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I wrote about my distaste for the State of the Union address last year at this time in a post here. This year is shaping up to be no less the embarrassing spectacle. Listening to the Sunday morning news shows yesterday, I heard that President Obama is planning to leave two seats empty, to which I say, “Good Start!” Maybe if they were all empty this sham would be recognized for what it is and it would be the last one we had to endure.
The quote to the right is from an article by Kevin D. Williamson, written for the National Review, titled Great Caesar’s Ghost. If you’re interested in reading it, I’ve linked it here. It’s a couple of years old, but still worthwhile.
The Easterday Construction family lost another member last week. Kathy Pearson succumbed to her cancer after a three year, protracted battle. She kept her spirits up until the end. She came to the visitation for my grandfather on December 7th, only a couple of weeks ago, and promised we would get together for lunch again soon. Sadly that didn’t happen.
Kathy was a fixture at Easterday Construction Co., Inc. for 38 years. KP to those of us in the office. When she retired at the end of 2014, she left a void that was impossible to fill. I gave some of her history with the company here in a previous post. That barely scratched the surface of the contributions she made.
History is a huge part of what was lost with her passing. Kathy remembered past projects nearly as well as I did in my tenure, but she also could tell me the history of projects before my time. She remembered past employees, subcontractors and suppliers, filling in gaps in things I had forgotten or never knew. She remembered phone numbers almost unerringly and served as a virtual rolodex when I would ask for a number or name that wouldn’t come to me. Long before it was “Ask Google” it was “Ask Kathy”.
Thank you to everyone that came to the visitation and or funeral on Monday. At 101, most of grandpa’s old friends have gone before him, but it was nice to see some of the new ones that he had made. It was nice to see the staff and aides from the nursing home and to know he’ll be missed there. I think for the most part he was one of the easier residents there. There were also a lot of children of old friends and others that remember knowing my grandfather as they grew up. Their effort in coming to attend was appreciated.
Also thanks to the Navy and the VFW for their contributions to the grave side service. The Navy’s flag ceremony was very moving and a wonderful tribute to my grandfather’s service to his country.
My mother asked me to say a few words at the funeral. It ended up being a bit impromptu and extemporaneous since it wasn’t decided until the last minute, but I have included the draft here for anyone interested. I went ahead and added what I could remember I added on the fly as well:
I’m doing this using notes from my phone… which my grandfather would find fascinating. He was always asking about it and I would show him the things it could do. At one point he said, “But it’s a phone, right? I never see you talk on it!” At one point we had him using the computer for email. He would call when he had a problem. You can just imagine how difficult it was to explain something over the phone to someone who didn’t know what a mouse was, a cursor was… scroll bars, etc.
My grandfather was a very special person. I’m blessed to have had him in my life this long. No one, including him, expected him to live to 101 so that has been a very special gift.
I am the oldest of three grandchildren. I believe he saw us all uniquely, and treated each of us as special. When Becky and I got together, she was treated as another grandchild. I believe the same was true of my sibling’s spouses. When great grandchildren came, they were also made welcome and loved unconditionally. I don’t think we could ask for better.
Part of the reason that Becky and I moved back to Indiana was to be closer to family. My grandparents never disappointed me in their joy of seeing me. When they were home, I would stop there at lunch. They made it clear that I was welcome that day, the next and the next… But they also made it clear they understood that I was making time for them and that they appreciated it. That never changed.
My grandfather taught me to fish and to shoot. He taught me to row a boat. And more importantly he taught me how to appreciate things. He got me up in the middle of the night to watch the first moon landing because it was an important event that I should witness. He taught me to appreciate a fresh baked doughnut as a reward for doing a good deed for an aging relative. He taught me to be frugal, but also to spend money on those who are important to me. And finally he taught me the value of relationships. I don’t think my grandfather ever knew a stranger. When he met someone they almost always left as his friend. For those of you fortunate enough to have met him, you know why.
My grandfather also taught me how to enjoy a good joke. For those of you who noticed Pluto on the casket, he was part of a running joke I had with my grandparents… that ran from when I was in high school. When I would visit, I would get that dog out of the toy bin and place him somewhere in the house. Since he was poseable, a lot of the time they would find him in a plant with his leg hiked! When I went off to college, my grandparents came to visit. A couple of days later, I noticed the Pluto had made it down to my place! From there he racked up a lot of mileage. When we lived in Georgia, he would appear when they passed through on the way to Florida. Then we would take him back when we visited them in Florida or Indiana. My grandmother referred to him as “That Durn’d Dog!” I thought it only fitting that Pluto make this last trip with Grandpa. I guess I get the last laugh… which he would appreciate.
My grandfather, William (Bill) Kerr Murphy, passed away Wednesday evening, November 25, 2015. He had struggled with pneumonia the last several years, but this last bout was too much for his heart and lungs to fight off. Thank you to all who have expressed condolences.
