the last minute. On Christmas day, it was those hands that passed us each our gifts, sometimes pulling them from a bag of unwrapped presents to ensure things ended up even.
With those hands, he would shuffle and pass the cards for us to play games, his favorites being Rook and Canasta. He loved the challenge of Boggle and was seldom beat. He would even suffer through a game of Phase 10 if it meant that we were all together.
So many times those hands helped carry and lift things as we moved from one adventure to another. His hands on the steering wheel he drove us across the country singing to his musicals and listening to Rush Limbaugh. Dad loved to sing, and he had such a lovely voice (even when he sang with headphones on) and he loved to listen to us sing. He was proud when we accomplished something, and wouldn’t let us give up when we didn’t
He was a maker. He built bunk beds and swing-sets, stairs, shelves, derby cars, and our family table. Later when his body wasn’t as strong he would use his hands to carve and create things with leather and wood. He cooked all sorts of things, creating his own recipes and techniques, sometimes yummy – sometimes not – when you have six kids there’s always at least one critic. He used those hands, his rototiller, and later his tractor in the soil as he planted gardens. Like he nurtured his gardens, he helped nurture the relationships of his children. Even when our lives were very tumultuous – the love he taught us as we were growing helped us to stay close.
Dad was always a teacher. He taught the scouts and his reluctant grandchildren to tie knots and make fires. He spent time as a nursing instructor. I remember once when he was hospitalized he taught the nurses there how to do a better PICC line dressing – on his own arm. He taught us how our own actions can influence other people for good.
Our dad, as the father of five girls (and one boy-he did his own hair), desperately wanted to fix our hair. He went out and bought the prettiest ribbons and clips and put them into a box. We weren’t allowed to have these in our hair – unless Dad had put them there. We would sit in front of him as he would attempt all sorts of hairdos – in his mind styles at the forefront of fashion. He tried many times to learn to French braid, but those hands were not made for braiding – he eventually decided that it wasn’t something he had wanted to learn anyway. Someone else did their hair when his girls got married – but it was his hands that twirled and spun them then held them close when they danced.
Throughout his career as a nurse he used those hands to serve his patients and co-workers. His work spanned several states including Idaho, Alaska, New Mexico, Washington, Nebraska, California and Oregon. He first helped laboring mothers, then moved on to be a surgical nurse where he was the go-to guy for a difficult IV start. As he moved to be an administrator, those hands would hunt and peck at the keyboard to develop processes to help make hospital surgery centers run more efficiently. He was so expert at diffusing escalating situations.
My sister asked me the other day what I would consider a successful life – and I responded that I would feel successful if my children ended up as good people. Our dad was successful in creating this family with our mother – we all love each other so much and try our best to be good people. So much of who we are was shaped by our father. He loved us so much, and was so proud of us. Like our brother said – I hope we can take the best things he gave us – and in turn give them to our children.
Our father is survived by his brothers Richard Langford, Larry Langford, Leonard Langford, Mike Langford; his sisters Kathleen Ralph, Mayrene Stewart and Darlene Langford; his children and their spouses: Don and Michelle Langford, Linda and Todd Smith, Edra and Landdon Chamberlin, Cindy and Bradley Dilg, Bonnie Langford, Nicole Langford; and 11 granddaughters: Kelsey, Alice, Evelyn, Lucille, Gracie, Annie, Eleanor, Penelope, Mable, McKendra, Catherine; and 3 grandsons: Samuel, Jared and Levi.