Ancient Family History
This is a history lesson that will illustrate how our German family
heritage intertwines with the greater arena of the history of all
mankind of all the ages. The following is a unique (and
sometimes necessarily subjective) perspective of my roots, based upon
the Bible and other historical and family documents. It
covers the period from the time of the creation of Adam, through the
end of the 19th century, A.D.
I believe that the Bible teaches the following historical
- God created Adam: 4241 B.C.,
and Adam died in 3311 B.C.
- Adam's son, Seth: 4111 B.C.
- 3304 B.C.
- Seth's son, Enosh: 4006 B.C.
- 3101 B.C.
- Enosh's son, Kenan: 3916
B.C. - 3006 B.C.
- Kenan's son, Mahalel: 3846
B.C. - 2951 B.C.
- Mahalel's son, Jared: 3781
B.C. - 2819 B.C.
- Jared's son, Enoch: 3619
B.C. - God raptured Enoch in 3254 B.C.
- Enoch's son, Methusaleh:
3554 B.C. - 2585 B.C.
- Mehthsaleh's son, Lamech:
3367 B.C. - 2590 B.C.
- Lamech's son, Noah: 3185
B.C. - 2235 B.C.
- Noah's son, Japheth: 2685
B.C. - 2083 B.C. (11th generation)
The great flood occurred in 2585 B.C., and up until this time, all
these ancestors had lived their entire lives in a small part of what we
now know as the Middle East, in or near Iraq. After the great
flood, a new civilization began on Mount Ararat in Turkey:
- Japheth's son, Gomer: 2583
B.C. - 2145 B.C.
- Gomer's son, Ashkenaz: 2548
B.C. - 2115 B.C. (13th generation)
The clans of Ashkenaz migrated northward into what is now Turkey and
Iran, then north of the Black Sea, toward northern Europe.
Approximately seven more generations passed to the time of Abraham in
the 2200's B.C. (the 20th generation), and then approximately 14 more
generations passed to the time of David in 1000 B.C. (to the 34th
In about 1000 B.C., when David was King of Israel, my ancestors began
to migrate from northern Europe to what is now Germany.
During the 100's B.C., they moved south to the Rhine and Danube rivers,
the frontier of Rome. The Romans called all the tribes
Germani, though other tribes included the Cimbri, Franks, Goths, and
Vandals. The Romans called the tribes' land
Germania. From the time of King David until the time of
Christ, approximately 28 more generations of the clans of Ashkenaz had
passed (to the 62nd generation).
In A.D. 9, Rome attempted to conquer Germany, but Germanic warriors
crushed the Roman armies. The Romans built a wall, called The
Limes, to protect their possessions south of the Danube from attacks by
Germanic tribes. During the 400's A.D., Germanic
tribes poured into the weakened West Roman Empire and broke it up into
tribal kingdoms. The kingdom of the Franks became the largest
and most important.
In 486, Clovis, a Frankish king, defeated the Roman governor of Gaul
(now France). Clovis extended the boundaries of his territory
by defeating other Germanic tribes in Gaul and parts of western
Germany. He became a Christian, and also introduced many
Roman ways of life into his kingdom.
The greatest Frankish ruler, Charlemagne, came to power in 768 and
expanded his kingdom east to the Elbe River. In 800, Pope Leo
III crowned him emperor of the Romans. In 843, the Treaty of
Verdun divided Charlemagne's empire into three kingdoms, one for each
of his grandsons. Louis II (called The German) received the
lands east of the Rhine River, and his kingdom became what is now
In 611, the German branch of the Frankish royal family died
out. By then, the German kingdom consisted of the powerful
Duchies (territories ruled by a duke)--Bavaria, Lorraine, Franconia,
Saxony, and Swabia. The German dukes elected Conrad I of
Franconia as king. In 919, Conrad was succeeded as king by
Henry I (the Fowler) of Saxony, whose family ruled until
1024. With the founding of the Saxon dynasty, Germany became
permanently separated from France.
Henry's son, Otto I (The Great), drove invading Hungarians out of
southern Germany in 955, and extended the German frontier in the
north. Otto also won control over the old middle Frankish
kingdom, which gave him the right to claim the title of
emperor. In 962, Otto was crowned emperor in Rome.
