My grandpa passed away this last weekend at the age of 81. As weird or morbid as it may sound, it came at a good time. Our whole family was able to be up here in Okanogan with my Grandma, and it was simply his time to go. I had hoped to see him before leaving for Africa, just one last time, but as he hadn’t been doing very well for a while I had said my goodbyes back in the summer before leaving for Texas.
(Photos taken and edited and used without permission – by my sister Kaarin)
He was a great man. One of the things that stood out during the funeral yesterday was his life of service. He joined the Air Force near its inception, worked for the Department of Transportation his whole following career, and served as Okanogan’s volunteer fire chief for 30 years.
He touched a lot of lives, mentored a lot of young people, and fixed untold numbers of vehicles. He was an inventor, a master hunter, ingenious mechanic, and community builder. There wasn’t a service club in town that he wasn’t a member of I don’t think.
Some of my favorite memories revolve around his including me in trips to his various clubs. Lunch with Kiwanis, coffee with the ‘boys,’ barbecuing with the fly fishing club, and hunting with the family.
I loved his stories, the man lived an outrageous life that was belied by his quiet and hardworking demeanor. From sharing meals with wolves in the Alaskan wilderness to melting the front of a Cadillac with a self-mounted afterburner, my Grandpa could top most stories simply by having lived the life he led.
I’m gonna miss your stories Grandpa, your lessons and the smell of your pipe. Most of all I think I’ll miss your laugh, and making you laugh (he had the most epic belly laugh you’ve heard). I’ll miss summers at your house and hanging out in your garden. I’ll miss building stuff and shooting stuff and riding along on your adventures. Thanks for everything Art, I’m glad you were my Grandpa.