MINIS COLUMN: Calvin Coolidge DuPont never hesitated so share his gift of humor with those he met

Calvin Coolidge DuPont was just a “bundle of love,” says Sharon Miller, his daughter. He never hesitated to share his laughter, smiles and expressions of love with everyone.

Being considerate of others was a value DuPont learned early in life and never forgot.

DuPont, who was born in May 1929 and died April 17, grew up near his church, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian on Wappoo Road in West Ashley.

As a boy, he would arrive early Sunday mornings to start a fire to warm the church for those arriving for services later.

“He had always been a servant there,” Miller says.

While his namesake, president Calvin Coolidge, was called “Silent Cal” for his quiet demeanor, no one would ever attribute that moniker to Calvin Coolidge DuPont.

Speak with anyone who knew DuPont, and they will tell you about the many humorous things he would say.

Favorites included: “I’m going to pray for you. You need the prayers and I need the practice.” “Welcome to St. Andrew’s. Get your wallet out.” “God loves you and I’m trying.”

DuPont, a retired missile handler who operated a crane at the Charleston Naval Weapons Station, exhibited his trademark sense of humor even when talking about the serious work he did, Miller says. When people asked him about his work, he use to feign fear and nervousness while describing it. He was so good at that, those listening to him often would become jumpy.

While he made light of his duties at the weapons station, he was excellent at his job, Miller says. “They say he could make that crane dance.”

“If he’d wanted to, he could have been a comedian,” Miller says.

Nick Gainey, DuPont’s friend of 30 years, agrees. Whenever he walked into a room, people would start laughing.

“The things he would say would be ordinary, but he would make them extra funny with his mannerisms, and his pronunciation and his body language. I travel all over the country fishing and I’ll say (to people): I got this old guy at my church, and if you meet him, you will be laughing in five minutes.

“He belonged to my Sunday school class,” Gainey says. “He didn’t behave much differently on Sundays than the rest of the week. He knew a thousand jokes, axioms and inspirational passages and memorized some several sentences long. I would always ask him for one of his ‘DuPontisms.’ ”

Anyone who did not have the opportunity to meet DuPont missed an important person, Gainey said.

“He was a little rough around the edges, but he was a gentle giant. He’s going to be missed.”

DuPont, says the Rev. Spike Coleman, his pastor, was the king of the one-liners.

When DuPont met his granddaughter’s future husband, who told him he worked for Berkeley Electric, DuPont said, “More power to you,” without missing a beat.

He used the one-liners to make people laugh and to put them at ease, Coleman says.

“Once you met him, you never forgot him. He was a very tender, sensitive person, but very funny,” Coleman says. “He cared for people and had a way of letting you know that. ... Sometimes through humor, but sometimes he would put his hand on your shoulder and look you in the eye and say whatever he needed to say.”

Of the many sayings and passages DuPont collected throughout his life, Miller says she always will remember the one she found tucked into the front of his Bible, she says.

“Kindness is when a little boy asks for a piece of bread and you give him a piece of toast with butter. But loving kindness is when you add the jam.”

Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.