This marked the beginning of what later was called the Holy Roman
The Holy Roman Empire, under the Saxon emperors, became the most
powerful country in Europe. But under the Salian dynasty
(1024-1125), a long power struggle began that left the empire weak and
disorganized. In 1075, Pope Gregory VII disputed the right of
Emperor Henry IV to appoint bishops. Many German princes
sided with the pope, and fought a series of civil wars against the
emperor, and by the 14th century, the emperor was almost
The Hohenstaufen emperors (1138-1254) reestablished some order, but
then great disorder returned. The German princes elected
Rudolf I of Hasburg as emperor in 1273. The reign of the
Hasburgs was confirmed in 1438. In 1517, the Reformation
began in Germany. From 1618 to 1648, the Thirty Years' War
devastated much of Germany. Then there was no central power,
and Germany had hundreds of states ruled by princes and
During the 17th century, the Hohenzollern family began its rise to the
leadership of a united Germany. Frederick William (the Great
Elector) ruled the state of Brandenburg and the Duchy of Prussia, and
Berlin was his capital. He built up the dynasty's lands, and
in 1701, his son, Frederick I, took the title of king, and his entire
state became known as Prussia. Prussia's power continued to
grow under the next two kings, Frederick William I and Frederick II
After Frederick the Great became king in 1740, he seized Silesia, a
rich province of Austria. This invasion led to two wars, the
War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) and the Seven Years' War
(1756-1763). After these two wars, whole regions of Germany
lay devastated, and poverty was widespread. Commerce and
manufacturing had suffered heavily, and little faith was put in the
peace just concluded. To many German farmers, emigration
became a preferable choice.
There was at this time a vast treeless plain along the Volga River in
Central Russia which had been inhabited for centuries by the Tartars
and other semi-savage nomadic tribes. It was also a refuge
for criminals and escaped serfs. The Russian government had
tried unsuccessfully to colonize this area with Russian settlers in
order to establish a bulwark against these tribes. Then, on
July 22, 1763, Catherine II of Russia issued a Manifesto inviting
people of other nationalities to settle this Volga area. She
hoped to attract the German farmers, with their advanced methods of
agriculture, to spur on the Russian peasantry.
The privileges extended to German colonists included:
religious freedom, short of evangelism; exemption from military
service; a homestead of land; control over their own churches and
schools; nearly complete autonomy in local government; free
transportation to Russia; tax exemption for ten years; and
As a result, beginning in 1763, thousands of Germans migrated from
Hesse, Saxony, the Palatinate, Westphalia, Swabia, Baden, Wuerttenburg,
and Bavaria in Germany, to the area near Saratov and Samara along the
Volga River in Russia. By 1768, over 23,000 Germans had made
the journey, and emigration from Germany was halted by the German
government. By this time, 104 German colonies had been
established; 59 on the eastern side of the Volga River, and 45 on the
Since the time of Christ, approximately 54 more generations of the
ancient clans of Ashkenaz had passed. Probably in the first
part of the 18th century, my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather
was born (among the 116th generation of mankind), and he was probably
one of the German men who brought his family to Russia between 1763 and
1768. My great-great-great-great-grandfather was born about
this time, and my great-great-great-grandfather (the 118th generation)
was probably born in Russia in about 1795.
The new paradise in Russia quickly became a paradise lost, as these
Germans found themselves virtually cut off from the world on the
eastern border of civilization. They suffered wood shortages,
crop failures, wolf attacks, and epidemics of malaria, typhoid fever,
and smallpox. Their villages were pillaged by the native
tribes and criminals. Women were raped and sold into the
harems of wealthy Mohammedans. Old men were tied to the tails
of horses and dragged to death. Entire villages were sold
into slavery. Some of the Germans built garrisons with
ramparts and trenches around their villages for protection.
Yet, the Germans probably wanted only to be left alone to their hard
work as farmers.
In addition, the Germans were persecuted by Russians who were jealous
of their special privileges. As a result of barriers of race,
language, and religion, the Germans remained isolated from the mass of
the nation of Russia.
