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Who’s your hero? Tell us a story about why that person plays such an important role in your life.

Heroes come in many shapes and personalities. Some heroes are in your life for only a short time and affect you positively when you need it; others have a continuing guiding influence, like my grandfather.

He is definitely one of my favorite long-term heroes and persons of influence. He never did anything heroic, except in terms of living life to the fullest and best every day. He showed me that living simply and purposefully had its own rewards. By retelling his life stories, I was able to appreciate the world around me from a different perspective. He, like many young men going into World War I, was a country farm boy with a 8th grade education. He was well-schooled during those years, and would often recite long poems by famous authors as we drove long distances in the car. Back then, though, an 24 year-old boy was big enough to work on the farm, and that’s what he did. After the war, he got a job with the postal service, and did that for his whole working life until he retired at 62 and moved to Florida from Ohio (my home state) with his wife, another of my heroes.

My grandfather was aware of his lack of education and made it his goal to read U.S. News and World Report every week (he was not a fast reader), so he could stay up to date on national and world events. He was always busy and a great problem-solver. If he couldn’t figure something out the first time, he’d work on it until he could. He rarely showed anger, and had a wry sense of humor. Always ready to help others, as he and his friends grew older, he often took people to the doctor or grocery shopping, or cut their lawns when ill health made it impossible for them to do so. If something needed doing, he’d volunteer for it.

During his lifetime he witnessed so many firsts and beginnings of the modern technological world: he remembers when he saw a car for the first time, the airplane, the telephone, electric lights, a radio, TV, power tools — so many things that made the twentieth century so important in history. His wonder at these inventions and changes, gave me a more awed view of them, too.

He and my grandmother were the kind of people I’ve tried model my life on, and I find their example even wiser as I now grow older: kindness, patience, perseverance, and hard work. Their calm, orderly life was always a comfort, and I like mine that way, too.

“To be really great in little things, to be truly noble and heroic in the insipid details of everyday life, is a virtue so rare as to be worthy of canonization.” 
Harriet Beecher Stowe