Monday, October 20, 2008

A couple of things

My Grandpas Obit:

Adelbert H. "Ade" Haffner
HAFFNER, Adelbert H. 'Ade' January 20, 1925 - October 9, 2008

Adlebert H. Haffner "Ade" was born in Hosmer, S.D., Jan. 20, 1924. His parents came west in 1927 and settled in Hillsboro. He graduated from Hillsboro High School in May of 1941. He served his country during World War II in the 18 Specials US Naval C.B. battalion in the South Pacific.

In 1946 he married Dorothy Schwartz and they had three children; son, Mark L. and daughters, Elisa Ann and Rose Marie.

During the '50s and early '60s he and his wife owned and operated Bill's Ice Cream store in Beaverton where he won several awards for premium ice cream.

Ade went to work as a letter carrier at the Beaverton Post Office in 1962 and retired from there in 1984. While at the Post Office he served three terms as president of the local union and served many years as shop steward.

He was a charter member of Oak Hills Christian Reformed Church and served terms as elder and deacon and was active in the choir for many years.

His passions in life besides God - family and country were classical music, opera, football, and chocolate.

He is survived by his wife, Dorothy; daughters, Elisa Ann Hickman and Rose Marie Newman; sister, Aurelia Wilken; and grandsons, Nathan Newman and Blake Hickman.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008, in Oak Hills Church, 2800 NW 153rd in Beaverton.

Remembrances to: Oak Hills Church Benevolence Fund.

Arrangements Entrusted to: Springer And Son Aloha Funeral Home 503-356-1000

The Text of my Eulogy from Sunday:

Thanks Nathan, and thanks to all of you who took the time to join my family today.

My Grandpa was someone who was always prepared, very prepared. I’ll never forget when he told me in the hospital that he needed me to get his electric razor to him - surprising in and of itself - but then he told me that he needed the small brush that came with it because he cleaned his razor on Wednesday and Saturday. Now as you can probably tell, I don’t use my electric razor very often, and to be honest with you my reaction was something like “you’re supposed to clean those things?”. So needless to say, this impressed me.

Much the preparations he made were done to make things easier for his family and the things he did to plan this event are no different. In many ways Nathan and I had a very easy task. The fact that he took the effort to write his own obituary instead of using the format the Oregonian provides made it easy to touch on the areas of his life that he wanted examined.

His main passions in life: God, Family and Country are passions that I share, so I’ll be focusing on those this afternoon.

But first I feel like I should tell you a little about my life. I’m Ade’s youngest Grandson, my Mother is his eldest daughter Elisa. As many of you know my parents divorced in my early teens and during much of my life I haven’t had a healthy relationship with my father. Because of that my Grandpa was as much of a father figure to me as anyone. He did more than anyone – anyone to support my Mom and I. He gave us his time, his prayers and we lived with my Grandparents for several months when we had nowhere else to go. I’ve learned what the word “family” means by observing him. I asked my Grandma if there was anything that she wanted Nathan or I to mention today and she said two things “tell people he was a super husband, and a super father”. And I certainly will tell you that he was a super husband, and father and the best Grandfather.

I believe that you can measure the impact someone has had in your life by how much they’ve affected the way you see the world. I really knew that my wife Amber was the one for me because as we got to know each other I began to see certain things differently. Those of us who follow Christ can attest that once we found faith in him, we saw the world differently. There is nobody else on this earth who has affected how I see the world more significantly than my Grandfather. One of the things he has passed on to me is his faith.

The book of James tells us that “faith without deeds is dead” and I can tell you that by that metric my Grandpa’s faith was vibrant. One of the ways my Grandpa lived out his faith was by connecting with other people. I’d like to do an exercise – will anyone who has ever received a note – or a card – or a joke from my Grandfather stand as you are able? This is what my Grandpa was all about. This was a man that, even during difficult times, felt deeply loved by God – just look at the lyrics of the hymn he picked for us to sing today:

“Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”

The key thing is – his relationship with God not only enriched his own life, it moved him to enrich the lives of others.

An example of this occurred when my Grandpa owned an ice cream store. Now I should add that when you’re a kid hearing that your grandpa owned an ice cream store before you were born is a little bit like your parents telling you on December 24th that Santa came by early but forgot all your gifts. It feels like a missed opportunity. But I still loved hearing Grandpa talk about that ice cream store. For those of you familiar with this area it was in Beaverton on the corner of Cedar Hills Blvd and Canyon – theres a firestone tires there now, I often imagine what it might have looked like there when I drive by – and I’ll come clean here, sometimes I use it as an excuse to go get ice cream! One of the stories he told about that time was about a group of nuns. They visited frequently and one of them ordered the same thing every time, a vanilla cone with sprinkles. One day she was missing when the other nuns came in and Grandpa asked about her. When they mentioned that she was sick, he gave them a vanilla cone with sprinkles for her, free of charge. He did this until the day she passed and was given an award by the local bishop.