The 19th century brought crop failures, famine, and land shortages due
to increased population. In 1866, the nation of Russia
curtailed the Germans' control over their own schools and religion, and
in 1871 it abolished their exemption from military service.
Immediately, the young men who would have been drafted began to leave
the country. Knowledge of the economic opportunities in the
United States was conveyed through German newspapers printed in the
U.S. As a result, in 1872, the Germans began migrating in
masses from the Volga River to the U.S., and this continued until the
outbreak of World War I. They found many of the same barriers
in America, and many were considered outcasts, but the masses
Great-Great-Grandpa Jacob Weber
My great-great-grandfather, Jacob Weber (among the 119th generation of
mankind), was born in Russia on February 13th, 1818, and he was reared
in the Lutheran faith. In 1876, he brought his family to the
United States. They first settled in Lincolnville and
Dorrance, Kansas, and later in Blaine County, Oklahoma (Okeene is in
Blaine County). Jacob made musical instruments from wood,
including violins, mandolins, pianos, and dulcimers, as well as
furniture, cabinets, and toys.
A long-standing family rumor says that Jacob invented a railroad boxcar
coupler, carved a wooden replica, and paid his neighbor, O. Burnell, to
take it to the U.S. Patent Office, because Jacob couldn't speak
English. The story includes Mr. Burnell stealing the patent
and later making a deathbed confession. Supposedly the patent
was secured but the man who presented it died before receiving any
money from it, so the money was put in a trust fund. Of
course, family members have always been hopeful of becoming the
rightful owners of this now-huge sum of money. One variation
of the story would even entitle the family to the land on which the
Empire State Building sets today. Jacob Weber died on March
22, 1906, at the age of 88, and I have visited his gravesite in
Peaceful Cemetery near Southard, OK.
Great-Grandpa David Weber (My Grandpa Weber's father)
Jacob and his wife, Mary Barbara Heinze (1819-1889), had eleven
children in Russia. They brought the five youngest ones with
them to the United States, but the others either suffered untimely
deaths, or couldn't afford the trip when Jacob came. Among
them was my great-grandfather, David Weber (among the 120th generation
of mankind), who did come to the U.S. in 1881. They lost two
of their seven children at sea, and another after arriving in
Kansas. In the U.S., they had three more children, the first
of which was Adam, my grandfather, who was born in Kansas in
1882. The entire Weber clan soon settled in Blaine County,
Oklahoma. David Weber was born in 1848, and died in January,
1921 (the year my dad was born) at age 72. His wife, Mary
Catherine Weber, was born in 1849 and died in September, 1936 at age
Great-Grandpa Nusz (My Grandma Weber's father)
My great-grandfather, George Peter Nusz, was born on May 14th, 1855 in
Dobrinka, Russia. In 1877 he served in the war between Russia
and Turkey (see attached photo). My great-grandmother, Mary
Katherine Wolf, was born in Dobrinka in 1858. They were
married in 1874, and they had seven children while still living in
Russia. In 1886 they traveled by ship to the United
During the journey, their baby, John, was deathly ill. They
believed that if he died, he would have to be buried at sea, so they
hid him in a suitcase for the last two days of the trip. The
baby recovered and lived until 1968, and I knew this man.
When I was about 10 years old, my Grandma Weber (John's sister) and I
visited Great-Uncle John and Aunt Sarah at their home in
Enid. I will always remember that visit because I was
intrigued by Uncle John's long white beard. I had never seen
a beard so long, dragging on Uncle John's belly. My Grandma
sensed that I was fascinated with his beard, and she and Uncle John
assured me it would be OK if I touched it. When I did, my
Uncle John seemed to be the culmination of Santa Claus and Father Time,
and from that day on I always thought of Uncle John as an icon of
wisdom. He died on August 5th, 1968.
