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.
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.