Dear Grandma

Dear Mom,
You have been patient you have been kind but best of all you are mine! I was blessed the day God looked at me with his hand rubbing his chin and said, “I believe you need a special women who can keep up with you, teach you to be kind and to do the right thing.” “You need a mother who can appreciate your spirit but still lovingly teach you how to control it and use it for good”, said God. So God look down at all the earth and found the perfect mother for me, you.

The first year I was in your care I was allergic to the milk that would keep me thriving, your care and patience kept me going until I was able to eat solid foods. Around the age of 6 I was so sick with just about everything and had to miss many weeks of school, you nursed me back to health. The patience you must have needed to keep me in bed and, still so that I could heal had to be hard to keep up. Thank you.

As I began to want my independence you had to really keep an eye on my activities. Was I hanging with the right people, making good decisions? Helping me with my homework was no easy or fun task…. Bless you for those times.

Growing into adulthood you helped me grow into adulthood with your words of wisdom of life as an adult woman.

I am a mother now, oh how you loved my children. You let them cut whenever they wanted, hugging them and telling them over and over how wonderful they are and how much you love them. That is the best gift that a daughter could ever ask of her mother, to love her children as you do.

Now a great grandmother to my five grandchildren you have stepped into the realm of the most kind, gentle, and unconditional love a person can show, just like our wonderful God who put us together in the first place. It was his decision to put us together on this journey called life and I thank him every day for that. My life would have looked so much different if I hadn’t had you. I shiver to think what I would have been like without a loving mom as you. Thank you for molding me into a person that I know is loved and who loves my own self.
I love you very much!

Hey Grandma!

There is so much that I can say here. I’m having troubles choosing what to say first. Well, actually that is the easy part, I love you.

You and grandpa have started traditions that will be carried on for generations to come. You have passed down multiple different recipes like your apple pie, spaghetti and stuffing. You have shown us what it means to truly love and take care of people. You have given us a home to vacation to. These are just a few of the things that you have started that I am very proud to pass down to Jonah and Arthur.

The best of the things you are passing down is your compassion. Whenever you saw someone in need, trouble or down you were always there to help. I remember when we were vacationing in Savannah, taking a tour of the city. We had just finished lunch at Panera and we tossed some of our drinks in the trash. A homeless man came up to the trash can, dug out one of the pops, took a drink and said “you feel that?!? It’s still cold!!” with a large smile on his face. You saw all of that happen and immediately felt for him. You reached into your purse and gave him a couple of dollars so that he could “buy some warm food to go along with his cold drink.” I know you may not remember that, mostly because you help people in his similar situation all the time, but that will forever have an impact on me.

You continually living out your compassion has truly affected me and given me a road map on how to also help others. Thank you so much for that, Grandma.

Our 2017 Christmas was one to remember. But the best thing that could have happen did. You sat me down in Nana and Bobo’s office and had a conversation with me. That conversation plays in my head daily. You truly listened to me, heard me and helped me. I still don’t know the true reason why I was struggling, but with your help I was able to get it together and become a better man. Out of that conversation came a pact between us, to pray for each other every day. I try my best to do that, but sometimes I forget. I know that there is no way you miss a day. Grandma, thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with me, level with me and be honest with me. Relationships (looking form the outside in) can look too easy sometimes. You and grandpa do a great job of that. But you being honest with me and providing a small window really gave me some great perspective. Thank you so much for that, Grandma.

All in all, you have set our families up for success. You provide love, wisdom and compassion to every single one of us. You relate to us, understand us and love us unconditionally. Thank you so much for that, Grandma.

Words cannot express how much you mean to me and my family. I hope you know that.

Love you-

Grandma –

It’s hard to point to any one single memory that left the most lasting impact on my life. There are so many! I think what strikes me the most about my Grandma is that it was and is always her. I have always known that she loved me. I have always known that she cared for me. I have always know that she would protect me and guard me no matter what. She has always been my biggest cheerleader. My greatest supporter in the lows and highs of life but most importantly, in everyday life. Grandma has always been a combination of the most sweetest and most fire-iest person in the room. One minute she is in awe of me or my family and then without skipping a beat she is dropping a hilarious, sometimes out of nowhere, joke that cracks everyone up. Grandma has always made it a point to encourage me wherever I am at in my life and she has brought that encouragement without pause to Jake, James, Landon and Thalia.

