He Lifted Them to the Stars

Victor W. Jorgensen, Jr. sharing his love of music with son, Erik Jorgensen, and daughter, Cheri Jorgensen Meiners.

Victor W. Jorgensen, Jr. sharing his love of music with son, Erik Jorgensen, and daughter, Cheri Jorgensen Meiners.

Erik Jorgensen, Staff Writer

I buried my dad Wednesday.

Dry thunder crackled and echoed across the canyons and foothills of the mountain valley. Bagpipes joined the angelic choir’s mournful fugue as I carried the king’s golden chesspiece with my brothers, nephew and brother-in-law to its final checkmate. The heavens wept a little, and after his body touched down at its final landing site, a hailstorm joined its celestial salute to the majestic May morning.

Victor W. Jorgensen, Jr. was not an astronaut, but his magnum opus launched others up through the atmosphere to their apotheosis. While heaven’s requiem for the rocket scientist chess master was a thunderous sturm und drang hailstorm, NASA presented him a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Several people drove for hours to shake my hand and say, “I’m sorry for your loss,” because they didn’t know what else to say. I would smile back gratefully and say, “Thank you for coming,” because I didn’t know what else to say. Then they got back into their cars and drove home. Some day I will hear of their passing, and I will drive out there to say, “I’m sorry for your loss,” because I won’t know what else to say. But I will mean it with all my heart.

By reading to me as a child, my father demonstrated the value of books. Through his unfailing example, he demonstrated the value of Truth – not just in words, but in action and thought. Most importantly, my father taught me to be true to myself. “Better far,” he often sang to me, “to live and die under the brave black flag you fly, than play a sanctimonious part with your pirate brain and your pirate heart.” He was very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical and could solve equations, both the simple and quadratical.

But my father’s greatest attribute by far was he was somebody I was proud to call my friend. Thank you for being such a good father, and for being my father. We miss you.

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