MY UNCLE HAROLD died on Saturday. Unexpectedly. He was eighty-four. Even though he lived a long life, the length of years never seems enough for loved ones. The loss is no less difficult.
Harold, like two other uncles, lived within a mile of the farm place where I grew up in southwestern Minnesota. He was just always around. At church on Sunday mornings. Visiting the farm. But most often, working at the gas station he owned and operated along Minnesota State Highway 19 in Vesta. The business long ago closed.
In January 2014, I interviewed my uncle and wrote about his memories and my memories of Harold’s Service. I am thankful I took the time to listen to my uncle’s stories of doing business in a community of some 350. These businesses, once the backbone of small town economies, are dwindling. It’s important that we document the stories of these entrepreneurs as much for historical reference as for examples of determination, hard work and service. Today I direct you to that post (click here), as I think of my beloved uncle—husband, father, grandfather, businessman, city employee, church janitor, small town city councilman, volunteer and man of faith.
I am fortunate to come from a large extended family of many aunts, uncles and cousins. Nearly all lived within close geographical proximity back in my growing up years in Redwood County, Minnesota. We celebrated birthdays and anniversaries together. These days, with my generation of cousins and our families now spread well beyond the prairie, we see each other only once a year at the annual Kletscher Family Reunion. Or at funerals.
There is comfort in memories and in the closeness of extended family. We have a legacy of faith passed from our great grandparents. They were among founding members of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Vesta. Funerals for my grandparents, father, and other uncles were held there. This week we gather again at St. John’s, to remember Uncle Harold. Loved by many. And now in his eternal home.
© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Oh Audrey. I am so very sorry. You and your family will continue to be in my prayers as you journey through grief and the sadness that comes with the death of a loved one. I am so sorry.
Thank you, Beth Ann.
Sorry for your loss Audrey. The older I get, family becomes more and more important. Through the upheavals of two world wars, family feuds that lasted way too long for their petty reasons, my family has spread far and wide. Due to my son being nine, and my mom, now 92, I decided to do genealogy research and discovered family spread from Virginia, Argentina, and Israel. My sense of place has tremendously grown. The world is large through family, though small in relations to others. Our legacy is what we give to our children and hopefully to theirs.
You are fortunate to have such an extended family. May Uncle Harold rest in peace.
Thank you, Keith.
I especially like this part of your comment: Our legacy is what we give to our children and hopefully to theirs.
I’m sorry for your loss. His memory will live on in your devotion to your family and sharing his story. Prayers!
Thank you, Kiandra.
Thank you for Uncle Harold’s posting. I feel so bad that I can’t attend his funeral. I was able to see him at Mom’s 95th birthday at Easter time. I treasure each visit back “home” because you never know when we will be called to glory!
I’m so glad you had that recent last visit with Uncle Harold. (But can your mom really be 95 already? She amazes me.)
Given the distance from Wautoma to Vesta, I certainly understand why you can’t make the funeral. We will miss you.
I’m so sorry for your loss, and I’m glad you have his stories in your head and heart.
Thank you. Yes, it’s important to hold those stories, as you know.
So sorry for your loss Audrey.
Thank you, Valerie.
I am very sorry for your loss of your loved one.
Thank you, Judy.
I am sorry for your loss. Take Care My Friend – thinking of you (((((lovesandhugs))))).
Thank you, Renee. I know you also recently lost a beloved uncle, maybe two?
Sorry to hear about his passing. Gosh, what could be a better place to hang out than a small town service station? These places were often the goto place for expert advice or mechanical creativity. Now we have computers and the internet – but half a century ago, the service station was on the leading edge of progress.
You totally understand the value of those small town service stations like the one owned and operated by my Uncle Harold.
I’m so sorry to hear of your Uncle’s passing. I’m glad you have fond memories to hold near…. It’s never easy to loose a family member. Praying for you and your family during this difficult time.
Thank you, Jackie.
I am so sorry for your loss. Your uncle sounds like a great guy.
Thank you. Uncle Harold will always hold a special place in my heart.
I’m so sorry for loss. Thoughts and prayers for your family during this time.
Deepest condolences on your (and your family’s) loss. It is always hard when someone close dies suddenly. I remember your uncles and their families well. They were strong members of St. John’s. As you wrote, many farm families lived in the same area for generations. My husband used to say that many of the congregation members were Kletschers, Gladitsches, or Kremins (among others) or were related to them. Laurine Jannusch
The large turn-out for Uncle Harold’s funeral yesterday was a testament to how much he was loved, valued and appreciated.
Oh, you should have heard the singing. Loud and beautiful. “How Great Thou Art” and more. The Vesta fire truck led the way to the cemetery given Harold served as a volunteer fireman for 45 years. It was a day of mixed emotions. We had a family reunion on earth while Harold was reuniting with family in heaven.
Thank you for your kind words, Laurine.
I am so sorry for your loss, Audrey. I imagine your Uncle Harold was a lot like the Bereuter Brothers that owned the gas station and fix-it shop in our little town. Those fellas did it all. Even put a band-aid on my sister Lisa’s knee when she busted it open in a bicycle accident in front of their shop. Imagine those big old stained hands helping patch up a little girl and checking her bicycle to make sure it was ok. Those folks were special. We lived in some mighty good times, Audrey. It’s no mistake that important people are in our lives at just the right times.
Thank you for sharing that story, Lori. These were/are, indeed, special individuals.