Grandma, you have given me a home. I don’t know if you even realize that, but when I “go home” that’s going to your house. The time I have spent at your house is far more memorable than the time we have spent swimming and boating. It’s the time we have spent chatting on the porch, cooking in the kitchen and just relaxing in the living room. It’s also a safe place…our safe place. We can go there and just “be” and know full and well that that is more than enough.

Grandma, I love you so much and hope you know how much I admire you. I pray that my marriage will stand the test of time with such beauty as yours has. I pray that I can do for my grandchildren and great grandchildren even half of what you have done for me. I love you, Grandma!


Grandma Woodall (said in the voices of James, Landon & Thalia)!!

Thank you for welcoming me into the family from the first time we met! Nobody knew where Tori and I’s relationship would go, but it didn’t matter to her. I was important to Tori, therefore I was important to her! She has continued this care and love for me throughout my being apart of her family. It doesn’t matter what is going on, Grandma is a constant pillar of support, love and great food :)!!

At the lake, there are so many memories with Grandma, but 3 stand out for me. For as long as i can remember, there are 2 constants at the lake, Cherry Pie and Potato Salad without onions! Two of my favorites! She would always have these for me, knowing how much I enjoyed eating them! Its not just that she would have them, its that she knew how picky of an eater I was and went the extra mile to make sure she had specific food for me, the grandson-in-law. Another wonderful memory is when Bobo brings out the guitar, watching the joy it brought to Grandma was priceless. At any moment she may stand and dance or at least rock in her chair with her fins to the left, fins to the right! Tori and Grandma against Grandpa and I in hand and foot would show all sides of Grandma…you would see the sweetness when she apologized for leaving you with a red 3, but at the same time you know she is a competitor and just stuck it to you! The next moment, she does it again, Grandpa makes a quip about it and the giggles come on hard and heavy! All in the matter of a few minutes we would get to see what makes Grandma beautiful…her passion, her compassion, her sense of humor and her love for family!

Grandma, the passion you show for Tori and I has shown through for our kids as well. As a parent, there is nothing better than to watch your little ones crawl into Grandma’s lap and snuggle in! I appreciate everything you have done for me and my family! I love you Grandma!


Mom –

You live your life with love and grace.

Your smile lights up a room. You have a tremendous love for people. Your laugh and sense of humor are infectious. You play a killer game of hand and foot.

You provide a tremendous example to your extended family of how to live with joy and compassion.
You made a terrific pick for a husband many years ago, and since then you have been a tremendous Gracie to his George. Or is it the other way around – you’re the straight man and Grandpa is the never-know-what-he’s-going-to-say-next guy. The two of you make, and have always made, a terrific team.

You’ve welcomed me and all my friends with open arms all my life. When I was a teenager, I would frequently be late practicing with the guys downstairs, because you and I were chatting upstairs. I enjoyed those talks a lot. And thanks for sending the cute blond downstairs with popcorn.

Tori and Alex adore you. You have been so kind, so loving, and so consistent with them their entire lives. If you look up Perfect Grandma in the dictionary, your picture will be there. You care deeply for them, enjoy spending time with them, and give the best hugs. They know you are always there for them and you support them in everything they do. You have accepted Jee Hoon, Susan and Makayla into our family and helped them experience the love you have always given to your natural family.

You have accepted my siblings as part of the family. When Bob and Kathie come to the lake, they feel just as at home as our family does. They love you too.

It’s always been fun watching you interact with your friends. You have established long relationships with terrific people. We enjoy spending time with you and Grandpa and your friends.

Jayme and I really enjoy spending time with you and Grandpa. You always enjoy hearing the updates of what’s going on in our and the kids’ lives. We enjoy playing cards, listening to the music from your earlier years, and just chatting about all the latest happenings.

