Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Reuben Glewwe - As I remember him

This eulogy was given by Rollin Glewwe at the funeral of his father, Reuben Benjamin Glewwe, twenty-six years ago in May.

     "Most who knew him called him Rube.  Mom called him Reuben.  Lois called him Daddy, to Elva he was Dad.  To his seven grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren he's Grandpa and to the couple of handfuls of foster children he and Mom raised, all and any of those names were used with affection.

     Many admired his gentle nature, more recognized his inner strength.  All remember his sense of humor.  He was a happy man.

     A few will remember him as a boy working in the celery fields at Emil Glewwe's.  Probably even fewer recall his days driving a hay wagon at the Stockyards.  But I'll bet nobody remembers the night he came home with a sack of freshly caught bullheads over his shoulder and a grin from ear to ear.

     Some here had their cars and trucks repaired at the R B Glewwe Motor Co. back in the 30's, and maybe a few were able to plunk down the $795 it took to drive away in a brand new Willy's that night.  He passed on his love of the motor car to his grandsons - all mechanics in their own right.  They still pick up and use some of Grandpa's hand-forged tools and more important, a lot of his hand-me-down knowledge and know-how.

     My dad was the strongest man I ever knew - as a boy his brother Ed says, "Rube never picked a fight but he sure settled a lot of them."  My high school coaches would often tell me how Dad could chin himself 25 times one-handed without touching the ground.

     I was never so proud as a lad when, my Dad while giving a Sunday school object lesson, bent two steel bars in half with his bare hands!  For years I put him right up there with Charles Atlas and Bronco Nygerski.  It was years later when I found the two bent bars of body solder in his shop that he told me his secret.

     And yet with all his strength, I never saw him raise his hand in anger or even his voice.  He did raise some strong onions one year however!  Dad had a rare inner strength that not only matched but exceeded his physical strength and it was to that inner strength that we all were drawn.

     Many of Dad's friends will remember him as Minnesota Highway Department's District Stock Supervisor - a job that entailed a great deal of traveling, keeping track of all the equipment, supplies, fencing, paint, signs, bridges and what-not that the department owned.

     Several will recall the exhaustive time and motion studies and standards he undertook in that job and the certificates of merit and the plaudits he received when he retired after more that 30 years of service.

     Today as I travel to those same shops throughout the state in my business, I am constantly reminded that Dad was there ahead of me by the friendly handshakes and the inquiries as to his health and whereabouts.

     But a little known fact about my Dad - one that his office at home will attest to - is that he really would have rather have been a postmaster.  A maze of nooks, cubbyholes and crannies line the wall - each one stuffed with the letters, papers, notes and memorabilia that represent in a small way the many facets of Dad's life.  In one we might find the plans to one of the many custom-built doll houses he constructed from scratch for his daughters, grand-daughters and nieces.

     In another a character of a cow that he would turn out on the jigsaw by the dozen.  In still another, we would discover the minutes, records and bank books of the Oak Hill Cemetery board on which he served on for 20 years.  Looking further, we might discover the notes and plans for the many remodeling and construction projects he undertook on his and Mom's home as well as Lois' , Elva's and mine, the last being an entire apartment in my house which he built in the summer of 1982, just 4 short years ago.

     Yet Dad was more that a master builder.  He also was a master writer and historian.  Faithfully for the past 47 years he has recorded the daily family history from the number of runny noses his great-grandchildren had last week to the number of runs the Twins had last night.
     Yes Dad kept the records.  In fact the IRS used to have their new agents audit him just to show them what the words "good record keeping" means.  He also kept a remarkable memory for the people he met and loved and that includes all of us here today.

     This memory enabled him to recall the marvelous yarns and stories that have kept us laughing for the past 81 years and I'm sure I'll catch myself retelling those stories and reliving those memories for the rest of my life.

     I could go on talking about my best friend but I would rather have each of you stand and put your hand as Dad would have - shake the hands of those around you and call them by name or introduce yourself as Dad would have and smile.

     And Dad, as we shake hands here today in your memory, we just know that the next hand you shake will be the Lord's.

Reuben Benjamin Glewwe ~ 14 Aug 1904 - 09 May 1986