Papa Chandler

I make big promises and commitments to this blog, then life happens.  A very real and tender part of life happened these last two weeks as Ty’s maternal grandfather, better know as Papa, passed from this earth.  Papa was an integral and powerful person in Mr. Rancher’s life and his passing, while peaceful and necessary, was difficult to go through.  Ty was quite close to Papa and will miss him terribly.  We are thankful to know that this is not the end, that Papa is feeling better at last, and we will see him again someday.

I was privileged–and elected–to write the obituary and life sketch for the funeral.  Ty delivered the sketch and added some of his own personal stories to his talk.  He did a wonderful job speaking and gave a great tribute to his Papa.

Here is a copy of the life sketch, which is all the recreational writing I have managed over the last few weeks.

George Lawrence Chandler, better known as Laurie, was born on January 31, 1932.  He was the fourth child of Vernon and Naomi May Chandler.  He was born off of Ripple Rd. in Annex, Oregon.  Naomi often said that Laurie cried the whole first year of his life.  Vernon and Naomi’s children, in order of birth, are: Thelma, Frank, John, Laurie, Eldon, and Jean.

When Laurie was four years old, his parents bought their ranch on Monroe Creek just North of Weiser, Idaho.  Vernon and Naomi raised their family at this ranch as well as crops and cattle.  Laurie and his brothers, Frank and Eldon all helped their father with the work on the farm as well as custom farm work throughout Weiser.  In between Laurie’s Junior and Senior year of high school, he and his brothers were running a mobile hay baler, one of the first in the valley, when Laurie was caught under the wheels and run over.  He spent the whole summer in a full body cast, which was removed the day before school started again.  Papa always said this was when he knew his mother really loved him. Papa had one leg shorter than the other thanks to this accident.

Laurie attended school at Eastside School, Weiser Junior High, and Weiser High School which was then held in historic Hooker Hall.  He graduated from high school in 1950.  After high school, he was drafted into the Army to serve in the Korean War.  He served as a cook for two years.  Papa loved to talk about his time in the army and the people and cultures of Korea.  He was proud to have served his country, but did not want any recognition for this service.  Papa was a true patriot who felt his duty to his country very deeply.

After returning from the army, Laurie served a two year mission for The Church of Jesus of Christ of latter day saints in the Midwestern United States.  While on his mission, Laurie bought his first car, a gray Hudson Hornet which he used for missionary work and then drove home to Idaho.  Papa was so proud of this car.  He enjoyed his mission and the time spent serving the Lord.

Laurie met Zelda Ruth Froerer in 1958 on a blind date.  He knew he wanted to marry her after three dates.  Ruth took a little more convincing.  They were married on March 11, 1959 in the Idaho Falls Temple.  They drove the Hudson through California, Nevada, and Arizona for their honeymoon.

Laurie and Ruth began their married life on Monroe Creek and started to farm and run a Holstein dairy.  On January 19, 1960, their first daughter Cary Jill was born followed by Kimberley, Casey, Sue and Jennifer over the next nine years.  Laurie, Ruth, and the kids all worked together on the farm—there are pictures of babies on the feed wagon and cattle drives.  Laurie loved working with his children and grandchildren.  He would often say “come on kids, we’ll be back for supper.”  Papa was a hard worker and a very strong man.  He was 6’4” and spent most of his days scooping silage by hand, pitching hay by hand, and harvesting crops by hand.  He couldn’t stand to be idle and worked long hours every day.

Laurie loved agriculture of all kinds.  He worked in a feedlot in Payette scoopin’ silage in order to pay for his mission.  He helped his dad raise Hereford beef cattle and farm hay crops.  He ran his own successful dairy that milked 100 Holstein cattle and produced the hay and feed for the dairy on his farm ground.  Papa was especially proud of agricultural advancements and technology.  He started out with horse drawn hay mowers which then had to be pitched into wagons and the dumped into loose hay stacks.

It was a proud day when he bought his first tractor, an Olliver.  I remember bringing home my first GPS tractor a couple years ago, and showing it to Papa.  He was so amazed by the GPS system and controls of the tractor that really showed how far farming had progressed since his childhood.

Papa used horses to feed his cows in the winter.  He loved to ride horses as well.  Some of his favorites were Zephir and Bingo.  He also had a team of Welsh ponies, Star Fire and Red Cloud.  Papa made a small cart for these ponies to drive in parades.  I know I learned to love horses and respect their usefulness from Papa.  He always said he loved to ride because it made him feel young again.  He said “a horse makes me feel like I have fresh legs under me again.”

Papa loved riding out at the River, gathering cows with me and Casey.  He would tell Casey that the ride out was great, half of the ride back was great, but that last quarter of the ride was AWFUL!

Laurie was a committed member of the Church and held most positions within the Church.  He could see the hand of the Lord in all the nature around him.  He was fascinated with how the natural world worked and produced so much good for all of us to enjoy.  Papa was a deep thinker and always had deep questions about how the world was formed.  How the hills and valleys came to be and how the cows were able to take something so simple as grass and turn it into milk or prime beef.  He liked to have these deep conversations while riding horses together.  Laurie did not like to hunt, but did like to take pictures of wild life and ride in the hills to see nature in its raw beauty.

Laurie was also active in the Farm Bureau and served as the president of Washington County for several years.

Laurie did not like to travel or be part of large social events.  Nannie swears he was always late, on purpose, for Relief Society dinners or parties she wanted to attend.  While Laurie didn’t like travel, he supported Ruth traveling and helping the kids with 4-H projects.

Papa’s greatest accomplishment was the family of five children, 17 grandchildren, and 25 great grandchildren.  Papa liked to tell his grandchildren stories about his life and was a great storyteller.  He said “a story’s no good if you don’t add a little to it.”  He loved to weave humor into all his stories and embellish the details just enough to make them interesting.  All of us here today have stories about our time with Papa.  We know he loved us and loved to share time with us.  Even the babies know that they were special to Papa.  Papa was one of those men who loved babies and would help with all their care.

He was a great example to all of us about the importance of hard work, persistence, good humor, patriotism, family, and faith in Jesus Christ.  May we all do our best to live up to his legacy and love.

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After collecting memories and stories from family members, this life sketch was pretty easy to write.  My only regret is that it was written after Papa was coherent enough to talk about his own life.  It would be nice to hear directly from him, what his greatest accomplishments were and what he most wants us to remember about him.

Perhaps life histories and life sketches should be written before a person is about to leave this earth.  I can imagine a person’s reticence to writing their own obituary/life sketch, but perhaps if viewed more as a life history the process could be an enjoyable and rewarding one.  And what a legacy to leave for future generations!

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