George and Mary Katherine Wolf Nusz settled first in Marion and Bliss,
Kansas, and later near Isabella and Okeene, Oklahoma, and they had
seven more children, 14 in all. Their first child born in the
U.S. was my Grandma, Emma Nusz, born on Valentine's Day in
1989. George Nusz worked on the railroad for ten cents per
hour, and he was a farmer, a grocer, and a preacher, and he even
founded a church near Okeene. Mary did house work for 25
cents per day for a banker's wife. George Peter Nusz died in
1920 at the age of 65. Mary Nusz was born in 1858, and died
in 1933 at the age of 75.
Another one of my great uncles was Uncle Dave (Nusz), born in Russia in
1882. Uncle Dave was an eccentric character. When I
was young, Dad would take me to visit him. He too intrigued
me, but I always went to his house with mixed emotions because it was
broken down and filthy. It only had a couple of rooms, and
part of the house had dirt floors. It wasn't unusual to be
visiting with Uncle Dave while a large rat searched for food in the
corner of the room. Nevertheless, Uncle Dave was fun because
he had a love for music, even if he lacked the accompanying talent to
make his music interesting to anyone other than an awed country
boy. Uncle Dave would play the dulcimer and harmonica, and he
would sing and visit with my Dad in their native German
tongue. My Dad said that Uncle Dave sometimes spoke to us in
a Russian tongue that even Dad couldn't understand.
The only others of my Grandma's siblings that I knew were Lydia, Sarah,
Hannah, Rachel, and Sam; mostly a scary bunch that never made me feel
completely comfortable (except, of course, for my Grandma Weber--we
adored each other). Their German language was foreign to me,
and they all pretty much seemed like they hated life because of its
many woes. They seemed mean and ugly, although I never knew
them well enough to judge for sure. Rachel was my favorite
because she seemed to be the least intolerant of children.
Aunt Sarah was nice too, although she seemed demented and spooky, as
did Aunt Hannah. My Uncle Sam, the baby of his family, was
very scary. I don't remember his ever saying a
word. Instead he would just sit, and look mean.
One interesting thing about the Nusz children is that all 14 of them
not only survived, which was rare in those days, but every one of them
even lived into old age. My Aunt Hannah was 100 years old
when she died in the late 1990s.
Grandpa and Grandma Weber
My paternal grandparents, Adam Weber (among the 121st generation of
mankind) and Emma Nusz, were married at Watonga, Oklahoma on September
6, 1905. Grandpa Weber died when I was only two years old,
but I do have one memory of sitting on his knee while he cracked
walnuts for me at his roll-top desk. Adam Weber was born on
June 23rd, 1882, and died on April 12, 1958, at the age of
However, my Grandma Weber and I were extremely close (see attached
photo). I probably knew her better and spent more one-on-one
time with her than with either of my parents, or anyone else, until I
got married. Although she cast the same mean and spooky Nusz
image to almost everyone else, I was her favorite grandchild, and I ate
it up. I believe that the reason for this favoritism was
superstition. She was 32 years old when she had my dad, her
youngest child, and my mom was 32 years old when she had me, her
youngest child as well. Somehow this automatically granted me
She couldn't get enough of me, and I could do no wrong in her
eyes. While my sisters and cousins would probably describe
her as I have her siblings, she was my source of joy as a young
boy. She would keep peppermint candy in a special container
just for me. The only requirement for my indulging was a
visit from me, although this container was off-limits to any other
bothersome child. And visit I did; not just for the candy,
but for her companionship and the stories she would tell. I
would visit every day, and fix us an ice-cold Pepsi, also from her
private stock. She would give me all of her spare change
which I kept in a hidden piggy bank at her house.
Then we would talk. Best of all, she would tell me stories
from her childhood, usually from her years in either Bliss or
Okeene. She would tell me about all the amazing feats
performed by her six brothers, such as catching a catfish so big that
when they loaded it in the wagon, its tail dragged on the
ground. An avid fisherman myself, I thought about that
monster thousands of times. As for truth, a story did not
need to be verifiable; if my Grandma Weber told it, I believed it,
probably because it was so much fun to imagine it to be true.
She also loved to interpret dreams, and I always brought her mine for
In 1960, Dad single-handedly built her a house next door to ours, so we
had easy access to each other throughout my childhood.
