Bill Jones, 92, passed away of natural causes on Sunday, May 5, 2019. A Visitation will be Friday, May 17, 2019 from 6-8 PM at Croxford Funeral Home. His Funeral will be Saturday, May 18th at 10:00 AM, with a Viewing at 9:00 AM at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4601 3rd Ave. South. Burial at Highland Cemetery will take place following the service, with military honors performed by the Army Color Guard and by VFW Post 1087.
William Gleason Jones was born on July 23, 1927, in Ulm, Montana, to James Mansfield Jones and Millicent Grace Cheney. He was the youngest of 6 children and grew up on a 230 acre dairy farm 5 miles southwest of Ulm. He graduated from Cascade High school with a class of 6. After high school he enlisted in the Army during World War II. After the war he met and married Donna McCann. He met Donna when she was waitressing at Tracy’s restaurant. Bill and Donna were married for 68 years when Donna passed away 18 months ago. They had 5 children; Dennis, Nelda, Sheila, Randy, and Erin.
Bill was a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served in many capacities during his life. Bill had a great sense of humor, was known as an honest man, and a hard worker. He worked for Bison Ford for 35 years, won many awards and was there top salesman. After retiring Bill and Donna went on a Family History mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Birmingham, England where they helped with the 1881 Census Project.
Bill is survived by his children, Dennis (Jennie) Jones, Nelda (Steve) Chandler, Randy (Shawn) Jones; 22 grandchildren, and 72 great-grandchildren.
He is preceded in death by his parents, siblings, wife, Donna; daughters, Sheila Clayton, Erin Jones; and grandson, Nathan Jones.
~ Randy's Full Eulogy ~
My dad was born July 23, 1927 He was the youngest of 6 children. 5 boys and only 1 girl. The family originally lived in Missouri before coming to Ulm Mt. where the last 3 were born. When they lived in Missouri 3 older siblings were born. The older being approx. 12 years old when they came to Mt.
It is is my feeling that in order to understand our dad, that you need to understand a little bit about his father. His dad was quite a colorful character. He is someone that is larger than life.
I won’t tell you much about him but like most fully developed characters, he did have a bad side, and his was that he had a terribIle temper.
My grandfather when they lived in Missouri was quite a trader. I know this because my dad said that grandpa Jones was quite a story teller and used to love to tell stories of his earlier days (which quality my dad inherited- he was also quite a story teller).
My dad said that he would buy and trade horses all the time. Except he would buy horses and doctor them up and then laugh at how he got the best of the deal. He traded everything, he even would trade their farm. He actually did that several times in Missouri. When they left Missouri they had a beautiful farm. It was lush and grew all kinds of things, and it had a stream running through it.
-Then my grandpa made what you would call the ultimate trade. He traded site unseen his beautiful farm for a farm in Ulm Mt. So, they packed up all that they could cram into an old model T (which I always assumed was a truck, but it wasn’t) and drove all the way out to Ulm Mt.
I always found it fascinating to picture that trip. Of course there were no roads, more like tails at the time.
I would have liked to see the scene of when they saw their farm for the first time outside of Ulm. If you take the current highway to Helena as you go out of Ulm, it is on the right side of the road.
Anyway, it was a stark contrast to the farm that they had left in Missouri. This was a dryland farm and nothing would grow on it besides thistles. The land was all covered with rocks. There were no animals. His mom and dad had to work at other farms for 3 or 4 years in order to buy animals. They turned it into a dairy farm because nothing grew. It did have a house and a barn I am guessing. I don’t think that it had a well. I remember my dad telling me that he dug the well by hand. I don’t remember asking him why only he dug the well.
In his later years, dad became quite surely. One day about a year ago, we were reading about his family coming clear from Missouri in a model T, and I said to him “That must have been quite a trip, driving clear to Mt in an old model T truck.” He got so mad “Truck! I never told you we owned a truck! Who told you that we had a truck! We never owned a truck!” Then it dawned on me. Oh, they must have also made m*odel T cars, and they owned a car.
Everything that I knew was based on movies, and you know that they always show a family packing all of their belongings into the back of an old modle T truck.
What I thought would be a real bonding moment with my dad, talking about this significant trip, didn’t turn out that way. All that my dad focused on in the story is what I got wrong- that they never had a truck. But this was actually typical of my dad, esp as he got older, to focus on something irrelevant.
Instantly, though the picture in my mind changed. I then pictured them all crammed into an old model T car now, you know driving along with all their belongings strapped to the side of the car.
