[Ed.: I’ve added the full obituary at the end of the post; click on “Read More” to see it.]
The kindest and most decent man I’ve ever known, my Granddaddy Gordon Hartrick, shown here with Ella (admiring his beehives around ten years ago), with Cogie Ann, his late-in-life love, and with my Grandmother Alma (on their honeymoon), died peacefully yesterday in his home in the Arkansas Ozarks. We’re playing Elizabeth Mitchell’s version of “Down in the Valley” this week in his memory.
He was the most curious and smartest person in any room (those facts were not unrelated), he had a remarkable breadth and depth of interests and knowledge, and he was filled with joy regarding just about everything. He cared and loved deeply.
It is no coincidence that one of his last words was “joy,” spoken of his children — likely both his children and the broader category, including the many foster children and other children that he and my grandmother Alma cared for (something that resulted in the Klan burning a cross in their yard, as my grandmother had the humanity to bring a burnt black child to the clinic for treatment). He rejoiced in the delights of the world, of nature, of his friends, of his family.
There will be an obituary [after the jump] — and his life’s details were remarkable (CCC, riding the rails, forestry, beekeeping, and so much more) — but it all comes down, for me, to joy. Joy in all things.
Every time I sign something with my middle name (Gordon) or fill out a form with Liam’s middle name (also Gordon) — and every time I fill out something with Ella’s middle name (Alma) — I am honored to be associated with him and my Grandmother, and hope we are worthy successors to their names and their lives.
Even at 98, it feels too early for him to be gone.