Grandma was a large woman (obese, but short--probably about 4'11"
tall), and she walked with a cane. Grandma Weber died at the
age of 86, when I was in college, in September, 1975. That
was a difficult day.
Weber Aunts and Uncles
My Weber (and Nusz) aunts and uncles were not overly affectionate
people, and I was not really too close to any of them.
However, I did grow up around several of them, and my life is richer
for it. My Aunt Leah died of breast cancer in 1962, at the
age of 55, and her husband Leland Lamle died in 1970, probably of heart
My Uncle Reuben was an extremely smart, inventive, and interesting man,
but probably only a few people knew this because he was very
quiet. He was also a fairly educated man for his day,
graduating from high school in 1928. In a later era, he might
well have been a college professor, like his son, M.C.
Instead, he spent 44 years doing manual labor at USG (U.S. Gypsum) in
Southard, OK. For many of these years, he hand-loaded heavy
rocks onto railroad cars. He retired from USG in
1973. I was drawn to Uncle Reuben because of his interests in
hunting, fishing, auto mechanics, stamp-collecting, story-telling, and
other things that were just fun. He died in 1993 (with
stomach/digestion problems) at the age of 84. His wife, my
Aunt Edna, died in 1998, with Alzheimer's.
I never knew my Uncle Harry, but he was a colorful character.
His legacy included being the victim of an armed robbery when he was 19
years old. The gunmen searched all of the other victims for
guns, but when they came to Uncle Harry, they just shot him in the
stomach, apparently because they were afraid to tangle with him because
he was a large muscular man. Harry survived the shooting, but
the stomach and liver wounds, combined with excessive drinking, took
his life about eight years later in 1939 at the age of only
I met my Uncle Harvey when we visited him in California when I was
eight years old. He was an alcoholic, and by this time he was
already shriveled down to skin and bones, and he walked with a cane,
although he was less than 50 years old. I remember how
shocked I was when Dad wanted to leave Uncle Harvey with a parting
gift, so he bought him a carton of cigarettes. To a young boy
whose Dad was insulted by alcohol and cigarettes, this was quite
unusual. Alcoholism killed Uncle Harvey seven years later in
1971 at the age of 57.
Aunt Bernice was always special to me because of the gifts she bought
me when we visited her in Bakersfield, CA in 1964. She gave
me a large Tonka truck, and she took me to Disneyland and bought me a
Donald Duck hat, and I still have that hat. Aunt Bernice and
Uncle Andrew (Scott) also abused alcohol and cigarettes, and Aunt
Bernice died of lung cancer in the mid-eighties at the age of
72. Uncle Andrew was still quite vigorous for several years
after Bernice died, traveling the country with a travel trailer, and
even visiting in our home in Coppell.
My Aunt Helen is a very quiet and industrious lady. She was
born on February 9th, 1919, and still in good health at her
death at the age of 89. She never learned to drive, and she
still walked to her job as a cook at a restaurant when she was at least
75 years old. When I learned to know her husband, Uncle John
(Grauberger), he had already been retired from the railroad for many
years. He was loud and opinionated, and I enjoyed his company
because he would always include me in the conversation. Those
conversations were quite loud themselves because Uncle John was nearly
deaf. It was sometimes embarrassing when his colorful
language rang out so loudly.
Grandpa and Grandma Grantz
I have much less information about Mom's family than I do about
Dad's. My Maternal grandparents were Lewis Grantz and Lena
Moulton. Grandpa Grantz was born in 1882, and his family had
settled in Pennsylvania. I believe that their "old country"
was Wales. Grandma Grantz was born in 1986. They
also had seven children (like my Weber grandparents). As may
have been typical for their generation, Grandpa was mean, and Grandma
was wonderful. Mom said that, as a child, she was so scared
of her Dad that she would walk on the other side of the room in order
to avoid him. On Sunday mornings, he would walk to church on
one side of the road, while the rest of the family walked well behind
on the other side. He was periodically kicked by his mules,
supposedly because he was so mean to them, and he would be laid-up in
bed for weeks at a time. On the other hand, Mom loved her
mother deeply, and I believe that they had a very special
relationship. Grandpa Grantz was born on March 2nd, 1882, and
on June 5th, 1961 at the age of 79. Grandma Grantz was born
on September 13th, 1886, and died on March 26th, 1965 at the age of
I don't have any clear memories of Grandpa Grantz, since I was only
four years old when he died, but I remember Grandma Grantz quite
well. I have vague memories of her old house in Enid (I
believe it was on West Maple Street), including one or two rooms in a
small upstairs area that was a lot of fun for us
grandchildren. The house was very decrepit though, and when
my parents moved her to a small house next to us in Okeene (that my dad
moved in for her), their old house in Enid was destroyed.