It sounds like there was no moping or angry fits about coming out on the short side of the deal. Never did I hear of any regrets etc. (Personally, I am guessing that grandpa Jones never would admit to the fact that he had got the short end of the stick) They just made the best of what the way things were. It was the same when the depression came.
I am going to go back again and tell you a little more about my dad’s dad. I remember him telling me that his dad pictured himself to be quite an inventor. “Pictured” is the key word, because I don’t think that he ever invented anything. He wasn’t like that eccentric professor on “Back to the future” who invented all kinds of cool stuff. Rather, he was eccentric all right, but never invented anything.
I remember dad saying that his dad was always trying to invent perpetual motion. If you are like me and have never heard of perpetual motion, well I guess that it is a theory that was around at some point that an engine could be developed that once started could run indefinitely on it’s own, without gas. Of course there is no such thing as perpetual motion, but there would be if he would have invented it.
My dad also said that his dad never threw a thing away. He was always saving discarded junk and making it work for something. He said that if they got a newer car or something, that he would keep the old one and use it to power something like a windmill. I can picture an old model T car (not a truck, because they never had a truck) with it’s hood up and a crankshaft coming out of it powering the windmill or something.
His dad was also always collecting old discarded machinery and making it into a contraption of some sort, and using it for something that was totally unrecognizable from it’s original use. Dad was much of the same. You should have seen the house that they lived in prior to going to the retirement center.
And mom was always so proud of dad’s creations. Remember, mom was from the same era that you made use of everything. I remember my mom proudly showing me what my dad had created. Some of the things that he did were truly unique.
As I said, they had a dairy. His mother made cottage cheese from the milk and then 3 times a week his mom and dad went to Great Falls to peddle the cottage cheese. They would spend most of the day going from store to store trying to sell this cottage cheese.
From what I understand, making the cottage cheese was quite a process and was very labor intensive. Especially, since they had no modern conveniences, and everything had to be done by hand. Dad told me the process but I don’t remember it. All I can remember him saying was he remembers his mother constantly hanging something on the clothes line to dry.
I remember him talking about (in fact my mom mentioning many times), the fact that all they did all day was work. (Note: I know that mother’s childhood was no picknick, so to say my dad’s was a lot rougher is saying a lot) They got up at approx. 3am (or whatever time that you get up to milk cows) every day and went to bed approx. 10 or 11pm. Every day was the same- 7 days a week.
I told you that dad’s dad was a little eccentric. All of the farm animals had to have a name. This was OK but he named them after the neighbors. He said that this became embarrassing when the neighbors came to visit because his dad would say something like “Hank got out of the pasture again. You need to go get him.” And there was Hank sitting on the couch.
There was a significant instance that occurred in dad’s life that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it. When my dad was a teen (not sure how old), his dad had a bad accident. His dad and brother took off to Conrad one night in after dark. They had an old car at the time with no shock absorbers, and it was on rough dirt roads. My dad’s father had stripped the car down- taken all of the doors off, etc, to the point that there was only seats (this was long before seatbelts, of course). Note: I’m not sure what he was going to do with the car doors, roof, hood, etc. The only thing that I can fathom was perhaps he was going to make some kind of shed out of them.
Anyway, after they were a way from home, they hit a bump and his dad got thrown out of the car, causing a serious head injury. They got him to Conrad hospital. He was in the hospital for approx. 4 months. Initially, he was pretty much a vegetable. However, he was really a tough old bird. He slowly improved till one day he climbed out of the 2cd story window and made his way back to the farm in Ulm. Dad said that his father was never quite right after the accident. One thing is that he had a temper and the accident amplified his temper.
This was an interesting and often humorous story. One thing that I found to be thought provoking was that whenever dad talked about the car being all stripped down (yet they were still driving it)- whenever he would mention that part of the story, he was always so matter of fact about it. It was like, that was just how you did things.
I thought about it. Was this the norm for back then? Was it the custom to strip everything off of a car, yet drive it? Just maybe grandpa Jones was a little off, and dad was so used to it that it way normal to him also. At any rate, I’m sure that it all made perfect sense to grandpa.
I guess that I shouldn’t be totally surprised. Like my dad, I think that I inherited at least a portion of the “odd” gene. I often find myself using the same kind of logic and thinking “this makes perfect sense to me.” Usually, when I share my ideas with my wife, her reply is, “You’ve got to be kidding me. You’re on crack!”
One reason that I mention this is that his parents always greatly relied upon him because many of his sibling had left the farm, but when his dad got in this accident, it was summer and he had to pretty much run the farm.
