Saturday, November 24, 2007

Grandpa Wilder

Well, here we are in metropolitan Ladysmith, Wisconsin, population less than 3000. We drove five hours to Janesville, where Jeannette's dad lives, on Thanksgiving, knowing that her Grandpa Wilder was on the verge of passing away. That evening, we got word that he had died at about 9:00 PM, at age 87 (almost 88). Yesterday, we left Phillip and Jameson with Jeannette's dad and his wife and Jeannette, Jordan, Melody and I drove the rest of the way to Ladysmith, about four more hours. While en route, we found out that the funeral wouldn't take place until Monday, which means that Jordan and I will probably leave the girls here and return home without them. We can't afford to have the boys miss that much school and I really should be at work by Tuesday.

Grandpa Wilder was Jeannette's mom's father. I've enjoyed meeting more of Jeannette's relatives this weekend. They are quite the group. MelodyJoy, of course, provided much of the entertainment for everyone but by no means was she the only source.

I only met Grandpa Wilder a few times, most memorably at our wedding rehearsal dinner, where he played his usual role of providing entertainment by quoting a couple of poems from memory. There's no doubt that he was one-of-a-kind. He was still repairing the roof of his house at age 80 and his family likes to tell Paul Bunyan-esque tales about him. Here is his obituary:

Lawrence A. Wilder, 87, a long time Ladysmith resident, died Nov. 22, 2007. He was the husband of Lavon (Brainerd) Wilder.

He was born Dec. 19, 1919 at Hammond, Indiana, the fifth child of the late Emory R. Wilder and Daisy (Hepworth) Wilder. In 1935, Emory and Daisy bought 160 acres southwest of Ladysmith, adjacent to Wilder Road. Larry helped his father clear and farm the land, as well as build a log house and barn.

He attended school through the 8th Grade, later continuing high school by a home study program. He obtained his journeyman certificate in carpentry and helped build many bridges in Wisconsin. He worked his whole life as both a farmer and a carpenter. He served as Chairman of Thornapple Township for several years. He was active in several churches over the years. He was superintendent of the Sunday School and Junior Church at The Bible Fellowship Church in Madison, Wisconsin, where he also sang in the choir and drove the church bus. Larry was the principal carpenter and builder of the Northland Bible Church on Hwy 8 in Ladysmith.

Larry inherited his mother's love for poetry and her excellent memory. He entertained family and friends for hours reciting poems and singing songs. He once said "I think it is my purpose in life to make others happy."

Larry married Lavon Brainerd of Bruce, Wisconsin, on August 31, 1940. He is preceded in death by his parents; two older sisters, Cora Rees and Beulah Wilder; one older brother, William; one younger sister, Marion Wilder; two younger brothers, Lyman and Lyle; and one granddaughter, Aleshia Rose Wilder. He is survived by his wife Lavon; daughters Beulah Wilder of Alberta, Canada; Joyce Wilder of Albany, Oregon; and Julie Newman of Clarksville, Arkansas; sons Stephen (Janet) of Tomah, Wisconsin; Stanley, Alvin and Kevin of Bruce, Wisconsin; and Curtis of Stoughton, Wisconsin. He is also survived by brothers Jesse of Camas, Washington, and Samuel of Ladysmith; and sisters Bethel O’Connor of Winter, Wisconsin; Louise Butler and Emily Strehmel of Sheldon, Wisconsin; Rosalea Teele of Glen Flora, Wisconsin; and Linda Wilder of Ladysmith. In addition, he is survived by 41 grandchildren, 42 great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandson, and many nieces and nephews who loved him and enjoyed his poems, stories and great sense of humor.


Laurie H said...

Rick was just in Ladysmith WI. Small world!

Palmer said...

And an even smaller town.