Rand McNally was my uncle, a few years younger than my father. Not a direct ancestor, but a branch on my tree and one that I knew when I was a child. When he got out of the Army, after serving in Vietnam, he came to live with us for a while. I think he slept on the living room couch. I would have only been four or five years old at the time, maybe six, so I don't have many linear memories, rather, sporadic images without much in the way of context or sequence. I remember having a lot of fun when he came - he bought water guns and he, my sister, and I battled out in the yard. After a month or two, I think, he headed out to Iowa where my grandfather and a few of my aunts lived and opened a radiator repair shop
I got to see him at least one more time before he died, on a family trip to Iowa a few years later. He and my dad competed in a demoltion derby at a county fair (which I did not get to see because I got sick on that trip), but that was only for a week or so.
After that, the next time I saw him was at his funeral. On the evening of September 28, 1978, Rand fell asleep in the trailer he lived in while smoking a cigarette, and died in the fire that followed, a horrible, horrible, senseless way to die. His is the first funeral I remember attending. I remember looking at his body in the coffin and not really fully accepting what was going on - I was eight years old at the time. Funerals are tough at that age, the normal eight year old urge to run wild like a barbarian is strong and difficult to restrain, even when the mood suggests it would be a bad idea. So I mostly sat there very quiet and more than a little sad. He is buried at the cemetery at the Albright Church of the Brethren in Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania.
Rand never got to meet my brothers, one was a year old and the other not yet born when he died. He never married, never had children of his own.
A life too short. We miss you. Rest in peace.