He went to a 1 bedroom country grade school and later went on to high school in Cascade, graduating in a class of 6.
I remember when I was a teen I worked on a wheat farm driving truck. The wheat farm was a little beyond the airport, and sometimes we had to drive our trucks to the gainorie in Ulm- and coincidently it happened to be the very same grainorie that my dad worked at when he was in high school. I’m not sure how they worked it out on the farm because they really depended on him, but they did. In fact, he did more than work at the grainorie, he ran it. It turns out that the owner had some accident or something and left it to my dad to run it alone.
I remember my dad telling me a story about an accident he had when he worked at the grainorie. He said that there is an auger that takes the grain way up high into the grainorie. Sometimes the auger would get jammed and he would have climb way up high and unjam the auger. One day the auger got jammed and he had to climb way up high to unjam it. Well, when he was way up high, he fell and there was also an auger below. He says that to that day he doesn’t know how he missed the auger below. Somehow, miraculously he made it out without a scratch. He really felt that someone was watching out for him.
As I mentioned, the family worked 7 days a week. He says that the first time that he was inside a church was when he graduated. He had an older sister that taught him a lot of things, and it was this sister who taught him about God. He said many times that he always felt especially protected and guided during his life.
I am going to skip ahead a little chronologically, but later he met my mom and eventually in their marriage they found out that they had a lot in common. As many of you know, one of my mom’s passions was genealogy- searching ancestors. Not long into her search she discovered that they both shared the same religious heritage. My dad’s maiden name is Cheney, which turns out to go back in church history clear back to the time of Joseph Smith. He actually has thousands of relatives who are members of the church. He is from one line that the individual at some point fell away from the church.
Back to his life on the farm. When his parents would go to town, being kids they would fool around and a couple of hours before his parents were due back, they would try to do 8 hours of work in a couple of hours- which of course, which you can’t do, and they would end up in trouble and have to face their father’s wrath.
They basically entertained each other. One of the things I remember him telling me that they did was to go swimming in the Missouri River- which was close by, and none of them had learned how to swim. It was a miracle that none of them drowned.
After dad graduated from high school, WW11 was going on and he volunteered for the army. The war was actually winding down and he ended up never being sent overseas. However, some of his older brothers weren’t so lucky and ended up being heavily involved in some of the worst fighting of the war.
I remember him telling me about his older brother Phil. I don’t know how it happened, but the boat that his brother was on was sunk by the German’s.
They plucked him up out of the water and sent him to the Pacific, where he was involved in most of the major battles of the Pacific. When the war ended, he was never the same. He was what they called “shell shocked” in those days. It’s what they called PTSD today
William Jones Eulogy- (Note- Some of this information was included at the funeral.)
I know that this is not appropriate, but I just wanted to briefly comment on what bishop Michelson had mentioned in his talk. I just wanted to say that I agree fully with what bishop Michelson has said. Essentially, it is as if we have two parts. There is our physical body- which is here temporarily- and then there is the “real” part, our soul in essence- which cannot be destroyed. Nothing real can be destroyed.
A little known fact about me is that I am very philosophical, or essentially spiritual. In case you are unaware, I was born and raised in the Church of … but haven’t gone to church in quite a while. However, regardless, I really think deeply about life.
It’s a real contradiction because those who know me, know that I should probably ‘and act so clueless on the other hand. It’s quite a paradox. One that I’ve pondered a lot. Truthfully, it’s a mystery to me. I’m still trying to figure that one out.
So, to just build upon what bishop said, something that I have given a lot of thought to, and actually strive to do almost every waking moment, is to feel that essence in me- that part of me that I consider to be truly “real.” I’m talking about actually feeling our spirit, essentially, in yourself and others. Some of the experiences that I’ve had pursuing this have been truly other worldly. Anyone can make this connection, given a few guidelines.
Anyway, onward to the purpose of why I am speaking, the actual Eulogy.
When my mom and dad were older, there came a point that they needed 24 hour care. We actually have several houses that we rent and they lived in one of these houses and I lived with them 24 hrs a day and gave them nursing care. That’s what I am is a retired nurse, so I know a lot of the things that needed to be done. Later, they had to go to nursing homes, and because my brother and sister live far away, I was the only who could see them routinely. When they lived with me and later in the nursing home, one of the things that they loved to do was read stories from their past. So, as a result I heard a lot of stories.
Many of the stories were quite humorous but I remember thinking many times- you can’t make this stuff up.