I know you are always there for me. Whether it’s celebrating the great moments, or battling through the tough ones, you are such a comfort to me. I know you will love me no matter what. That is a terrific gift you give me. And I love you a ton as well.

You are a terrific person, mom. Thank you for all you do for me and my family. I look forward to many more of those terrific hugs to come!

I love you!

Summer Camp Outs

Summer days were hot in Kansas but oh those summer nights….

Living on Mechanic Street in Towanda, Kansas was a great place for summer camp outs. Some of my favorite memories were made in the back yard of Lora Gurney. Lora lived two houses down from me with her two older siblings Linda and Larry.  Lora’s house was such fun for me, there always seem to have a litter of kittens being born, had copper cups that made the water I drank so cold and have such a great taste. Oh, and the best thing for me was when Lora’s camper refrigerator was full of hot dogs from Oklahoma. What made the Oklahoma hots dogs so tasty? I really don’t know but they were red and chilled just perfectly for a tasty snack under the stars on a warm summer evening.
Our camp outs consisted of flashlights, lawn chaise lounges, pillows and sleeping bags. An occasional bag of chips and maybe a few Ding Dongs or Twinkies would make its way to our camp out courtesy of my dad, thanks dad. Lora and I would set up our lounge chairs side by side in her backyard facing away from her house looking out towards the edge of town where light was scarce and you could see the stars sparkling in the dark sky. We would begin our night talking in a rapid speed about everything and anything that came to mind. As an adult I think back about those conversations I realize laying under the darkness of the sky with the stars dancing in front of us gave both of us a sense of security. Security of the physical kind knowing that God had a perfect view of us with just the stars above us, and that we were under his protection.  But more profoundly we shared the security  of conversation. Knowing that what we talked about would be accepted by the other with each giving comfort to the hard things we feared or mourned. Caring advice as to how to handle certain situations that preteens go through in life. Dreaming about our future careers, children and spouses, what would it look like to be an adult? We also did a lot of laughing. Oh my I can still feel the pain in my belly from laughing with Lora. Those nights are filled with what true friendship looks like to me.
As the night became late we would drift to sleep with the satisfaction of great conversation with a trusted friend. Around 4 a.m. I would wake up with the cool of dew beginning to fall on any of my exposed skin and I would slide my body parts into the sleeping bag, by 6 a.m. the sun would begin to show its light and cars begin to head to work so I would slide as deep as I could into the sleeping bag and still leave a little crack to breath in fresh air. Soon to wake up with Lora smiling at me with muffy hair and me reflecting that smile back with hair all tied in knots stretching and reminiscing of the previous nights events. “Did we really eat 8 hot dogs a piece?”
Folding up our bedding and lounge chairs we both would head to our own houses for breakfast. My mom would ask, how was your night? I would tell her it was fun and then begin to share with her some of the jokes I learned that night before and talk about the dew that woke me so early in the morning. All was good as it should be after a night with a friend such as Lora.

Wheat Harvest

In 1954, my good friends Johnny Ramp and Eldon Province went to Pond Creek, Oklahoma to go on wheat harvest for Eldon’s cousin, this was the last of May. They needed another combine operator on the crew, so they came back to Latham to see if I wanted to go, which l did. We drove back to Oklahoma and we went to work getting the equipment ready for wheat harvest.

The man we were working for was Omar Skaggs and he had four combines and four trucks as well as a trailer house and a bunk house with metal bunk army cots for the crew. Omar’s wife was our cook and she and Omar stayed in the trailer house. When we were in the fields cutting wheat they would bring our meals to us, otherwise we would eat in the trailer house.

When we moved to another location, we loaded the combines on the trucks and the header of the combines were raised so they would be just a few inches above the cab of the truck. We would load up with combines loaded, a pickup pulling the bunk house and a pickup pulling the trailer house, quite a parade on the road. I was a combine operator but when we were moving I was driving a truck that was loaded and top heavy. When we were not cutting wheat we didn’t get paid but did get room and board. The combine operators were paid 12 dollars a day and the truck drivers were paid 10 dollars a day. Johnny and I were combine operators and Eldon was a truck driver.

