He wrote his own epitaph.
It was after his first marriage ended in divorce, that he fell hard for a loving mother and her two children.
Their new life together Life was divine. He was deeply in love. And he had two younger kids to nurture now that his own were nearly grown.
But the dream vaporized into the fog the day his bride dropped to the floor and became unresponsive.
Bad weather grounded the medivac chopper that could have zipped quickly to the nearest trauma hospital 110 miles away.
So he hopped in the back of the ambulance to accompany her on the ride to St. Louis. A flat tire and bad directions hampered the arrival of a relief vehicle.
By the time it was sorted out, she was gone. Brain aneurysm, they said.
He never fully recovered, despite a later relationship with the woman he'd hoped would help him forget his overwhelming grief.
"When I die," he once told me, " you can tell people I died of a broken heart."
Those haunting words came back to me when I got the call he'd had a fatal heart attack during a pick-up basketball game 30 years ago President's Day. He was 46.
For the first time, I felt the same sort of excruciating loss that killed him.
I miss you, Dad. And I wish I could have been there.
Photo: Magelli Family Album