I remember that at mom’s funeral, we brought our dad and set him in his w/c in the isle near the front. After about 2 minutes, he fell asleep, and about ½ of the way through, he woke up and had to go to the bathroom. Then when we got back into the chapel, he fell asleep again.
When we got home I asked him about the funeral (because after all they were married practically 70 years). He said, surely and angrily as he did often at that point, “I couldn’t hear or see a thing, so I just took nap!”
We tried to do lots of things for him when he I lived with him and later at the nursing home to make his life more enjoyable, but he invariably didn’t like anything that we tried to do to make his life more tolerable. I remember Nelda, my older sister, tried several things. He couldn’t hear. In order for him to hear you, you had to scream in his ear (note: we bought him hearing aids several times, which he refused to wear).
One thing that he liked was when you read to him out of the Book of Mormon. Nelda and her husband thought that is would be a good idea to get him tapes and a player, plus ear phones, so that he could listen to the B of M. They put in a lot of effort into doing something special for him. Nelda said that he hated those earphones. It sounds like that his reaction was one similar to putting earphones over a dog’s ears. Needless to say, they took everything back to the store.
I volunteered for this talk. When I started to prepare it I realized that there was a small problem. I’m practically blind. I couldn’t see what I’d written. I didn’t think of that when I volunteered, now I realized that I was kind of in a fix.
My oldest brother is a real particle joker, and I could see the wheels spinning in his head when I told him that I would give the Eulogy. He was probably thinking “he forgot that he is practically blind. This should be hilarious to watch.”
Actually, I don’t think that he or my oldest sister really had any mal intent. You see, I have this ability to convince people that I am perfectly normal. They really shouldn’t feel bad, if it makes them feel any better, I remember the time that I convinced my wife that it was perfectly safe for me to use a power saw.
And then when we were sitting in the emergency rm, having just about cut my thumb practically off, you know blood spurting all over and my thumb just dangling there, she says “Oh, I knew that I shouldn’t have let him use that power saw!”
Actually, I don’t blame any of them. I know that I can be quit convincing that I am normal. It is easy to make people forget the times that I run into a tree or trip over a chair.
I just want to mention an experience that I had relating to the funeral, that occurred about a week ago- shorty after dad died. We had a preschool program for my grand-son, My son in law’s mother said, “I’m really sorry to hear about your dad.” I was shocked. I said “How did you find out about my dad dying?” I know that it hadn’t been in the newspaper yet, etc. She looked me like “Really?”
She explained it to me “Your daughter is my son’s wife, right? Hillary and I do talk” I thought, “Oh, if you explain it that way, I guess it does make sense.” She leaned over in a few minutes and whispered in my ear, “It’s OK Randy, I’ll let you in on a secret, my husband has half a brain also.”
That made me feel so good, “Finally, there is someone else in the world who is normal.” I look forward to the reception later. I’m sure that a few wives will come up to me and let me know that their husbands have ½ a brain also.
When I started to write this talk, I started early last Sat morning, and barely took time to eat, and I kept going and going. At some point, my wife really started to get worried. She kept saying things like, “Honey, I’m getting really concerned. I think that you are writing a novel, not a Eulogy.”
At 11:30 at night my wife said “Are you done?” Well, I’m almost ½ done. You have to understand, his life is just fascinating. Honey, you can’t make a lot of this stuff up.” But she said “It is fascinating to you, but for everyone else it won’t be so fascinating.”
So, the next 3 days or so I just kept frantically writings. All of my family was seriously worried. My wife said, “You realize that you don’t need to go back to the time of Adam, right?” They kept saying “Are you done yet?”
I had a copy of the talk printed out, and my wife said, “You’re seriously not going to give all of that, are you?” I replied, “Well, I’ve crossed most of it out” I showed her the talk, “See, on this page I’ve got a paragraph crossed off” and then skipped a few pages, then showed her “See, I’ve got a paragraph crossed off on this page.”
Then my wife said, “You know how to tell if you are boring the audience, don’t you? They are asleep if they are leaning on their hand with their eyes closed, or falling off the end of the pew, then you know that they are bored. Look for those signs.”
So, eventually we decided upon a happy medium. We decided that I would call Croxford’s Mortuary and ask them if I could post the full Eulogy on their website. So, that’s what we did. I even cut a lot out of the longer version because at that point I thought that it would be the version I would use in my talk. So, for the novel go to Croxfordfuneralhome.com
I really apologize that today I will not be able to give dad’s life justice. I’ll only be able to give you a glimpse. My goal is to try to motivate you to read the unedited, slightly, longer version.
