This past Saturday, your great-Grandpa Benz passed away in his sleep. He wasn’t a picture of health but the timing was still a bit of a surprise.
But we want you to know him still, because he’s a piece of your history and you carry part of him in your DNA.
He was incredibly ornery. Always telling jokes, a lot of which weren’t funny. Always looking to start some trouble.
Here he is in a water fight that he started with us kids. (In the picture is me, my cousin Melissa, and your aunt Stefani).
Here he is picture with just one example of the kinds of presents he enjoyed. Later in life he got a chicken that sang and danced. He loved keeping that thing playing to annoy the kids and grandkids. He loved annoying us so much, he ended up mailing me a singing and dancing chicken while I was in college. That chicken ended up in the freezer for a while, just to keep it quiet. He couldn’t have been happier about that.
He was born in a small town in Illinois and except for when he fought in WWII with the Marines lived within a few miles from that small town. In the picture above, he is holding a mandolin that he played in a family band as a kid.
Grandpa and grandma met and married young. He was nineteen, she was fifteen. I don’t have their wedding picture but will add it later. They lived and loved together for 63 faithful years. Both of them taught Sunday school at their church. They were always most content to just be at home together.
Grandpa loved his family. He loved to have us all under his roof for the holidays or anytime. Each visit ended with him wondering when he would get to see us again.
So many things I don’t have pictures of. Like how my dad and uncle and grandpa would head out to the woodshed and begin making all sorts of things for the rest of us to enjoy. He made me a vanity when I was a kid and as soon as we find a place for it in the house, it will hopefully come to stay. Or the go-cart that he kept up and running for us to tear around his backyard on. Or fishing in the pond that he kept stocked with catfish. Or driving his big tractor around the back.
My Grandpa helped is a big reason I feel so rich with memories and joy when I think about my childhood.
My saddest thought is that you won’t get to meet each other face to face and he won’t get to hold you in your tiny-baby state. But he loved you and was so excited about you coming into the world.