Funerals and other happy times

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

No, funerals are not happy times but as my pastor says we are all terminal so we should make the best of it. Last week I grieved at the funeral of the wife of my best friends in life. Dan was a compatriot from country grades through high school until we both went off into the Air Force. As so often happens he found a pretty young lady, a perfect fit to become his wife, near the airbase where he was stationed in New Mexico. His wonderful wife, they lived here locally, suffered from the ravages of cancer and knew that the end was coming near so was involved with planning her own funeral. She had asked their very capable choir director to put together happy action-packed songs for the congregation to sing together. The two pastors that participated both had life affirming messages but the congregation singing together was for me the highlight of our celebration of Ruth’s life.

Late in my own mother’s life Grannie Annie and I used to tease her a bit about how many funerals she seemed to attend. Now living in our eighties we have come to understand that is our friends that are passing so often and we feel compelled to attend, mix with their families and say a final good bye.

In my senior year in high school I was somehow voted in as class president. Departing into the Air Force shortly after graduating as the last class in old building on West 1st street. Grannie was in the first class to graduate from the new (present) high school building. Anyhow being away for twenty-five years I attended class reunions but had no role in planning Class of ’55 events. Retiring from the military in 1980 we moved back to the family farm and somehow the responsibility of planning and doing class events fell into my lap. Actually keeping track of my former high school classmates has been a pleasure.

Back to the thought of attending funerals I can report that of the 127 of us that graduated together 69 have passed into the beyond. That number isn’t very accurate because there are at least three of which I have no record of where they lived or have done in life after graduation.

Accomplishments are interesting to me. One of us, Louis Dickenson, became a medical doctor to serve his fellow man but died at age 37 – too early in life! They have spread across our nation and at least two live on the East Coast and a like number in the far west. Pat Murphy married a young man that became an engineer and has his name on several patents that made the space shuttle the success that program was. The draft was still in effect and at least a third of the males in the class and one lady served in the military even through the Vietnam War. At least two of us served long enough to retire. Another interesting fact is that about a third of the class stayed and lived productive lives in the local area. I suspect that figure is about the percentage of high school graduates that stay in the local area even today.

Stories: Chauncy Dunn served a tour in the Navy. When he got out he was looking for something to do and discovered that our space effort needed personnel to man ships to provide communications worldwide to spacecraft in orbit. Chauncy volunteered and eventually served at Cape Canaveral in charge of critical timing of space launches including the many delays that we observed.

John T. Harris Jr took over management of McCook’s iconic DeGroff Store and expanded it to the nationwide chain that we knew as “Lots to Love”.

In a little more spicy pursuit one of our female classmates married and after children things got a little rocky. She divorced and moved to a western state where she entered into a series of marriages, short time, then divorced taking as much settlement as the court would allow. She even attracted her daughter into that practice. After something like twenty marriages a judge decreed that she stop the practice under threat of a prison sentence. Hmmm! Enough.

For the past 26 seasons McCook has hosted an event we created and now call the Buffalo Commons. The 27th Annual Buffalo Commons Storytelling and Music Festival will be held on June 14th –16th, 2024. Don’t miss these fun-filled events: Historic Fox Theatre stage show, dinner cabaret, building and stained-glass tour, art shows, museum melodies and memories, open mic opportunities, poetry sharing, Kids Fest and much more! Local talent will participate plus featured guest artists will be Paul Strickland and a musical group the Stillhouse Junkies.

For a taste of how the event works come to the Bieroc Café this evening (April 2nd) from 7—8 pm to listen to local Christian romance author and self-proclaimed coffee addict, pickleball enthusiast, storyteller and friend, Jennifer Rodenwald how she came to write and be published. You too may have a chance to comment on your own experience.

That is how I saw it.

Dick Trail

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