October 30, 2014

Memories of My Granddad

One week ago today my Granddad, an incredible man to all who knew him, made his peaceful departure from this earth. He left behind a long legacy of merits, accolades, and accomplishments that accumulated over his 92 years of life; the most impressive in my opinion: simply being the best Granddad a girl could dream of. 

Having retired the year I was born, this was the only role I ever knew him to have, and much like his other endeavors, both personal and professional, he embraced it with a vitality unmatched by many. If there was an organization for Professional Grandparents, he would have been the President. Generous with his time, resources, and love, my granddad ensured that our lives were filled with many things that brought us joy. He beamed when the family would gather for reunions in the Keystone, Colorado condo he proudly purchased in 1975. He stood tall at each of his grandchildren's high school graduations and refused more than a few humble "thank you's" when we each went on to complete college educations with his aid. He loved being able to keep up with technology, learning to FaceTime before I did; and even throughout this past year, he was often the first to follow up on my LinkedIn updates. Granddad was a man for whom tardiness, trustworthiness, and neckties were not optional, but he had an infectious smile and gentle warmth that radiated even across the distance. 

But perhaps the most tangible way he touched our lives was through the hours he poured over his woodworking table in the basement, crafting colorful and intricate doll houses, puzzles, toy trunks, rocking horses, stables, cars, and most famously, individual Christmas ornaments for each member of the family, every year, for the past three decades. Each ornament is marked with the year it was made and the name of the recipient, although one could easily guess for whom they were intended, as he often drew his inspiration from significant moments in each of our lives that year.  In many ways, his ornaments have chronologically documented our individual histories: hobbies, school mascots, geographical locations, and even the logos from companies we've worked for are emblazoned on each of the individually cut, carved, and painted pieces of wood. 

It was obvious, from the amount of time and effort poured into each piece, that Granddad seemed to glean as much joy from completing each project as we did upon receiving them. I believe it is a combination of his passion and punctuality that kept him at that bench year after year, and why, I was hardly surprised to learn that he had already completed his ornaments for this upcoming season. What a wonderful gift it will be to unwrap the tissue paper this Christmas and reveal the final pieces for our collections. 

I know that I am truly blessed beyond measure to have been able to share so many years of memories with him, and his peaceful and gentle passing was an answer to prayer, but there is a deep void in my heart that will not be easily filled. While replaying the final conversation I shared with him, just the morning before his stroke, re-reading his handwritten notes, and looking at old photos help preserve his memory, there is a simple, and sudden sadness in my life, as one week ago the world lost an amazing man, a family lost a wonderful father, and a granddaughter lost her sweet Granddad. 
I love you and will miss you always. 

{all photos taken this past weekend before his memorial}














His obituary as it appeared on October 24, 2014 in the Hutchinson Newspaper:
(written and revised biannually, by the man himself, over the past 30 years)

Wayne Lowe, 92, died Oct. 23, 2014, at Thorne Care Center, Hutchinson. He was born June 11, 1922, in Garden City, to Denzil and Eufery (Gigot) Lowe.

He grew up in Hutchinson and was active in youth groups and Boy Scouts at Trinity Methodist Church. He graduated from Hutchinson High School in 1940, Spartan School of Aeronautics, Tulsa, Okla. in 1942, and Oklahoma University, Norman, in 1947. He served in the Army Air Corps in World War II and joined McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, St. Louis, Mo. in 1947. He earned a Master’s of Science Degree from Washington University, St. Louis, in 1956.

Wayne married Betty Ann Kane of St. Louis in April 1950. She died in Oct. of 1982. Wayne then married Polly Adair Anderson of Hutchinson in Oct. of 1983. She survives. Other survivors include: daughter, Constance Lowe of San Antonio, Texas; daughter, Judith Lowe Rubin and husband Bruce of St. Louis; son, Stephen Lowe and wife Charlene of Laguna Nigel, Calif.; stepdaughter, Judith Ontjes and husband Sam of Hutchinson; grandchildren, Wistar Holt Jr. and wife Janice, Katherine Holt, Allison Holt, Ryan Lowe, Hailey Fynaardt and husband Dan; step grandchildren, Joseph Ontjes and wife Angela, Laura Ontjes; step great-grandchildren, Emma, Amelia, and Clara Ontjes.

He retired from a 40-year career with McDonnell Douglas Corporation in St. Louis in 1987. He started as a design engineer on jet fighter aircraft, advancing to Program Manager of a number of military missile and space programs, and ending as Vice President, Deputy General Manager of McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co. He also participated in the establishment and management of the McDonnell Douglas Missile Production Facility in Titusville, Fla. from 1966 to 1969. He traveled widely with U.S. Government Representatives to NATO Countries and Allies in Asia and served as U.S. Representative on a NATO Committee meeting in Brussels. Wayne returned to Hutchinson to reside in 1989. 

He was an Elder at First Presbyterian Church, member of Oklahoma University College of Engineering Board of Visitors, President of Hutchinson Rotary Club and Rotary Multiple Fellow, Chairman of Hutchinson Hospital Board of Directors, President of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center Volunteers, member of its Board of Directors and its Space Works Board, board member of Prairie Dunes Country Club and Hutchinson Town Club, and Chairman of Wesley Towers Retirement Community Board of Trustees. Wayne enjoyed international travel to Europe, South America, and Russia, as well as ski trips to Colorado with friends and family, coffee and luncheons in Hutchinson, and the fellowship and camaraderie of the Rotary Club, and LADS Golf and Tennis Groups at Prairie Dunes Country Club.
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