This is just one example of my Grandpa’s charity. When I was a teenager and active in the youth group of this church many of my friends would go on mission trips. My friends would always mention how my Grandpa had sent them a check. He gave to this church faithfully as any deacon can attest. He gave to a laundry list of charitable organizations and causes: the paralyzed veterans of America, Toys for Tots, the Portland Rescue Mission, the ACLU.

And although this is a bit embarrassing, until recently, he was giving Nathan and I a monthly allowance of fifteen dollars. He faithfully put all of his change in a savings account and every Christmas each of us would get an envelope with the words “Christmas Club” on it. I can’t tell you how honored Amber felt the first Christmas she got one of those envelopes, it was one of the many things he did that made her feel like a part of our family before we were married.

He wasn’t perfect though. He could certainly be stubborn at times. And the funny thing about that is there isn’t really anyone else in our family like that. He had his shortcomings but he always taught us the right thing. One of those things Nathan mentioned/could have mentioned as it was one of the sayings in his wallet: Honor is a gift a man gives himself. An example of that happened during World War Two. I’m sure I’ll embarrass myself in front of any military historians here, but bear with me. He enlisted in the Navy and served as a Sea Bee in the Pacific Theater. Now the CB was known as one of the safer assignments in World War Two, so this may surprise any World War Two veterans here when I mention that my Grandpa was injured during the war. One of the ships he was traveling in came under fire, but survived the encounter. During combat though a bomb (it was not live at the time) fell on his foot and broke several of his toes. Sometime later he was offered and refused a purple heart for being wounded in combat. He told me he couldn’t accept it when some of his friends had received more dangerous assignments and a few of them had lost their lives.

My Grandfather loved this country and was proud of what his generation accomplished during that time. Now I know I risk sounding like some kind of ersatz Tom Brokaw but as we celebrate my Grandfather’s life I feel the need to celebrate the contribution of his generation as well. There was something quintessentially American about that generation. It reminds me of the very old practice of barn raising. My Grandpa once showed me the home he built in Hillsboro and I asked him how on earth he managed to do it by himself. “I didn’t” he said. “My brothers helped, Dorothy’s family helped, our Neighbors helped, the church helped”. His generation worked hard, but they did so not out of self interest - They worked hard so they could make a meaningful contribution to their family and their community. I wasn’t surprised that my Grandpa mentioned his tenure as the president of the local Postal Workers union in his obituary because he clearly valued people coming together to solve a common problem. I’m deeply honored to be speaking before Pastor Howard Spaan who recently celebrated 60 years of ministry. For someone like myself who’s interested in a career in public service, the lives of people like Howard and my Grandpa inspire and challenge me with the profound impact they had on their community.

It saddens me greatly though, to think about certain members of my Grandparents generation. My Mother and her friend Sandy Twigg, who many of you know, have a ministry where they go sing at a local nursing home during the summer. She’s told me stories that would break your heart about elderly people with terminal diseases who haven’t had a visit from their family in months – People just like Howard or my Grandpa – left to die alone – discarded. I’m glad that my Grandfather died surrounded by his family in a way that fit the kind of life he lived.

I feel the need to examine my Grandfather’s passing in the wider context of the events of this past year. After these past few weeks many of you, like me, are worried about the future – wondering about the kind of opportunities your children or grandchildren will have in the years ahead. My Grandpa was worried too. He read the paper everyday, watched the news, listened to the radio. Every Sunday Amber and I would go have dinner with my Grandparents and my Mom and my Grandpa and I would talk about current events. His concern was always for the most vulnerable members of our society, working families, wounded veterans, the homeless, single mothers – Concerns he impressed on me since I was old enough to understand these issues. He would quote the book of Matthew and tell me that what we do for the least of our brothers, we do for Christ.

I’ve had dozens of people ask me what they can do for me and my family this past week. You’ve given us food, flowers your cards and your prayers. The most meaningful thing you could do for my family would be this: let my Grandpa’s life inspire you the way it inspired all of us. Start today. Now I know how these events are. You’re looking around, you see someone you recognize who you haven’t talked in years. You think “Oh, I’d like to talk to them, but I just don’t know what I’d say”. Today, for my Grandpa, who brought us all together, go shake their hand, talk about how you knew my Grandpa and what he meant to you. When you get home, think about a friend you haven’t seen in years, write them a letter, not an e-mail or a text message, write it in your own handwriting. Think of a charity or cause you believe in and give generously. Listen to your partner, teach your children, respect your elders and love your neighbor. Before my Grandpa passed he wrote letters to all of us in the family, to be opened after his passing. The last two words he wrote in mine were “Carry On” – that was his challenge to me, and that’s my call to all of you today – Thank You.

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