We cut Omar’s wheat and some of his friends around the area, then we loaded up and headed to western Kansas. Eldon decided that he didn’t want to go on further so he went back home. We worked our way through Kansas, some of the customers were people Omar had cut for several years. He was always calling ahead, getting more acres as we moved north. We left Kansas and cut into northeast Colorado then into Wyoming and back into Nebraska.  It wasn’t unusual to have a big deer jump up as you were cutting in these areas.

We moved into South Dakota then into North Dakota. Omar always made arraignments to park our bunk house next to a place that had bathroom and bath privileges such as a local hotel. We left the Dakotas and moved into Montana which I thought was a lovely state. The wheat was not ready, but we were at a ranch of twin brothers and they had bailed hay that they need to be brought into the barn so we hauled hay for a couple of days. The school kids that lived in the country made arrangements to stay in town during the winter so they could get to school.

While we were in Montana, Johnny and I drove to see Custer’s last stand. We would try to see things in the area we were working when we could. When we got paid, I would cash my check and send most of it home by money order and mom would put it in the bank. We were at Helena, Montana and near the Canada border around September 10. Johnny was to start his senior year and school had already started, so both of us quit and the crew went on up into Canada. Johnny wanted to hitch hike to Oklahoma with our stuffed duffle bags, I said it’s the train for me so we both rode the train to Ponca City, Oklahoma which is twenty miles back to where Johnny’s car was. We left our heavy bags at the train station and started walking. We walked past other hitch hikers as we walked the 18 miles of the highway, then turned onto a gravel road and walked another mile and caught a ride the last mile. We arrived at the Skaggs farm to find a flat tire on Johnny’s car. We changed the tire and drove twenty miles to the train station to get our luggage then headed back to Kansas. We both were glad we didn’t ride our thumbs from Montana.

Famous People

I haven’t had too many interactions with famous people, but the ones that have been special to me are the following:

George H. W. Bush, when he was running for President and when he was Vice-president. We were fortunate to spend an entire evening with him. When he was Vice-president, we went to hear him speak at the Spencer YMCA and sat in the front row. Erin and Joel each got to ask him a question and their questions and his answers were replayed on radio and mentioned in the newspaper. Erin asked what his favorite part of his job was – answer: “All the people!” Joel asked how many Secret Service men he traveled with – answer: “I’ll ask,” and he turned around and asked a Secret Service, and then said, “about 10!”

George W. Bush – we met him at the airport when he was running for President the first time – such a man of humility. He patiently posed for pictures with us, which we still treasure today.  I remember wanting to post the picture explaining that knowing me was the reason that he won, however that year it took more than a month to certify the victory so I had to wait patiently.

Hakeem Olajuwon – NBA Basketball player – We were placed at the same table with him at a Japanese hibachi restaurant in Minneapolis. The Houston Rockets, his team, had just played the Minnesota Timberwolves, and he had come to this restaurant by himself for dinner. I remember him walking in the restaurant – and he was dressed in a beautiful suit and expensive shoes and was incredibly tall. I asked Poppy what he thought this man did. Poppy answered, “When you are that tall, you play basketball.” A few minutes later they called our names for our table and Hakeem Olajuwon – even though I didn’t recognize him in person, I immediately knew who he was as I had followed his college career and NBA career sports stories. He came to the US from Nigeria for college and was very, very good. He was a soft-spoken individual and stayed at our table for a short time before a Timberwolves player spotted him and invited him to go to their table. It was pretty thrilling for me.

Nikita Khrushchev – This man was the dictator of the Soviet Union in the 1950’s and part of the 60’s. He came to the U.S. and threatened to “bury us” in a speech at the United Nations, and then toured Iowa, coming to Iowa State University. He was in a parade of sorts right in front of Grandpa Hazen’s office, and I remember his car passing so close to my feet that I thought I was going to get run over. He was fat and bald, smiling and waving. But we were all afraid of him.

Because Iowa has the first in the nation caucus we also had a chance to see Vice President Walter Mondale, President Ronald Reagan, and Senator Bob Dole.  When Bob Dole came he went to our church and Joel and his men’s quartet sang the national anthem for him.