Actually, I think that it is a little bit of providence that it worked out the way it did. He and mom had 95 descendants, almost a 100. Only a tiny fraction of his descendants were able to attend the funeral. It will be nice for them to have a place that they can go to in order to learn more about his life. A lot of ahis grandchildren and great-grandchildren don’t know much about his life.
Most of the stories about dad’s life I have had to unfortunately leave out due to time constraints, and the ones that I do mention are abridged, so to speak. But, in the version on the internet I’ve included many stories of his life, and even a few stories about mom. If you knew our folks at all, I almost beg you to take a look at what is on line. (Besides, it makes me look intelligent and tech savvy to say somethng like, “for more information go to croxfordfuneralhome.com I can see my wife cringing because I know what she is thinking, “Ya, that’s my husband unfortunately. Only he would think that makes him look intelligent!”
Dad was born July 23rd 1927 in Ulm, Mt
He was the youngest of 6 children, 5 boys and only 1 girl
Just briefly, dad went to a 1 bdr country school in his early years, then to Cascade for high school. He graduated from Cascade High school in a class of 6.
After high school, WW11 was just ending and he enlisted in the Army. He never went overseas because the war was just winding down.
After he was discharged from the army, he was in Great Falls one day at Tracy’s restaurant (most of you remember Tracy’s restaurant, it finally closed down about a year ago). Anyway, he saw this cute girl and would flip folded up napkins at her. This girl was Donna McCann- who would later become his wife. (Just a footnote, she really was stunning when she was young. I’ve seen some pictures of her in her earlier days and she was very pretty. My dad also was very handsome. He had think wavy hair and was very good looking.)
So, they ended up going on a first date. Technically, the first date was a flop because, I don’t know what happened, but there was a mis communication somehow and they ended up standing each other up.
I find this to be an interesting tidbit, when they finally did get together, their first date was to a wrestling match. When I questioned dad about this, he defended himself and said, “It was the only entertainment at the time.” I never would have guessed that. I knew that this was before movie theaters. I would have guessed that boxing was big- but wrestling?
But, before they were married they took a long trip to Mexico. They went with his older sister and her husband. And grandma, mother’s mother, had no problem at all with it. Dad was such a nice guy after all. So, in a sense they had a honeymoon before they were married.
They were married October 1, 1949 at the old 14th St chapel by Loyd Croxford. The same Loyd Croxford who incidentally built the funeral home service that is handling this funeral.
Some of you may remember the 14th st. chapel. It is no longer used as a church, but actually was the first Church of Jesus Christ … in the area that was built. Personally, I remember it well. I went to church for many years in that building. Later, the stake center in Valley View was built.
I have to digress again a little. I haven’t mentioned yet that my dad never met his 2 oldest brothers when he was younger, because they both had left home before he was born. In fact, the first time that he met his older brother was at his wedding. I never knew how the scene actually went down. I have often thought that I wish that I was a mouse in the corner. I picture them standing in the reception line and this older guy shakes their hand and says “Hi, I’m Ben Jones. By the way, I’m you’re oldest brother”
I would have liked to know what went through dad’s mind at that moment. I’m sure that it was one of shock having just received such a bombshell. Its like “this is fantastic, but your timing may be just a tad off. Perhaps, you could have dropped by last week.”
The reason that I mention a little bit about the first church in the area was because my mom and dad along with Loyd Croxsford had a very influential hand in building up the church in the area. I’m a little hesitant in mentioning dad’s name in the same sentence as Loyde Croxford’s because I don’t know of anyone who was more influential in building up The Church … in the area than was Loyd Croxford.
Back to after he was married, I remember that in one of the wards (a ward is like a congregation in another church, and the head is called a bishop- not a pastor or reverend) that I was in, there was an old man in it that they called Bishop McDonald. He basically kept to himself and lived in kind of an old run down house. I asked around and asked why they called this guy Bishop. The best answer that I could get from anyone was that many years ago he was a bishop, and the tradition is that once you quite serving as a bishop, you always are called bishop out of respect.
One day I was talking to my mom and mentioned that there is an old guy in our ward called bishop McDonald but no one seems to know anything about him. My mom said “Oh, yes we know bishop McDonald very well. He was the very first bishop in the area and Bill served as his councilor.”
