Pete Driver was …and is….an honest to God war hero, and one of the finest humans that I have had the honor of loving.
Born into the wilds of central Oklahoma in 1926, this amazing man who was husband of Pattye, father of Bruce and Kent, father in law, Grandpa to Tiff, Starsha, my girls Christian and Shea, as well as Beau, Max and Storie Driver….he went home to be with the Lord, December 18th. My heart aches, and my baby daughter Shea has been crying off and on. There is so much love in the memories that Pete and Pattye left with their grandchildren that there is a sense of both honor and loss…so many good things to remember that you cannot wish anything but his reunited state with the love of his life, his wife.
It’s been thirteen years past the day that Pattye died, and long, long time since Pete earned a purple heart for losing a lung in battle. Pete had, as they say, an amazing life. I know that mine was better for having his fatherly influence for the decade Kent and I were together, and for his influence in my two Driver kids’ life. LTC Pete Driver was one honest to God hero, on and off the battlefield.
I always loved the story of how Pete wooed the richest girl in town to fall in love with a penniless “injun.” Choctaw by birth, the young Owen Jr. enlisted himself in the Army at a young age, often hitchhiking from his training base in Lawton, OK to their hometown of Ada, OK…where the ever beautiful Pattye Cope was waiting and willing to marry such a handsome man. Movies stars would cringe at the clear eyes, bright smile and handsomeness of his Native American forefathers – something both of his sons and the granddaughters inherited from their lineage.
I remember the first time that I ever met Pete, later my “Dad.” His son was a royal pain in my ass, even on his first day with my ROTC unit in Ada. We laughed about it later, the prima donna LT and the ever glib ranger boy that was the Lt. Colonels son. Still, after being chewed on by my commanding officer for a while over the young Driver’s lack of brass for his uniform, I was less than charitable to the new officer in our midst. I married Kent just two years later, and learned so much from Pete and Pattye in the years that intertwined our lives forever. Although I am no longer part of the official Driver clan, Pete’s passing has left a vastly sore spot in my heart. There are reminders of that life of ours everywhere here at home, including in the wonderful people our two daughters have become. While Christian has that love that radiated from Pattye, our daughter Shea inherited her mother’s mouth and her Driver family stubbornness, a dedication to family that makes me smile as she chastises me for something that I’m not doing totally right. 🙂 I feel for my beloved son in law.
Pete Driver was field commissioned in the “great war,” earning his officer’s rank in a way not common. Battlefield promotions are given in pretty dire circumstances. In their life and defense of the United States, they traveled all over the world before retiring in Ada once again, home with family and friends. Bruce led a full career in the US Army, retiring after several tours as an officer attache to South American countries like Nicaragua and Honduras. He, like his father, was promoted through hard work and dedication. Kent and I left the Army early in our lives, and he’s now an engineer/C level guy for a biofriendly company with “green energy” ideas that really make a positive impact on major buildings across the US.
Pete always used to say “well, so long” whenever Kent and I would head back to OKC after a weekend of visiting with he and Mom. It was one of those things that you never hear from someone else, a way to say “I love you” with simple words that packed a punch. I am so happy that in his time he was able to meet Brian, to be introduced to Taryn, and to see the amazing people that our daughters Christian and Shea became. He was also able to know and love Kent’s amazing kiddos Beau, Max and Storie. When you gather all the Driver grandchildren together, you’re in the presence of some of the most talented, well spoken, beautiful people you could know. It’s a testament to the grace and dignity that Pete and Pattye lent to us all.
I want to be a person like this in life, one that impacts the generations to come. One who speaks in truth without fear, lives life to its fullest. When I think of Pete, it’s a man with lots of courage and the ability to love fully. He was full of promise and mistakes, pros and cons, real life and funny moments. I am a better person for having spent so many years as his and Pattye’s daughter in law. I guess in that the legacy lives in each of us, doesn’t it?
So long, Pete Driver. Thank you for your love, all the hours you spent with our family and my baby girls, for everything you did for the country…and for your amazing sons.
Grace and peace be with you.