Friday, May 13, 2011

Story Time.... One Of My Heroes

Isn't that such a classic sort of photo? Looks like it's from a magazine in the '40s or something?

Actually, that man is a bit of a hero of mind. I'm not sure how old he is in this photo, but that's Cloyce and his wife Cleora. Great names too, right?

Here they are as a young couple. Must be... just after the turn of the century? Cloyce was the son of a farmer in rural Ohio.

I think Cloyce proposed to Cleora when she was 16 or something ridiculously young.

Here they are years down the line, with their family.

My eye is drawn to the beautiful daughter in the back, and her handsome brother. More on them later. As you can see, military service runs in their family. Cloyce actually was in WWI and then was a chaplain in WWII. Looks like his son, Hal, was in the Navy. Can you imagine seeing BOTH WWI and WWII?

Cloyce was a pastor, a Methodist pastor, back in the days before they were known for being liberal. He pastored in the rural Midwest. The website of one of his churches describes the cabin church of under 40 people. As you can see in the first photo, he was a man who loved the Word of God.

There they are again, maybe in the 80's? Cloyce and Cleora were married over 50 years. Actually, I think they were married somewhere around 70 years. Talk about spending your life together...

Then there's this photo, from the 90's.

And that's me, the little middle-school dork on the right. Cloyce was my Great-Grandfather. In that photo he is 100 years old. Incredible, right? He was living in a nursing home by that time, but I have vivid memories of him at this age. When he turned 100 he was on some talk show. There's a photo of him meeting George Bush Sr. at some city event, and Great Grampa started kidding around and gave GW Sr. a hard time for forgetting Great-Grampa's birthday. So.... a personal birthday card was sent. Hah! In fact, a quick google search pops up the George Bush Presidential Library and a quote from his speech that day:

May I salute a man I just threw a horseshoe with, Cloyce ..., 97 years old. Boy, I hope I'm like that when I'm 97, and I bet the rest of you do, too.

What is most amazing to me is just how alive Great Grampa was at 100 years of age. He wasn't just waiting for time to pass, he was still living well. He was a story teller, a sweet man with such a legacy in his own past and among his own kids and grandkids. At 100 years of age he still got up every morning and an exercize bike while praying... for everything.

In fact, when the family gathered for Great Grandpa's 100th birthday party, he pulled aside my grandmother (that beautiful lady in that early photo) and her brother (the handsome young navy guy who also became a pastor and who I fondly remember as my Great Uncle Hal), and asked them for permission to remarry. REMARRY! At 100 years of age!

So, the lady in the above photo is my Great Grandfather's second wife, who was nearly 20 years his junior (which still makes her in her 80's!). I remember her telling the story of him coming around to hang out with her at their nursing home and eventually asking if she would, "be his beau." Isn't that adorable?

It blows my mind to think what my Grandpa lived through. Two World Wars, the Great Depression, cars, TV, and then the Internet taking over America, the invention of jazz and rock. When he was born the US wasn't 50 states and airplanes didn't exist..

I wish I knew more about my grandfather, but what I know and remember about him blows me away. 

They say that my my Great Grampa's last words were, "Cover me with dirt."
I love that. He seemed to go to death unafraid, unintimidated, and living right on....


Jaimie said...

Oh my goodness. So that bottom girl in the 3rd picture looks like this character Arya in HBO's Game of Thrones. I'm sure the actress has a name, but I dunno what it is. Spitting image.

This is an incredible post, dude. My great grandmother is still alive. She must be 95 or something... I come from a whole family of missionaries. (Sort of.)

yolanda said...

This is just lovely. And I remember you as a little girl way back when! Thanks so much for passing this on to Chris! I think we have some photos of you all I'll have to try to find.
Yolanda, Chris's wife.