I mentioned that the 14th st church was the first church built in the area. The 2cd was the stake center in Valley View. Back in that day Tolcott Construction didn’t build the building, rather the members in the area built the church with donated labor. Dad had a major role in building the Valley View stake center. He was the one responsible for coordinating all of the labor to build the church, which was a huge job.
I remember when they finished the construction of the church, dad gathered up all of the scrap material and dumped it in our garage. It was quite a site. We had this huge mountain of scrap wood in our garage. It completely filled the garage, clear up to the ceiling. I wonder how he stuffed it all in the garage. We had a couple of fireplaces in our house, so you know what we burned for the next 15 years.
After they were first married they lived in kind of a 1 bedroom shack with no power or gas, and an outside privy. While they still lived in it, he basically rebuilt the house. He worked during the day at his job and worked on the house at night. I mean the middle of the night. He said that there were many times that the neighbors called the police because he was hammering away at 1 or 2 in the morning. In the end he ended up with a pretty decent house. It had 3 bedrooms, and an attached garage. He even dug the sewer line by hand.
Later, they had a house built in Valley View where they lived for approx. 20 yrs and raised most of their 5 kids. Their 5 kids are Dennis, the eldest. Next they had two girls, Nelda and Sheila, and last was Erin. Interestingly there is approx. 20 years between the eldest Dennis and the youngest Erin. Two of 5 children have passed away prior to our dad’s passing. The 3rd oldest, Sheila and the youngest, Erin.
During their married life my dad worked as a salesman selling cars. He sold Fords for Bison Motors. When he was younger growing up on the farm he worked extremely hard. Basically, that’s all they did, was work- 7 days/wk from 3 or 4 till 10pm at night. However, when he became a car salesman, this work ethic served him well. He was very successful at selling cars. Infact, he was so successful that he still holds the record, 40 years after his retirement, for selling the most cars in his career in the hx of the Bison Motor franchise.
I remember well that he would go to work and then after dinner would get on the phone and make phone calls to potential costumers late into the night- every day, 6 days a week.
One thing that I discovered early on was that apparently my voice sounds exactly like his, which is odd because I have a very unique sounding voice. I would answer the phone (and believe me my dad got a ton of phone calls) and immediately whoever was on the line would assume that they were talking to my dad and go into some long dissertation about what they needed- and eventually I would have to interrupt them and say “excuse me, but I have to let you know that you’re not talking to my dad, but this is his son” and they would always be shocked and say something like “Oh, my I had no idea, you sound just like your dad.” So, I would take a message. Later I got to thinking “You know, I really missed a lot of opportunities. I should have had a little fun with that.”
I told you that dad was a successful car salesman. His hard work ethic definitively played a large part in that success, but besides that he had a very personable personality and a great sense of humor. Dad had what you would call a dry sense of humor.
When it came down to passing this sense of humor on, my oldest brother I believe inherited a gene and a half. He inherited this same dry humor. He has a marvelous dry sense of humor.
So, my brother got a gene and a half of sense of humor. I always felt jilted and envious of my brother because I don’t have any sense of humor at all. See, you have to understand that I’m the 4th child down. By the time he got to me, I think that he was feeling pretty worn out. I inherited something alright, but it wasn’ his great sense of humor that I inherited. I believe it was the dry part. Just dry.
So that you can get a better perspective. Both my dad and brother are great story tellers. They tell and told the funniest stories and the greatest jokes. My problem is that I always forget the details of a story or could never remember how a joke went- or the punch line of a joke. Its like “why did the chicken cross the road? I don’t know, I forgot. I was hoping that you could tell me.”
I’m like Sheldon on the Big bang theory. You don’t laugh at Sheldon’s jokes, you laugh at him because he’s Sheldon. My wife puts it in an unflattering way, “I’m sorry to tell you this honey, but they are laughing at you, not with you.” I’m funny as a stitch when I’m not trying to be funny.
Dad also knew everyone or someone they knew in a 100 mile radius in the town. It was uncanny. Over the years, I’ve seen him run into tons of people. Always, he either knew them or someone that they knew. I know that this talent also made him a good car salesman.
I remember that when I lived with them, in the summer we would be sitting outside. By this time my dad is about 87 years old. He can’t walk or see across the street, and here comes a complete stranger to visit the renter downstairs. He stops for a minute to talk to us and dad asks him what his name is and where he is from?
He says his name is _____ McKenzie, and that he lives in Belt. Dad says, “I used to know some McKenzie’s in Belt. They did such and such. Are they any relation to you?” He replied, “Well, as a matter of fact, I’m related to most McKenzie’s in town.” I thought, “Dad, how in the world do you do that?”