I really enjoyed living next door to Grandma Grantz. I also
lived next door to Grandma Weber, and although we shared that special
report, Grandma Grantz attracted my attention in very different
ways. She and I loved to work jigsaw puzzles together, so it
always seemed strange to me that Grandma Weber had absolutely no skill
or dexterity for this hobby. Grandma Grantz also loved to
play scrabble with me, and she was always working crossword puzzles and
jigsaw puzzles. I think that Clarissa was Grandma Grantz's
favorite grandchild, but this in no way included any shunning of us
other grandchildren. Grandma Grantz was a good cook, she was
an avid student of the Bible, she was blind in one eye, and she ALWAYS
smelled like mentholatum. She would keep a tube of
mentholatum secured in her bosom at all times, along with a
handkerchief and anything else she might need on a moment's
notice. She was also a large woman (both tall and heavy), so
her movement around the house was minimal, and always assisted by a
Grantz Aunts and Uncles
Uncle Frank was their oldest child, and he was indeed a
character. I have very fond childhood memories of
him. He was a man of activity, always coaching a little
league team or trying to make a little money at a second job.
He had tried farming and many other jobs, but when I knew him he was a
fire-and-brimstone Baptist preacher. I spent a lot of time
with him and Aunt Lottie, such as when I would stay with them for a
week in the summertime to attend his church camp. Also, Frank
and Lottie often kept foster children. Because of some of the
things he did, Uncle Frank did not always seem like a model
preacher. I recently kidded his children that, to a young
boy, Frank represented an intriguing mixture of virtues and
vices. Dad told me that he once sold a dresser without
telling the buyer that the mirror was cracked. I remember
riding in a car with him when he nearly drove off the road trying to
hit a rabbit. Uncle Frank died in 1967 at the age of
I never knew my Aunt Dolly (Edna Mae), but she must have been much like
Grandma, because everyone still speaks highly of her. She
married Vernon Wilson, but I may have only met him briefly on
occasion. Aunt Dolly died of a heart condition in 1951 at the
age of 35.
Uncle Guy was another character, but this was not widely known because
he was very quiet. I have fond memories of Uncle Guy giggling
like a little boy, and he frequently played practical jokes on my Dad,
such as repeatedly running into him (physically) in stores with his
back to Dad, so Dad didn't know who it was. He would keep
doing it until Dad confronted him, and then just giggle when Dad
realized who it was. Guy was a farmer, and he died in 1975 at
the age of 58. He had sugar diabetes and probably a heart
condition as well. This was never too clear, because Guy's
religion did not allow for seeking medical attention from
doctors. Dad told horrifying stories about one of their
children screaming with the pain of an ear infection, and draining a
quart of fluid from his ear--all unnecessary because of their
religion. Another thing about their religion was their weird
way of praying. When Uncle Guy would pray, it was in the form
of a chant, almost a song, but I could never understand any of the
words he was saying. I never asked him about his religion or
his form of prayer. I now wish that I had. Aunt
Fern was a wonderful, nice, and considerate woman. She died
Uncle Nelson was as nice of a man as I've ever met. He would
have given all he had for any friend or relative, and as a result, he
always lived in poverty. However, as a youngster I was
oblivious to this. All I knew was that whenever he would come
and visit, I would sit on his knee, and he would let me reach into his
shirt pocket for a stick of Juicy Fruit gum. I was always
amazed how he always prepared for his visits by storing gum in his
pocket for me. He never forgot. He was a hard
worker, but with no education and ten children, it was a tremendous
struggle for him to make ends meet. In addition, he had a
major speech impediment, to the point that most people could not
understand him. After spending an hour or so with him, I
could understand about half of what he said. This no doubt
contributed to his economic problems, as well as his humility and low
self-esteem. His first wife was Jeanne, but I never knew
her. I do remember when he married Aunt Virginia
however. Their wedding turned into a fiasco when the men of
the family planned for him to chivalry his new bride down the streets
of Enid in a wheelbarrow, but Nelson refused and fled. Nelson
spent his career at Gold Spot in Enid. In an incident that I
can remember, he lost two fingers in an accident at Gold
Spot. He spent his last years in Oxford, Arkansas, and died
of cancer in 1992 at the age of 73. As far as I know, Aunt
Virginia still lives in Oxford. She is a very loving lady,
but I believe she has suffered from mental illness throughout the years
I have known her.
