Grandpa was born on December 12, 1916. He would have turned 95 this year.
He leaves behind his wife, Dorothy, his 3 children, his 12 grandchildren, and I lost count of the great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. He amazingly managed despite his age to not lose a single one of his blood descendants during his lifetime. Many in-laws yes, but none of his children or their children or their descendants.
Grandpa was born with a cleft palate which complicated his life but never got in his way. He worked as an architect for most of his life, and "tinkered" as he called it with his vehicles for most of his retirement. Grandpa never stopped being sweet and trusting, and he managed to mentally stay 20 years old up until the end, full of good humor and cheer.
He and Grandma raised 3 children in a converted barn in Johnson City, TN. Their daughter still lives there and their younger son lives on the other side of the state line in Boone, NC. Their eldest, my father, lives in AZ. Ray and Dorothy moved there to live near him in 2000.
Grandma and Grandpa played a large role in our daughter's lives, spending time with them and otherwise teaching them. As Grandpa's hearing was failing daughter the younger became the only person he could reliably hear and understand, until she got older and her voice left the magic range that he could hear.
I don't have many pictures of Grandpa (all of the Stern family albums are with my dad) but what I found tells the story quite well.
Christmas 2005. That's my mom and daughter the older with my grandparents. It was the first Christmas Chris was with us.
I last saw him in April; his failing health was a driving force behind me going on Chris's business trip with him. I at least got to see him before he said his last goodbye.
So now I'm going to have a few fingers of Woodford Reserve and remember Grandpa the way he would want me to. I think this song says it best: