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Hugh O'Handley Sr. 1927 - 2008

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Today marks one year since my dad's passing,

My Dad began building custom homes in 1952 and started me working for his construction company in 1962 at the age of 11-½. When his knees and one hip finally gave out in the 90’s he had total knee replacement in both legs and had one hip replaced. By then, he was finding it difficult to frame on his own so he switched from framing his own homes to having modular shells delivered to his sites and would then complete the rest of the home on his own. By then he was only building one or two houses a year.

He thought modulars were a great way to go because a buyer could get more bang for the buck. Whenever we got together he'd talk about their uniqueness and I learned a lot about them. In 2001 he was out here for a visit and we visited the Timberland Modular Homes yard in Kent so he could compare west coast characteristics to east coast characteristics. He was impressed with the unique way Timberland cross braces their floor joists with half-lapped bracing.

In 2003 he decided to build his last home and built the one you see here, finishing up in time for my home town’s tri-centennial. It's a modular. He used his excavator to dig the hole then hired some kid to help him lug the forms and place the concrete. 8 weeks later, the boxes arrived - there were six of them. He finished the house and then added the wrap-around deck and the front porch.

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A few months after he’d completed it, he stick-built the garage workshop behind the house

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and then built the fence in front in the summer of 2006.

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That same year, he bought a new home in Florida and finally pulled the plug in December of 2007. Two months later he got sick and in May I flew back east and I drove him back home to New York. The doctors had removed his gall bladder in Florida and assured him that the mass in his abdomen wasn’t cancer and was merely an infection but I think he knew better and wanted to be home when the time came. We got to New York, opened up the house and two days later said our goodbyes at the airport in Newburg.

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A couple of weeks later he collapsed and was rushed to the local hospital where doctors ran a battery of tests and informed him that the “infectionâ€

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The nice thing is most of us now realize exactly how smart our Father was. Without him, we would know nothing. I treasure how my Father shared his knowledge and participated in learning right along with me.

Really nice to put your arm around him and "pose" for a photo.

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Hey Cousin,

We should all have sons like you. My own Dad isn't well and has dementia. Every day is a gift. I keep remembering what Warren Zevon advised after finding out he was terminally ill:

"Enjoy every sandwich."


I lost both of mine years ago. I long for a few moments more.

Knowing one of the men Sr. left behind, he was surely a good man.

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Nice tribute Mike, and my condolences on your loss.

I lost my father when I was 8 years old. Although my mother remarried when I was in my early teens, I had become a independant, and stubborn, little cuss by then. I have a few, very vague memories of time with my father, but not nearly enough. I'm happy for you that you have much more.

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It's amazing how well our fathers educated us. My dad and friends built a Liberty kit home. My job at the ripe age of 13 was to dig the trench and lay the pipe for the main waste line to the cess pool. He told me how to do it and indicated that if I did a sloppy job and it got clogged I would be the one to dig it up. The deal was he trusted me to do it right and I didn't have to leave the trench open until he inspected it. (Do you know any 13 yr old that doesn't know how to take short cuts?) After about 3 months I had to dig it up and do it over. 30' of manure packed pipe taught me to try to do things right the first time. I guess "measure twice cut once" applies to may other things in life.

That was a great tribute to your dad.

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The nice thing is that tributes to his skill, tenacity and integrity dot the landscape or the east coast, and so they shall for hundreds of years to come.

Someday, a home inspector, hopefully made more skillful by the future offshoots of the TIJ website will take a look at one of them and say something like, "they knew how to build them back then..."

Makes me miss my own Father.

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