Thank you all for coming here today to honor Dad. Thank you also for the cards, letters, and kind words of support after Dad’s passing. Our family really appreciates them.
Roger Leland Gewecke was born on April 6, 1937 in Evanston, WY. His father Cliff was a machinist and diesel mechanic for the Union Pacific Railroad. His mother Edna stayed at home with him and his brother, Cliff Jr. They moved to California in 1943, settling in Maywood. He attended Bell High School, where he was senior class president.
He then enrolled at USC in 1955, where he was a top finance student. He said that from the time he set foot on the USC campus he felt he belonged there, a feeling that never went away. He met Mom there at what was called a” TGIF”, where a fraternity and sorority would get together for a Friday afternoon exchange. He often marveled at his good fortune at meeting her there. Once we were driving past the university when he remarked how glad he was that he went to USC. The rest of us in the car agreed, because if he hadn’t gone there and met Mom, none of would have been born!
He loved the university very much and was an ardent supporter of Trojan athletics. He and Mom were long-time season ticket holders at USC football, basketball and baseball, and made many road trips to see theTrojans play football across the country. They also attended the College World Series in Omaha twice.
He and Mom married in 1959. Dad had enjoyed and excelled in his investment classes at USC and he wanted to get into the investment business. He thought it might be a good profession since you didn’t get your hands dirty and that he would likely become well-off, because an investment professional would only invest in the stocks that went up! He was told by potential employers that he was too young and needed to get sales experience, so Dad took a job with Colgate Palmolive in the San Francisco Bay Area.
A stroke of good fortune came when he was making calls one day with his supervisor. They had had a good day when the man told him he wanted to give him some advice. His supervisor was a Stanford graduate and the father of four who had wanted to be a doctor. He told Dad that if he really wanted to be in the investment business that he should do it before being confined by family financial obligations. The next day Dad resigned, turning in his company car and his sample case.
Dad was unable to find a job in San Francisco but was hired to work in the research department at Bateman Eichler Hill Richards in 1959. Over the next decade he found the time to earn his MBA, teach finance classes at both USC and UCLA, hold a demanding full-time job, and father four children. He ultimately became the director of research at Bateman Eichler and a shareholder of the firm. He stayed there for 25 years.
Their first child was born in December, 1960, and [they] decided to look for their first home. Since satisfactory housing on the Westside was unaffordable, they decided to look for a home in the San Gabriel Valley. They headed toward Temple City and overshot it, winding up in Arcadia and finding a small real estate office. The agent showed them some homes in Arcadia, and they bought the first of three homes in this city, where they lived for 53 years. Dad loved the city of Arcadia, finding it a wonderful community with great schools and great people.
He coached youth baseball in Arcadia from 1970 to 1983. He had been a very good player himself when he was young, playing on his high school varsity team as a freshman. He showed up as an observer at his oldest son’s first practice in 1970, where the manager asked him if he’d like to help with the team. It didn’t take a lot of arm twisting for him to take the job! He later coached all three of his sons and coached kids whose ages ranged from eight to 16. He prided himself on teaching kids that the most important part of their whole experience was being part of a team. He taught them to play the game right and to always know what to do with the ball in any given situation. Although he was a very competitive man, he was always the type of person a parent would like their child to play for. Dad made many friends through the time he spent coaching and always looked back fondly on those times as some of the best he ever had. His interest in baseball never waned, and he greatly enjoyed seeing his grandchildren play at all levels and his son Steve’s teams play at Alhambra High. He had a permanent seat at ground level at the Alhambra games. One time, when a pitcher threw an especially poor curveball, he picked up his cane, took a perfect level swing, and proclaimed that “I could have hit that hanger!”
Dad also became an active member of the Arcadia Rotary club and a board member of the Santa Anita Family YMCA.
One area where he was an especially active volunteer was the Los Angeles Society of Financial Analysts, serving as its president from 1971-72. He especially enjoyed his twenty years as membership chairman after that. I still often hear from people how grateful they were that when they moved to Los Angeles and didn’t know anyone in the investment profession, they would call him as membership chair to join the analyst society, and he would routinely invite them to have lunch. He was always generous with his time and a great mentor and friend to young professionals.
In the early 80s Dad had the pleasure of seeing his daughter Ellen be presented at the Debutante Ball. She remembers him as being a very good dancer. Mom and Dad also started taking vacation trips to Hawaii, almost every year since their 25th anniversary in 1984. They became experts on all of the islands. Dad’s leisure wardrobe also took a dramatic turn at that point, as he developed an affinity for Hawaiian shirts, amassing over 150 (by conservative estimate) on their trips to the islands.
Dad left Bateman Eichler after 25 years in 1984 and after a short stay at Kidder Peabody, he joined Van Deventer & Hoch as a portfolio manager in 1985 until he retired in 2002.
He had four children and 11 grandchildren. His idea of a perfect day was to have all of his family running around in his home, but geography made that difficult, as Rob lives in the Bay Area and Ellen in Carlsbad. He was an ideal father, grandfather, and role model whose kindness, patience, and generosity are still an inspiration to all of us. He was quite often the smartest person in the room without the compulsion to let everyone know it. As a parent he was always at his best in the big moments. He always gave good advice, and was ready to give you a pat on the back or a kick somewhere a little lower and a little harder if he felt you needed it. But you never walked away from any encounter with him feeling worse than you did when you started or without the definite feeling that he was in your corner, regardless of whether he agreed with your current course of action. Once one of us was arguing with our mother and, once away from Mom, appealed to him to validate our side of the argument. He said it didn’t matter if you were right; he had never won an argument with Mom so it was futile to think that you might, and finished by saying sometime one needs to take the path of least resistance. As his health problems began to accumulate, his final few years were very painful for him physically. But his attitude never wavered—he was always resilient, graceful, cheerful and positive with everyone he encountered, and his grandchildren noticed how happy people were to see him when he was out and about.
His most important relationship and the one he most cherished was with Mom. They were married for 55 years. His love for her was apparent. He never took a moment with her for granted, and remarked often how grateful he was that everything had worked out for them and their marriage. From a child’s perspective, they were always on the same page; if they disagreed on anything large or small, we never knew it. Over his 43 year career he never left for work without kissing her goodbye and he never returned without kissing her hello.
Thank you for allowing a few remembrances of Dad, and our family appreciates all of you for being here today.