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A Personal Note: Rest in Peace, Grandpa

I mentioned in passing in May that my grandpa has been having some health problems. Last week, after a few months of slow improvement, his health took a turn for the worse. After about a week in hospice care, he passed away last Tuesday night at 84.

This is one of the best pictures of my grandpa and grandma, even if I do look a little shifty-eyed 🙂

Because I’m the family writer, I was drafted to help work on the text that will be featured on the back of the program at his visitation this afternoon. In sprucing up the draft my dad sent me, I learned some things about my grandpa that I never knew.

Here’s what we wrote:

LeRoy grew up on the family farm in Lawler, Minnesota and graduated from McGregor High School. On his 18th birthday, LeRoy joined the United States Army Air Force and proudly served in the Philippines from 1946 to 1948 where he participated in missions to photograph the South Pacific. After a year serving on a base in the United States, LeRoy was discharged and began working as a construction electrician.

LeRoy met his future wife, ElDora, through mutual friends. The two spent time getting to know each other during weekend visits to Gordon and Dolores Jensen’s lake home before they were married in 1957. Their daughter Joyce was born in 1958 and son John followed a year later. After traveling around Minnesota and Wisconsin for work, the family settled in New Brighton, where LeRoy and ElDora’s third son, Gary, was born. LeRoy landed a job with Honeywell as a maintenance electrician and worked there for 28 years before retiring in 1990.

In his free time, LeRoy was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed fishing for muskies at the family cabin on Bone Lake, deer hunting with his brother Harvey, maintaining his yard and gardens and feeding birds in his backyard. He especially enjoyed watching his three grandchildren, Kimberly, Jennifer and Kevin grow into adults.

My dad wrote that last line, and it makes me tear up every time I read it.

I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with my grandparents as a kid. We lived less than a half our away, so we saw them all the time. I didn’t realize until I was older that this kind of relationship can be rare, especially for families who are spread far apart.

One of my favorite recent memories of my grandpa was getting to share a love of books. It wasn’t until recently that I started to read the kinds of books he tended to like — history, biography, and current affairs. This Christmas, I bought him a copy if Eric Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts, and I loved being able to talk about it with him when he finished it. We had some disagreement a few Christmases ago about the literary quality of Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue, but I think we ended up agreeing and enjoying more books than we disagreed on.

I can’t come up with a way to conclude this post, other than to say that my grandpa was loved and will be missed so very, very much. Thanks in advance for your kind thoughts.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • bermudaonion(Kathy) July 22, 2012, 7:31 am

    I am so so sorry for your loss. I’m sure your granpa was special person and I know he was very proud of you.

  • Vasilly July 22, 2012, 7:56 am

    Oh, Kim. I’m so sorry about your grandpa. It sounds like he was an amazing person.

  • Caitie F July 22, 2012, 7:58 am

    I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds like he was a wonderful and you had a very special relationship. He must have been very proud to have such a wonderful granddaughter. You and your family are in my thoughts.

  • angela July 22, 2012, 10:19 am

    I am so sorry for your loss, and I am glad you were able to have a relationship with him that leaves you with many memories.

  • Aarti July 22, 2012, 10:35 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Kim. I feel like as we get older, we are able to share so much more with the parents and grandparents in our lives. I’m so glad you got to spend time with your grandfather as two adults, and I hope that you continue to enjoy the books that he might have liked.

  • Joy Weese Moll July 22, 2012, 12:38 pm

    I’ve become kind of known in the family as the obituary writer. Not really something one wants to be experienced in. But I do find that it’s a healing and centering task in those few days between a death and a funeral when the world seems off-kilter.

    I love your tribute to your Grandpa and especially liked that you were able to relate to him as an adult reader. What a splendid gift that you and your Grandpa gave to each other. Hugs!

  • Kristen M. July 22, 2012, 2:08 pm

    I got to spend a lot of time with my grandpa when I was young but now we live quite far away and I don’t think he really even thinks of me as an adult. You make me want to change that. I’m sorry for your loss and will send warm thoughts to you and your family today.

  • Jeanne July 22, 2012, 3:41 pm

    Adding my condolences. It seems to me additionally saddening but also additionally healing (at least eventually) to be known as the family writer and asked to write things like that. Nicely done, too.

  • Florinda July 22, 2012, 4:45 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear of your loss, Kim. This is a wonderful tribute to him and the close relationship you were so fortunate to have.

  • Anna (Diary of an Eccentric) July 22, 2012, 5:10 pm

    So sorry for your loss. Sounds like your grandpa was a great man. ((HUGS))

  • Kailana July 22, 2012, 6:01 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss, but what a wonderful post!

  • Stephanie July 22, 2012, 7:50 pm

    I am so sorry, Kim. I hope you’re enjoying time with your family and happy memories during this painful time.

  • Gwen July 22, 2012, 9:26 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss.

    I was really close to my grandparents too, so you mentioning how lucky you were really hit home. I didn’t realize just how special they were or how lucky I was to be so close to them until they were gone.

    Color me jealous that you got to share Eric Larson with him. My grandpa and I shared a love of Fitzgerald, but Larson would have been interesting!

  • Maphead July 22, 2012, 10:07 pm

    I’m also feel sorry to read of your recent loss. Your well-crafted post honors his memory.

  • Susan Kushner Resnick July 23, 2012, 6:44 am

    My condolences. I’m sure he’d be as proud of your obit and tribute as he was of everything he watched you accomplish in person.

  • Suzanne July 23, 2012, 7:41 am

    My deepest condolences on your family’s loss.

  • softdrink July 23, 2012, 10:24 am

    I’m sorry to hear about your grandpa, Kim.

  • Emma @ Words And Peace July 23, 2012, 3:40 pm

    Sorry for your loss. with my prayer, for you and your family

  • Jenny July 23, 2012, 5:36 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Kim. I hope you and your family are doing okay.

  • Teresa July 23, 2012, 6:01 pm

    Kim, I’m so sorry about your loss. And how lovely that you’ll have those memories of sharing books with him.

  • jenn aka the picky girl July 23, 2012, 9:28 pm

    Beautiful tribute, but I’m so sorry you had to write it.

  • jennygirl July 24, 2012, 7:01 am

    I am very sorry for your loss. A wonderful tribute indeed and cherish those memories. Support and love to you and your family.

  • Meg July 24, 2012, 8:38 am

    Thinking of you and your family, Kim, and am so very sorry for your loss. Your grandpa sounds like a wonderful man, and you’re right: it can be rare to have loving, close relationships with our grandparents, especially when we don’t live nearby. Big, big hugs to you.

  • Andi (@estellasrevenge) July 25, 2012, 3:48 pm

    This is a beautiful post, Kim. My heart goes out to you for your loss. I know how it is to lose a grandparent with whom you’re close and get to see often. It’s a relationship to cherish, that’s for sure.

  • sassymonkey July 26, 2012, 7:45 am

    I am so sorry for your loss Kim.

  • Colleen August 2, 2012, 8:06 am

    I am sorry for your loss, Kim. Well done on the lovely tribute to your grandfather.