Grandpa was born in Pulaski County, Indiana on May 6, 1914. He was proceeded in death by his wife of 77 years, my grandmother, Wilma (100). He is survived by one daughter Jacquelin (Larry) Berger, two grandsons, Kevin (Rebecca) Berger and Korey Berger, one granddaughter, Kristine Eisenhour, and two great grandchildren, Kyanne and Kameron Eisenhour.
At 101, he had led a long and good life. He graduated from Winamac High School where he met his wife Wilma (Wolfe). They were married on his birthday (so he couldn’t forget their anniversary) in 1935. He taught school for a time and joked about seeing some of the students he had taught in the nursing home with him! During WWII, he worked as a radio operator at Kingsbury Munitions Plant in Kingsford Heights, Indiana. That job gave him deferment from military duty, but he later gave up that deferment to join the Navy. He ran the mechanics shop in Puerto Rico repairing diesel engines on many ships that had been damaged in the war effort by U-boats. His wife got seriously ill and he was allowed to return home to care for his family with an early discharge. He ran the Shell Station in Winamac for several years before continuing his education to become an auditor doing municipal audits for the Indiana State Board of Accounts. While living in Winamac, he served on the Town Board, including a stint as President. Nearing retirement, he moved to Culver and had a home on the channels in Venetian Village, as well as a winter home in Lakeland, FL. Grandpa was a member of the Winamac Masonic Lodge and of the Scottish Rite for more than 50 years. He was also a lifetime member of the VFW.
I have a lot of good memories of all of my grandparents (many of which I shared here) and my Grandpa Murphy in-particular. Grandpa taught me to shoot and to fish. He took me along on Saturday mornings when he helped my grandmother’s uncle down in Monticello. He taught me that doing that good deed, and the hard work involved, was ample excuse for a couple of morning doughnuts!
Grandpa loved to collect antiques and he would spend hours stripping and refinishing those pieces. I spent many Saturdays with him as he worked on these. For most of that time I was too young to help, but I was there to see the time and effort that went into them. It was always impressive to see the progress as the pieces moved through the process of stripping, staining, and coat after coat after coat of varnish until the finish was like glass. We have several of those in our home including a secretary, a teacher’s desk, and a lawyer’s conference table. Becky was at an auction which my grandparents also attended. She had bid on a secretary, but it quickly went out of her budget. They consoled her afterwards and told her that the secretary he had finished was hers. The teacher’s desk is one of the old ones with the hinged top with storage underneath. It has a doweled fence around the top at the front that he painstakingly rebuilt. The lawyer’s table is now our dining room table. He found it in the basement of a courthouse when he was doing an audit. They were going to throw it out, but he got a janitor to help him carry it out of the basement and strap it to the top of his Pinto hatchback! I can only imagine what that looked like going down the road. He said that the knot tying he learned in the Navy served him well that day.
Most of his antique refinishing was done in his garage when my grandparents lived in Winamac. They had a Wheel Horse riding mower that I drove around the yard when I wasn’t helping in the garage. A few years ago I went by the old house and couldn’t believe how the yard and house had shrunk!
During his final years at the nursing home, I would make a point to visit him several times each week. Sometimes only two times, but sometimes every week night after work. I would try and get there before 6:00 pm to see him down to supper. I would listen as he told me about his day and would share what I was doing. Often I would leave there to go to a Town Council, Plan Commission or other meeting and he would encourage me to, “Keep them in line!”.
Grandpa was always fond of Colloquialisms… but he tended to shorten them. Having grown up with them, I was familar with most of the ones he used, but it was always funny to see him use one in front of the young aides at the nursing home. Not that they would have recognized them anyway, but when he shortened them, they made even less sense. One of the common ones he would use was, “I’m nervous as a cat!”, which was a shortened version of “I’m nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs!”. Not quite the same thing without the second part of the sentence, but it made sense to him and I knew what he meant… Some of the others were shortened to eliminate the four-letter-words or other imagery that were part of the punchline. For that reason I’ll skip quoting them here, but again, without the entire saying, they didn’t make a lot of sense to the uninitiated.
Grandpa was blessed with a long life and good health and good humor for most of it. He celebrated his 100th birthday with a party at the Culver VFW where he was doted on by friends, family and scores of acquaintances. Throughout his life, Grandpa never knew a stranger and nearly everyone that met him left as a friend. The Director of the State Board of Accounts, as well as several field examiners, attended the event and presented Grandpa with a certificate signed by the governor. Grandpa joked that as examiners they were just there to make sure they should still be sending the pension check.
Grandpa spent his last days in Miller’s Merry Manor in Culver where he had many residents and staff that he counted as friends.
Visitation will be noon to 2:00 pm on Monday, December 7, 2015 at the Wesley United Methodist Church in Culver with services to follow immediately in the Church at 2:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the Culver VFW or the Scottish Rite. The Odom Funeral Home in Culver is in charge of the arrangements.