Mom hated my dad’s dry sense of humor, or so she led us to believe. She told us often that it embarrassed her to no end. This was after both Nelda and Dennis had moved away, so they weren’t involved. Anyway, I’ll never forget one family dinner that we had. Dad started cracking dry jokes. After a few jokes, my poor mom had had all that she could handle. She looked up and just yelled, “Bill!”
My dad, who was sitting right across the table from her, totally ignored her. So, he keeps on cracking jokes and we are just rolling around with laughter. Meanwhile, my mom is going frantic on the other side of the table. If anyone knows my mom, subtilty is not one of her strong points. In fact, if truth the were to be told, I don’t think that she even knows the meaning of the word.
But she was dramatic. So, she’s horrified and just waving her arms frantically, and she reaches over to my wife (who was sitting by her) and says, “Shawn, don’t laugh at him, you’ll just encourage him.”
Here’s the kicker, I really don’t think that my mom was offended by my dad as she let us on to believe. If you know mother at all, everything was dramatized. So, we’re cracking up over dad on one hand. Then after awhile, you didn’t know who was funnier, dad or mom’s way over the top, extremely dramatized reaction to dad.
Just a side-note, dad could be hilarious in his own right, but my mom was every bit as funny. She never once disappointed. Whenever she was supposed to be “offended” or we teased her, she always was the consummate actress. Her reaction was always priceless. She could dramatize being so offended and being totally exasperated at you better than anyone I knew. She was always way, way over the top. To a young kid, that was the funniest thing in the world. My youngest daughter, who was all of 7 or 8 at the time, (and 21 now) still talks about that dinner.
I mentioned that I lived with my mom and dad for approx. 4 years before they had to go to the nursing home. Let me tell you that it was quit interesting. They already both had unique personalities. However, when they were older, both of their personalities became greatly amplified. It was like living with mom and dad on steroids. I could tell you lots of stories about both of them relating to those years.
I can’t resist digressing a little and telling you a little about my mom. I know that this is dad’s funeral, but they were married almost 70 years, so she was definitely a integral part of his life.
How do I even begin to describe our mom? Like I said, literally everything that she did was dramatic. I remember in later years that one of her callings was to conduct music in the ward.
I remember that it was quite an event. I think that she pictured herself conducting the Philharmonic Orchestra. She always was very dramatic, and would dramatically conducted with both hands. You know she would be waving her arms and she would subtly wave her fingers for the violins to come in, and then motion to the oboes to come in.”
I’m exaggerating, but the point is that mom loved to be teased. She was really in her element when anyone teased her or gave her a hard time, then the fun really began.
Gary Croxford, Dennis Croxford’s brother was our neighbor for a long time. My folks knew both Gary and Dennis well. Mom always viewed both ofT them as being kids, and often said just that. Here Dennis and Gary are both older and retired now, but to my mom, no matter how old they got to her they were kids. I can still remember my mom saying “Oh, Gary! Or Dennis!” and acting so offended and exasperated.
When she exclaimed “Bill!” to dad at that family gathering, notice dad didn’t even flinch. You have to understand the fact that it was her typical reaction to everyone. It meant that she really liked you. I can’t think of a person who knew her that she didn’t talk to this way. Typically, it was after you teased her, and everyone teased her because she was so teaseable, and you were always guaranteed an over the top reaction.
Really, thinking back, I can honestly say that I ever met someone that she didn’t like. Everyone has their little quirks. But to her, it was these quirks that make people adorable and cute to her.
I know that if she is listening to this talk now and is hearing some of the stories that I’m telling (and will tell) about her, that she is having absolute hysterics. I can almost hear and picture her, “Randy!! I’m your mother for goodness sakes! Shame on you! How dare you tell these stories! Hear I am in Heaven, and I’m totally defenseless!!”
In the Church they have a Sunday a month called Fast and Testimony Day, which is a very sacred day. One that you fast and then come together. The main purpose of this sacred day, if I’m correct, is to testify of the Savior and how He has played a part in your life.
So, mom gets up in front of everyone. First, she went into this elaborate dialog telling everyone about her family- which isn’t appropriate, because the topic is supposed to focus on the Savior. Well, that was forgivable, I guess. And then she said so proudly, “As a matter of fact, I have one of my sons with me and his family. Randy, why don’t you and your family stand up?” So, we are sitting at the back of the church and we all kind of sheepishly stood up.
