For fathers and sons, there really is no better way to bond than a game of catch in the yard.
Greg Papa knew that.
His wife, Kelly Lamson, said she’d look out her kitchen window and spot him and their sons tossing the hardball as they formed a triangle on the grass.
“His favorite thing in life was spending time with our boys,’’ she said.
Papa, who was born in Texas and moved to Omaha as a child, died of a heart attack Nov. 21. He was 46.
Papa and his wife met in the 1970s when he was a year ahead of her at St. Pius X/St. Leo School. Their sons — 11-year-old Alex and 9-year-old Luke — are students there.
He taught his sons to play baseball and even set up a batting cage in the basement so they could practice hitting whenever they wanted. He and his boys followed pro baseball, and Papa was a big Cincinnati Reds fan.
He was an engineer at Hewlett Packard and left for work by 6 each morning so he could finish in time to pick up his boys after school.
On some days they would head out golfing or hit balls at a driving range.
Bill Lamson, his brother-in-law, said Papa was a skilled golfer who shot in the low 70s. Lamson said that even though Papa always won when they played, he never got cocky and would compliment him on his shots. “He never made you feel like you were having a bad round,’’ he said.
Sometimes Papa would golf in bare feet or sandals, showing his easy-going approach to life.
He loved sports, and swam the breast stroke while attending Creighton Prep.
Papa graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with an engineering degree.
He started playing darts in college and got hooked on the game. He practiced in his basement and played on a darts team that won city championships in recent years.
Papa was known for his upbeat personality and constant smile and was a favorite among his wife’s extended family, his brother-in-law said.
Papa suffered a mild heart attack four years ago, his wife said. After that, he began running regularly and riding a stationary bike in the basement. He began eating more fruits, oatmeal and other healthful foods. His wife said he had been in good health.
Lamson said his brother-in-law appreciated life and showed that in all he did, whether it was playing catch with his boys or cheering for his favorite team.
“He took advantage of every day,’’ he said.
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