Liza Minnelli – When my brother Chris was appearing on Broadway in “Fool Moon” I was supposed to meet him at the stage door and when I did, I bumped into a lady I said excuse me and it was Liza Minnelli.

My Career

As I look back on my life I have discovered many events and people that influenced my career path.

My Dad was self employed as a hog buyer for the Omaha packing houses. I don’t remember him working very hard, but I do remember that he didn’t work 9-5.
I began my entrepreneurship by doing lots of odd jobs for my grandmothers. I remember getting paid the same for picking up something at the store or digging out a 20 year old lilac bush. The good news was that I always had money for anything I needed. I always had money where my brothers didn’t.
When I was 11 I started mowing yards for my grandparents ($ .75) and my uncle who owned the funeral home (he paid $1.75). I decided to expand my business and I needed to buy my own mower. Mom and I went to Sears in Atlantic and bought one for $29. I had $9 and I borrowed $20 from my grandmother Wagler. I paid her back by mowing her yard. The great thing was I would mow her yard she would give me $1 credit and then give me a $ .25 tip. I mowed about 10 yards for the next 3 summers.
My first outside job was with Tom Sharples as a surveyor’s assistant. I held the stick so the surveyor could make sure the tiling in his farm went downhill. I’ll never forget that check for $31 ($1.25/hour). He hired me for a few other jobs.
My dream job at that time was to work at Ross’s Super Valu grocery store. There I learned to work hard, never sit still and that the customer is always right.

College Leadership
Tom Hyland

awn mowing business
Ames Fruit & Grocery
Northwest Mutual
Provident Mutual
Hawkeye Bancorp
Frank Insurance
Chapman Realty
Frank Realty
Beacon Microcenter
Computer Systems
NetStar Internet
Emagine Marketing
The OxyStore
Frank Marketers

My Cars

didn’t have a car in high school, however my Dad bought a new car EVERY year. They were always very plain Chevrolets and usually white. Also he never put 10,000 miles on any car he owned because we never went anywhere any distance away. Fortunately for me my junior year of high school there was a strike by the Chevy autoworkers and the only car that came in was a 1965 Chevy Super Sport with bucket seats and floor shift and he took that car instead of waiting for his ordered vehicle.
So, my Saturday night car for that full year was one of the coolest cars on the street.
I never had any desire to own fancy cars so most of the cars I drove were pretty plain. My first car was a 1959 Plymouth Belvedere, black with big fins. I called my Dad from ISU and asked him to get the $125 that I had in savings ($50 that I won in a drawing when I was 12 at “bank night” at the movie theater) and find a car for me. So the first time I saw it was when I got home for summer break, and it was all shined up and really beautiful.
Mary and I had a 1969 for Maverick that Dad bought new that year for $1,995. He sold it to me in 1971 and Mary was rear-ended in the fall of 1973 and it was totaled.
The rest of the cars had no great stories to tell.


Growing up

Once a year we went to Omaha to the Cinerama which was introduced in the 50’s which was 3 synchronized projectors on a curved screen (movies were a big deal in our family). Aside from Sound of Music, none of them were memorable.
Trip to Rocky Mountain Park – One of the memories that I have of that trip was walking around Bear Lake in my new cowboy boots and ending up with blisters.
Black Hills
Great trip and I remember having bad hay fever even when I went down in the Cave of the Winds.
We took the train into see uncle Bud and we saw all the museums and I think that is where I got my love for museums.
We spent a week in Okoboji at a small cabin.
Then I got married and within 3 years I visited more countries than US States.

Early married

later Travels


Boyne City

One of my favorite memories as a kid was taking an annual or bi-annual trip to Boyne City to visit family. Mimi would take myself, cousin Terha, Nicole and Stephanie to Boyne City to visit our Aunt Gaynelle, Uncle Dan and cousins Jonah, Jacob and Joey. She loved going there a few times a year and it was always a great getaway for us kids. We would go during school vacations or summer vacations.