So, she proudly introduced the whole family. “This is my son, who I am so proud of (and she tells everyone all about me and how wonderful I am), and his lovely wife Shawn, and tells some things about her, and these are his 5 kids, and introduced each one. And we are kind of sheepishly waving at everyone.” “Hi”
All my life I truly believed that whenever the first presidency made a statement that they always included a special Donna Jones clause. That had to be the case. There was the direction to the church, and then in fine print there was this exception. It read something like, “The above instruction applies to everyone, that is unless your name is Donna Jones.”
These little eccentric traits, for both of them, were amplified in later years. When I lived with them, I remember my cousin Cindy Carlsen faithfully came and got mom every wk and took her to church. Eventually, Cindy confided in me, “Oh Randy, I simply can’t bear to take her to another Fast and Testimony Mtg. I love your mom but she insists on bearing her testimony every month, and she totally disrupts the meeting. It is so embarrassing- and I can’t stop her from getting up and bearing her testimony.” “Believe me, I understand,” I replied, and boy did I understand! So, between us we subtly figured out a way that she could avoid Fast and Testimony Mtg.
On a more serious note and all kidding aside, I talked to one of my aunts and asked her what she remembered about my dad. She said that the thing that she remembers was the good spirit that was always in our home. I guess I never thought of it, but what she was talking about was really true. All homes have a certain atmosphere and ours had a loving atmosphere.
“I” can never remember my parents arguing. One thing that was important to my dad was that his children were raised in a religious atmosphere. That is something that he never had when he was a kid. As I have mentioned, when he was growing up about all that they did was work, 7 days a wk. Before the sun came up till after it went down. Also, as I mentioned, he often told me that the first time he was in a church was when he graduated, and I told you that he only knew about God thanks to his oldest sister who taught him about God.
There was one thing that I particularly admired about dad. I told you a little about his dad. He was a colorful character but as I said, one of his not so admirable qualities was that he had a horrible temper. Dad didn’t want that to be his legacy and a quality that he passed on to his children.
I was told by my mom many times what a good man that my father was and how far that he had come considering his childhood. One of the things that she told me was that his father had a horrible temper and he didn’t want this to be passed down to us. She said that that was the reason that he never spanked me, because he was afraid that his temper would get the best of him if he did.
I can honestly say that only once in my life did I see my dad loose his temper. He didn’t spank me or cuss, but he was pretty mad. Now remember I was the 4th child, so my experiences were probably not the same as my older siblings.
Dad was always kind of obsessive. That trait got worse as he got older. There are lots of stories related to his obsessiveness. I’ll just tell one. When I was taking care of mom and dad, I remember that they had about a 30 year old car that was parked in the driveway, which we never drove. I didn’t drive either, on account of my eye problems. Anywhere that we went, my wife (Shawn) had to come get us and drive us.
So, one day my dad decided that the license plates on his old car needed to be renewed. I looked it up, and there was still 3 months left before the plates needed to be renewed. I told him as much but he insisted that the next day that I needed to go get the registration renewed.
He absolutely insisted that this had to be done in the next few days. To him, it was a life or death matter. I said, “Dad, if you go too early, they won’t even be able to access the records yet and they will send us home without renewing the B
I also swear that bombshell incidents are inherited, and that it is male dominate. Grandpa had his when he traded his farm in Missouri for the farm in Ulm. Dad had his when his brother, whom he’d never met, showed up at his wedding. Well, I also had my bombshell.
I remember that when I was 9 or 10 I was walking home from school one day. At the time I was really into gunslingers. You know, reading Zane Grey and watching the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns- you know the ones that he barely speaks 5 words the whole movie, he just looks mean and tough. Well, I was walking home from school and my friend was singing this really cool song about a gunslinger named James.
I went home and I was telling my mom what a cool name that was- James, and I said to her that I really wish that she had named me James. Then she said something that was one of the biggest bombshells of my life. She said, “Randy, I’ve got some news for you, your name is James” “What?” “Ya, we named you after your grandfather (whose first name was James), but we figured that you wouldn’t like the name James, so we called you Randy.”
You could have knocked me over with a feather. This was a bigger revelation than the birds and bees! ”But I love the name James. It’s much better than Randy!” “Well honey, it’s not too late to have people start calling you James if you want.” However, it was too late. I never could get people to stop calling me Randy. Later, when we got together, I sometimes teased my parents… “Remember the time when you forgot to tell me that little detail, like my name!”
We love you a lot dad and know that you are absolutely ecstatic at being re-united now with so many loved ones.
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