Gene and I met shortly after his morning calendar. He came prepared; had read the previous interviews and was ready to fire with his answers.
Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A. "What do you call it when you are out in the sticks? A rural, remote location with a rocking chair, fishing pole and a glass of wine. Now this place MUST be somewhere near the water, a river, stream or lake, but preferably all three." However, "living on a private island with an air strip for my Gulfstream jet, a helipad, and a dock for my mega-yacht wouldn't be bad either."
Q. What is your greatest fear?
A. "Being incompetent. I am now adapting to be being a caregiver for my mom and I see the struggles she has to deal with. It is difficult to watch. I don't want to be considered useless, but in our society there is a stigma that as people become older they become useless. I am afraid of that."
Q. What is a trait you most deplore in yourself?
A. "My lack of energy to do everything I want to do."
Q. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
A. "Disloyalty and betrayal; but it's not in everyone. I also dislike aggressiveness and disrespect; I find it a sign of weakness."
Q. What is your greatest extravagance?
A. "Flying first class. When I traveled with my dog to Florida, the only way to bring him in the cabin of the plane was to ride first class. I got spoiled. I have a trip coming up and I am not taking a dog so I purchased a regular ticket, but I'm not sure I can handle that. I just might have to upgrade."
Q. What is your favorite journey?
A. "The 32 years I spent with my late wife."
Q. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
A. "Candor, because, to me, loyalty trumps candor. I'm just a big heart and think that one should be loyal and trustworthy."
Q. What do you dislike most about your appearance?
A. "My double chin and the bags under my eyes. It comes from my mom's side. My biological father was ACTUALLY quite good-looking."
Q. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
A. "Essentially.I say 'essentially' too much."
Q. What is your greatest regret?
A. "Not spending more time with my late wife."
Q. What or who was the greatest love of your life?
A. "My late wife Michaele."
Q. When and where were you happiest?
A. "Aside from the 32 years with my wife, the summers growing up that I spent with my grandpa in Wisconsin. Those were the best summers."
Q. Which talent would you most like to have?
A. "Musically, I have no talent, but I wish I did .Actually, anything artistic. I am a fan of the arts and I just don't have any talent, except maybe preforming arts. I could probably be a stand-up comedian."
Q. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would you like to be.
A. "As one of the founding fathers. I am fascinated with that time period. What an amazing time to live in."
Q. What is your most treasured possession?
A. "A 1927 football program of the Green Bay Packers v. New York Yankees. Most people these days don't even know there was a Yankees football team. The program was left to me by my grandfather who lived in Wisconsin. I have it framed hanging on my wall."
Q. What is your favorite occupation?
A. "Pro beach volleyball or surfing. Surfing and then pro beach volleyball." Later he amended his response: "Rodeo Clown."
Q. What is your most marked characteristic?
A. "Too much generosity. I generally give to a fault, especially when it comes to my grandkids."
Q. What do you most value in your friends?
Q. Who are your favorite writers?
A. "The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is one of my favorites. Grisham, of course, and Tom Clancy's Hunt for a Red October. It relates to what I did in the Navy."
Q. What is your favorite hero of fiction?
A. "Batman, but of course he is real. Superman is fake and he is technically an illegal alien. I wonder, would Trump kick him out?"
Q. Who are your heroes in real life?
A. "Winston Churchill, he was a man of integrity. Also, General MacArthur, Mother Theresa and Walt Disney."
Q. What do you most dislike?
A. "The sound of Styrofoam. And what's worse is that my grandkids know it, and chase me around the house whenever they get their hands on it."
Q. What is your greatest achievement?
A. "I invented, designed and built the International Space Station," he joked. On a serious note: "surviving crises in my life. Being a parenting grandparent and being a caregiver for my wife."
Q. How would you like to die?
A. "In my sleep."
Q. What is your motto
A. "I have three: The first one is by St. Francis of Assisi; 'Preach the gospel at all times, when necessary use words. Second: 'Certainty is an illusion.' And last, but certainly not least, 'Go Pack go!'"