The car rides were always memorable. We would all either meet at Mimi’s house in Oxford or she would pick some of us up at our houses. From there, we would drive up I-75 north. The alphabet game started and always ended by the Zilwaukee bridge unless we saw a license plate with a Z on it. Other car games included guessing the title and artist of the song on the radio and the question box. Mimi was always the one person we could tell anything to so as kids so we took it upon ourselves to put ‘anonymous’ questions in a box for her to answer. These ranged from how Mimi and Papa met to who her favorite kid was (She has 9) haha.

One of the things I’ll always remember is stopping at the Cracker Barrel for lunch on the way there or on the way home. Papa would give Mimi 4 film containers filled with quarters to give each of us. That was his way of being with us. We would have lunch then use our quarters in the giftshop. It was always a treat!

When we were at Aunt Gaynelle and Uncle Dan’s house, it was always a blast. There was always something going on as they ran a daycare during the day. If we went on the weekends, we would go to church with them. We would get into adventures with the boys, either playing outside, playing with their black lab named Dozer, or going to the beach. We would get into heated tournaments of Mario Cart. Someone always ended up getting blisters on their palms from the competition games. They lived about a mile from Lake Charlevoix and on good days at the right time of year, you could see the lake from their front yard. We would travel into Petosky occasionally to shop in the downtown stores and have lunch. It was quite a handful to have 6 kids in one house plus 3 adults but it was always a blast.

We continued this tradition until we all were in high school and started to spend our vacations with friends instead of family. This was such a great tradition I am happy we did as a family.



Meeting my husband was the last thing on my mind during a girl’s night at a Blake Shelton concert at DTE Energy Music Theater. Earlier on that hot June day in 2010, I went fishing with my Dad to celebrate Father’s Day. This was something fun that we loved to do and would soon be something that Jeffrey loved to do with my Dad too. Back to getting ready. I got on my favorite dark denim jeans and floral crop tank top with my perfectly broke in cowboy boots. My Mom was helping me perfect my look as she usually would do when I was headed out. I was waiting on the girls to show up to my house and then we would meet the rest there. Terha, Whitney and Stephanie showed up, we took the obligatory group picture and then we were on our way.
We made it to Clarkston and met up with the rest of the group. Our two vows for the night were to use the buddy system and no boys. This was a girls night after all! We got our drinks poured, music on in the car and we hung out in the parking lot before going in to the concert. About 15 minutes in, a girl came over and said we looked fun and that she wanted to start a block party so come over to their truck a row over. Whitney, being the outgoing, party-girl she was, headed over as fast as she could. As her buddy, I was forced to follow her. Needless to say, I was not very happy. We all eventually ended up at the tailgate of a Chevy truck owned by our future best man of our wedding, Kyle Schaenzer. Sitting on that tailgate was a handsome sandy blonde guy, Jeffrey. Whitney parked it next to him and asked if they had some Captain Morgan rum that she was promised earlier. His response was ‘Only if you get that pretty blonde to come over here.’ As Whitney states, On cue, you saunter over in your daisy dukes.’ Jeff hands Whitney the Captain Morgan from the cooler and we start chatting. This backstory was only later revealed to me. I was pretty unpleasant company for about half of the night since one of our two rules had been broken and I was really looking forward to a night with my best girls.
I tried to give up my attitude and chatted with our new friends. We all headed into the concert and set up camp on the hill altogether. We danced the night away and found out more about the guys. Jeff was a police officer at the time. My cousin, Stephanie, was completely enamored with this and had so many questions for him as the night progressed. One of the fun facts, and probably a pick up line to see me again, was that they could get free vouchers for future concerts. I hate to admit it but in the moment, that sold me and I uncharacteristically put my phone number in his phone.
The concert ended and it didn’t take him very long to text me. For the longest time, my name in his phone was ‘Daisy,’ a nod to my attire for that night. From then on, our friendship grew and our two groups of friends hung out all summer long. To this day, we still hang out frequently, Adren and Kyle were the best men in our wedding, Terha was the maid of honor, Adren and Terha are the Godparents of our son Liam, Lisa is the Godmother to our son Lucas and the others are still important parts of our lives. I love looking back on this night and seeing where it went and how it has ended up for us so far. Meeting my best friend and husband is certainly one of my fondest memories.