My grandfather died on Friday. He was ninety years old. My uncle Larry wrote in the Peoria Star-Journal:
Born November 22nd, 1915 in rural Yates City, Illinois to Winfield and Till “Tillie” Ware he married Helen Louise Pullen on August 29th, 1941 in Peoria. He was preceded in death by his wife, Helen, a sister, Mildred, and one daughter, Mary Helen. He worked at R.G. Letourneau (later WABCO) as a machinist from 1940 to 1979. He served in the United States Navy from 1945 to 1946. He enjoyed hunting, traveling and reading but most of all his dear friends and family.
Whirl and I spent much of this past week in Peoria with my family. We attended the wake, the funeral and the internment. I last visited Grandpa shortly before my injury when Whirl and I helped to prepare his home for sale following Grandma’s death.
I spoke at Grandma’s funeral. I wanted to speak at Grandpa’s. I could not rouse myself to do it. My dad, my uncles, my cousin Jackie—they spoke clearly and eloquently. I slipped into a quiet, simmering ire. As a boy I feared Grandpa. Tall and stern, he held you to a high level of expectation. He held those expectations in such a way that you instinctively did not want to disappoint him. You knew to do so would be wrong. As I grew up, I grew to know Grandpa. Fear matured into respect.
Grandpa combined quiet stoicism, hard work and self-discipline with the unwavering moral virtue of living for the sake of others—the venerable patriarch of our family. I love him very much. I will not forget the lessons his life—and now his death—have taught me.