This is the obituary that I wrote for my Dad a year ago today.
I miss him.
Leigh Melvin Bullen died peacefully at sunset in his home. On January 28th, 2019 with his wife Patty right beside him, he quietly stopped breathing. The passing was gentle and without pain but it is clear to all of us that the warmonger leukemia was an unfair opponent.
Luckily for all his grandkids, Rosemary and Jane Wommack, Charlie, JP, Myra Jane, and Benny Keen, and Addy, Tuck, BeBe, George, Dolly and Mim Rodi- their Aubee told great stories of his life growing up in the Mississippi Delta- playing hooky, riding horses, and driving tractors way too young.
He lived most of his childhood in Tutwiler, MS with his grandparents, mom Martha Elizabeth Turner and his three sisters, Dorothy Bingham, Beth Christensen, and Lydia Dunavent, Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Troque Turner, Aunt Teenie and Uncle Pelham Turner. His dad, Leigh Melvin Bullen Sr. lived in Fayette, Mississippi.
He met my mom Patricia Bishop Bullen at University Of Southern Mississippi and they married June 1971. After being in the Air Force and Merchant Marines, Leigh became a CPA and they had three girls Marjorie Rodi, Amanda Wommack, and Susan Keen. For most of our childhood, we lived in Nashville, TN with St. Henry’s Catholic Church being our second home. Leigh converted to Catholicism when he married Patty and he became a fervent and faithful believer. He never met a Parish Council that he didn’t run. He used his banking skills from Nashville City Bank, Dominion Bank, and First Union to keep each parish on solid financial ground. He worked tirelessly picking up doughnuts, chairing committees, lining up folding chairs, and stuffing envelopes.
Nothing was beneath my dad. He built ramps for people who needed to get in their house with their wheelchair, created closet systems for his daughters new houses, built bunkbeds for his grandchildren, took every visitor to his home on a full tour of the island, drove the truck to pick up food for Second Helpings, revamped the Catholic Thrift Store, built quilt displays for my mom’s guild’s quilt show and loaded umpteen U-Hauls. He was the first person you called when you needed something. He showed up every time, completed tasks, and cleaned up afterward.
His family is so blessed. He made a wonderful life for us with my mom. We have years of routines, rituals, funny sayings and vacations to thrive on and continue in his honor. Because of our dad, we will teach our children to shake hands firmly, visit the National Parks, vote, save our pennies, tell each other how much we love them, buy the cheapest Christmas tree, take a Sunday drive while holding your spouse’s hand the whole time, eat breakfast for Sunday night supper, hike nonexistent trails on the side of cliffs, allow our grown kids to move back in with their dogs and husbands and babies, whistle with our pinkies in the corner of our mouths, swallow our watermelon seeds, listen to horrible pop music inappropriate for our generation, walk on the beach, and roar like a bear in young children’s ear. We will show up for every graduation, soccer game, swim meet, lesson at the barn, school pick up, church meeting, and sunset on the dock- oh, and make everybody line up to have their picture made.
A lot of people think my dad was perfect and without fault and with his death, one will be tempted to hold fast to that fib. My dad was just like everybody else. He didn’t think he was better or more holy. He just tried real hard. He focused on his values of family, church, nature and hard work. And we are so lucky to have his example.
He loved everybody- his sons in law (Chad Rodi, Klif Wommack, and Jarrod Keen), his sisters in law (Merrilyn Sciortino. Kay Toups, Mopsy Forsee, Peggy Bishop and Susan Yarrow,) his nieces and nephews (Anna Sarah Osborn, Chris Mullen, Chris Bingham, Dee Toups, Jay Toups, Denise Capella, Katherine Marino, Suzie Ware, Melanie Doll, Jodie Sciortino, Joseph Sciortino, Angie D’Angelo, Jennifer Mouledous, Jamie Bishop, Max Giannelli, Johnny Bishop, Joe Bishop, Niki Sherrod, Melissa Moore, Lindsey Wilbur, Trey Bishop, Katie Bishop, and Elise Toups,) and his brothers in law (Chester Dunavent, Delaney Toups, Joe Sciortino, Johnny Bishop, Tommy Gascon, Tom Forsee and Jim Bishop.)
In honor of my dad, watch the sunset and if you care to donate, please give to Habitat.org or Tutwilerclinic.org