My dad, Bobby Nimocks Jr., 90, died of natural causes on Monday, May 11, 2020, in Fayetteville, NC. His quality of life was poor and he’d been in a lot of pain–a body and mind that were in a race to give up on him.
A natural storyteller, my Dad will always be remembered as a “character” with charming eccentricities and an engaging sense of humor with a great sense of timing.
Back in the day, my dad played college basketball for Davidson College in North Carolina and for years insisted he was a terrible player and said he sat on the bench his entire college career. It wasn’t until I met two friends of his years later that I discovered this wasn’t true. They told me he was a talented starter for the team yet the only story he ever told me was the one time he scored a goal for the other team and his father heard it on the radio.
In college, my Dad met Max Stolberg, exchange student from Germany. After Davidson College, my Dad went abroad to Germany and took German at the University of Heidelberg and then got an Interpreter’s certificate from the University of Munich. This was in the 1950s, not long after the war and my dad had not been in the military because of asthma that kept him in bed for two summers as a kid.
It was in Germany he met Max Stolberg’s sister, Ruth and his brother, Fritz. The Stolberg’s were my Dad’s host family. He and Max were close for decades, staying in touch by letters and then later by phone and visits. My Dad spent those two years in Europe touring the country on his bike and taking trains to other destinations.
My dad spoke fluent German
(I speak a little.) He faithfully wrote letters in the language and spoke it whenever he got the chance. He told me his Dad spoke another language, too–sign language. His dad had lived at a school for the deaf when he was in college and learned it then.
My Dad was a born salesman and that’s what he did his whole life until the age of 77. He loved that job.
He absolutely adored classical music and the symphony and had every CD of his favorites. Carmina Burana was one of them. However, his favorite pastime was socializing and making people laugh. He and Charles were a lot alike in so many ways. Both my dad and Charles were dreamers. Neither had a practical bone in his body, they were both ADHD, auditory learners, loved to write, funny and very social. Richard loved him, too, but he is and always has been far more focused than those two.
We used to vacation at Holden Beach at my Aunt Peggy’s cottage
I have so many fond memories there. The highlight was the crabbing expeditions led by my dad, “Captain Bobby.”
We’d spend the day luring crabs into traps the old fashioned way with fish heads on a triangular lure and tempt the crabs painstakingly into our nets. Back in the day, we’d come back with as many as 50-60 crabs. My cousins would add their catch of the day and we’d have a family feast. Boiling crab pots and cocktail sauce, laughter and sunburns, my Dad relished events that brought everyone together and so did I.
His self-deprecating stories about his lack of hunting skills, which frustrated his best friend John Huske who was an expert quail hunter, were hilarious. His strategy was to fill the air with lead and hope a bird runs into it.
All wildlife was basically safe when he had a shotgun in his hand. In fact, it was more likely a quail would die from complications brought on by diabetes than die from my dad’s shotgun.
My Dad was the laughingstock of the entire local hunting community and he took great pride in this. He’d laugh as hard as the rest of us did at his wretched hunting skills and tell stories on his lack of hunting prowess to entertain guests at parties. I swear he was a PETA operative gone undercover. Nobody could be that bad a shot. The broadside of a barn at point-blank range was out of my Dad’s league as far as a possible target.
I’ll never forget the one time he actually shot a quail
It happened at a hunting reserve where they stock it full and all but tie the animals to tree limbs. Our hunting dog, nearly as miserable at retrieving as my Dad was at shooting, almost ate the kill since he had no clue how to retrieve. Up until that point, our English Setter had never done anything on a hunting trip other than point at animals and pee on lots of trees.
However, one unlucky quail, surely sick or disabled, had been shot and then dropped at my Dad’s feet by our pointer– complete with some canine teeth marks. Lacking any hunt dressing skills whatsoever, my Dad proudly brought home the one and only kill he’d ever managed to bring down in his entire life of hunting and fishing, and stuck it in the freezer completely covered in both feathers and shotgun spray. Field dressing wasn’t his thing.
We forgot about it until we were cleaning out the freezer to move two years later. Wrapped in foil about the size of a large biscuit, the frozen feathered creature provided us with a laugh so utterly earth-shattering, we had to grip the counter to hold ourselves up.
I do believe that a hunting outing for my father was no more than a glorified walk in the woods. He also loved Wild Kingdom and Jacques Cousteau, and throughout his life binged Animal Planet shows.
His carpentry skills were no better
No one was less handy than Bobby Nimocks and he never met a hammer or screwdriver he got along with. To celebrate that lack of talent, he named himself “Mr. Magoo.” Given that no one in my family had any skills and I had taken shop in high school, I was the designated technician and carpenter. The year I left for college and came back, I saw that he had installed a new toilet paper roll holder at an unintentional yet frustrated dramatic slant. After that, my mom hired carpenters to come hang pictures.
My dad had a modest portfolio of magic tricks that he would use to entertain children and his grandchildren, his favorite being the “quarter behind the ear” a trick remembered fondly by my son, Charles as a teenager.
A little known fact about my Dad was that he was a remarkably adept ping pong player. Charles loved ping pong, too, and he was very talented. But not even he could beat my Dad at the game. He’d put some fancy topspin on that ball and it would come at you rapid-fire then bounce in some quirky unexpected direction.
I also remember coming home from the University of North Carolina on break after my freshman year and he took me to visit Sophie, a maid/caregiver for us when we were children. We loved Sophie and she had been an important part of our lives.
My Dad had been visiting her every single week for decades. And as she sat in her small home as a very old woman, she told me how kind my Dad had been to her and that she wouldn’t have food every day if it weren’t for him because he paid for Meals on Wheels for her for many years. He never told me about this.
From entertaining his family on long trips with stories about the golden egg, to fancy card tricks, and silly stories, my Dad lived a long and full life with few regrets and a lot to be grateful for.
Love you Daddy.