A Tribute to my Dad and Mom

Otha H. Vaughan, Sr.
Ethel Mayfield Vaughan

My dad was born at South Union, S.C. on Aug. 21, 1904 and he had 4 brothers and three sisters. He spent most of his adult life in Seneca, S.C. where he lived until God called him home while he was living here in Huntsville, AL. on 2 January,1993. My mother was born on September 18, 1908 in Anderson, S.C. and she had one brother. Dad and Mom were married on December 25,1927 in Anderson, S.C. and established their home in Seneca, S.C. The patience and guidance that they gave to me as I was growing up have provided me with the tools to accomplish what I have done today with my life. During their life time both was able to see the begining and growth of commerce and technology, as we know it today, with the airplane after the Wright Brothers first flight, World War I, the Golden Age of Aviation, World War II, Supersonic flights, the development of space vehicles that allowed men for the first time to leave the Earth and explore the Moon, America's first space station Skylab to be placed in earth orbit and sucessfully operated, and finally the present day routine flights of the Space Shuttle type missions which place people and scientific equipment in low Earth orbit and conduct various scientific research programs on a routine basis.

Fame and power were unimportant to my Dad. What gave meaning and value to their lives was giving to others, little acts of kindness to others, and their daily dealing with dad's customers in his Television and Radio Repair shop that he operated for over 40 years, and how he related to his family. My Dad did not get to go to College after graduating from Seneca School in Seneca, S.C. In 1923 he built his first radio using a round paper tube on which he wrapped a number of coils of wire to serve as his antenna. To further his education he studied books, took correspondence courses, experimented with building radios, building model airplanes with me as I was growing up because both he and I were interested in aviation. He repaired radio and TV recievers ther at our home and experimented with them over the following years while he continued to work at various jobs as a clothing and shoe salesman(Sperlings), a grocery store meat market manager(Winn Dixie), and finally in 1947 he started his own business, Vaughan's Radio and TV Service in a small shop located on the corner of Main street and Walnut street there in Seneca.

My Dad was a simple man that loved his family, his country, his church, and his fellow man. He spent many hours as I was growing up instilling in me that one should treat others as they would want to be treated and this was reflected in his daily relations with his coustomers while as a businessman. He also in his later life took an interest in city politics and at one time he was the Director of the Seneca Water Works in Seneca, S.C. He was an active Mason and a Shriner and he and mother were both active in the Eastern Star as well as the many Masonic events for men and women. Even at 85 he was still driving his car and continued to operate his Radio and TV Repair business.

We didn't get to take many vacations since Dad was working most of the time but to me each one was a learning experence. We usually went to Florida on our vacations because my mother worked for the Anderson Independent and Daily Mail newspapers in Anderson, S.C. and they always gave Mom a vacation trip to Flordia each year as a reward for her work as a reporter. Mother was an active in her church, civic clubs and she was an Associated Press newspaper reporter and had her own weekly column "Oconee Friends" in the Anderson Independent and Daily Mail for at least 50 years.

After graduating from college in 1951, I reported for active durt as a 2nd Lt in the USAF. I was released from active duty after serving my required time and returned to college. After completing most work toward my graduate studies I then began working as an engineer in the beginning of the US Space Program, first with the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA)and later for the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Al. The former Betty Frances McCoy from Atmore, Al. and I were married in 1960 and began to raise our family. We always remained in contact by telephone or by letters with my mom and dad and we would go to see them when time permited from my job. Every visit would bring back memories of the time I had spent at home and what a blessing it was to have parents like them.

Then there came a time in Dad's life in May 1989 that created a series of crisis, He was burned over 18 percent of his upper body from an exploding grease fire as he was preparing a evening meal of fried fish for mother and himself at home. He was flown by helicopter to the Burns Unit of the University of South Carolina Medical Hospital in Charleston S.C where he began to be treated for his burns. His right hand was so severely burned that it had to be amputated and he was in critical condition and Remained in a coma for at east 4 months but he came out of the coma, although the doctors didn't believe he would do it. He and Mom came to Huntsville to live with me and my family so I could take care of him. He later went thru a number of plastic surgery operations here in Huntsville, Al. and in the University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham, Al. for reconstructive type surgery to reconstruct the damaged mouth and chin and finally it appeared that he was finally on his way to recovery. In early December 1992 he complained of a pain in his side and we discovered that he had developed an aneurysm in his lower abdomen that it had to be repaired. He decided to have the operation and the operation was sucessful but as he was recovering from the surgery he developed a series of infections and other complications and he later died on 2 January 1993 after a month long battle. During all this time he always had faith that things would work out for him or as the Lord would have it as he always said.

Prior 1989 Mom had not been feeling to well here in Huntsville so she had decided to have a complete physical exam and after the exam she was told that she had developed colon cancer and she would need an operation and radiation  treatments. She had the operation in March, 1990 and the radiation and chemo followed and it appeared that everything had worked out for her. After the death of my dad in 1993 she decided she wanted to return to Seneca again and we got her an apartment for her and her dog Mickey. But after a while living in the apartment she fell and broke her hip. She recovered and around April 1996 she returned to Huntsville, lived in a small assisted living home for a while, but while there the cancer returned, her treatment was not successful and and she died here at my home in Huntsville on November 23,1996.

There is so much more I could say about my Dad and Mom but if caring is sharing and living is giving then my Dad and Mom lived a exemplanry life and they gave me so much to be thankful for. They set many examples that have helped me in living my life today and enjoying my grandchildren. I am so blessed and so lucky to have had a father and mother like them.