Gramps adored Grandma. Anyone could see it – even at the very end. Once, in the CV-ICU at Glenwood Hospital during the last week of his life, a bunch of family members were standing around visiting with him. He turned to Grandma and said, “They can go” and motioned us out of the room. He wanted to be alone with her.
Grandpa & Grandma on their honeymoon
Gramps had an amazing sense of humor. About to undergo open heart surgery, he and Grandma were explaining the procedure to my cousin Mary. The anesthesia was starting to kick in. Grandma explained that they would crack his ribs open and spread them apart, and Gramps chimed in, “And then they’ll put barbeque sauce alllll over me!” and promptly went unconscious. He was in the hospital in ICU for a long time after that, following a complication during the surgery. For a while, we were sure those would be his last words. He proved us wrong.
Also before that surgery, Dad was sitting with Gramps and they were talking. He told Dad the story of walking to work during the depression and walking by his family’s business. His father was being evicted from his store, and Gramps was unable to stop and help him, knowing that if he were late for work, he would be fired. This memory still haunted him more than 60 years later.
Gramps had a box of saltine crackers with a faucet attached. He said it was where he got his “cracker juice.”
Gramps loved the environment and said it was our obligation – even a Biblical obligation – to take care of the planet. His work with the Black Bayou NWR and the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana is part of his immense legacy.
Gramps was so proud of his Eagle Scouts – my three brothers. He wrote poems for each of them when they received their awards.
Gramps loved to see me sing in the church choir. He also loved to hear me sing with Dad.
Gramps holding me as a baby
Gramps loved computers and wanted to be on the cutting edge as much as possible. He was fascinated with my iPod and iPad. He once called my iPad my “play pretty.”
Gramps loved to take pictures. He loved to see pictures we took wherever we went, always praising anything that was even a little bit artistic about our snapshots. He taught me how to use his darkroom and what the different chemicals did. He is one of the reasons I was interested in chemistry from a young age.
Gramps was an Army hero – a proud World War II veteran – a Bronze Star recipient. He loved to tell us stories from World War II and show us artifacts from his time there.
Grandma and Gramps loved to travel. From missions trips to Africa to Caribbean cruises to traveling the Netherlands, they got to see a lot. Gramps loved sharing all the photos and slides he made during their trips and teaching us the new words he learned when he was away.
Another large piece of Gramps’ legacy is the group of adults he taught to read in adult literacy classes. Reading and writing was very important to him, and he wanted to offer the chance to read and write to others who thought they never could.
Gramps was an artist – a graphic designer by trade. When my Dad and his brothers were little, they would walk through Sears or another store and Gramps would point out the packages he’d designed. He even used my Dad’s baby brother as a model for Sears brand barbells!
Gramps wouldn’t go to church without a coat and tie, if not a suit. Dad explained that he came a long way from the generation before him – at his parents’ house, they wore a coat and tie to breakfast!
For his 70th birthday, Gramps went parasailing in the Gulf of Mexico.
Gramps was an amazing son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and friend. He was an amazing Christian, steward, activist, and teacher. He loved his family, the beach, crabbing, putting random objects on his nose, meeting new people, the United Methodist Church, beer, peanuts, art, birds, and life. He would tell you that he is WAY behind on his fishing. We bury Gramps’ body tomorrow, but his spirit is already somewhere else doing incredibly cool things. We’ll miss him like crazy.