I never knew my Aunt Gladys, because she died from an enlarged heart in
1942 at the age of only 18. I don't know much about her,
except that her death was apparently particularly hard on
Uncle Ovid lives in Anadarko, OK. He was a Baptist minister,
and he married Karen and me. Aunt Jannette was another one of
my wonderfully considerate aunts, but she died just a few years ago
after being in poor health for many years.
My Dad, Clarence Owen Weber, was born on July 23rd, 1921 (among
approximately the 122nd generation of mankind), in a farmhouse
southeast of Okeene, OK. He was the youngest of seven
children, and he had a rough life.
During the Great Depression, his family, like many others, was
starving. They could no longer make a living by
sharecropping, so they set up a whiskey still in their barn and started
making moonshine whiskey. Even as an uneducated ten-year-old
boy, Dad knew this was wrong, and he was ashamed of it. How
did he even know it was wrong when every role model in his life was
doing it? He lied to a friend about the bootlegging, and
later said, "I know that I lied, and it leaves a bad memory."
The bootlegging operation was soon busted by the county sheriff, and my
Grandpa Weber served five months in jail. Imagine the shock
when Dad realized that his dad was in jail. Without a
breadwinner in the house that winter, they lived mostly on water
gravy. Dad visited his dad in his jail cell only one
time. "I was real glad to see him because it had been a long
time, and I knew he was glad to see me. It was nice and warm
in there, and I knew that he got three meals a day, so he may have been
better off than the rest of us, but it was hard to leave him when it
came time to go." On another occasion, Grandma Weber also
served a jail sentence for bootlegging, and again Dad's heart was
broken when his own mother went to jail.
A Dysfunctional Family
His family had to sell everything they owned, and they moved into an
old house in Okeene, without water or gas, and they began to sell
whiskey by the drink at their house. "It was not much of a
home anymore. There was no privacy whatsoever, with men
coming and going anytime of the day or night. They would
curse, tell dirty stories, and sometimes even get sick and vomit on the
floor." The screen door had to stay locked to deter the
deputies in case of a bust, so Dad had to have someone lock and unlock
the door just to go outside and play. "This was the place
that I had to call home."
"Why did my parents have to have seven children. Why couldn't
they have settled for six? It would have been better if I
hadn't been born. There just wasn't enough love to go
around. There wasn't anyone who would want a kid like me
around. Most of the people I knew and liked had broken the
law in some way. Oh, how badly I wanted something that I
could have been proud of. Christmas at our house was just
another day. Little or nothing did I know of its meaning or
why we even observed it. It came and went with no Christmas
tree, no gifts, nothing for me to remember it by."
Dad didn't do well in school, and he was too shy to ask
questions. He was also ridiculed by his classmates because of
his family's reputation. Finally, on the day that he could no
longer stand the persecution, he rushed away from school at lunchtime,
and became an eighth-grade drop-out. He later said, "Although
I quit school, I never did quit studying or trying to learn, but most
of my learning came from experience. I found out though that
no matter how I studied or how much I learned, it didn't help me any in
life if I didn't have that diploma or degree." (Dad later
earned his GED at the age of 65.)
Dad was often home alone. "One Saturday I found myself all
alone and with no food in the house. At noon I began to get
hungry. I looked for something to eat, and in the bread box
was a cinnamon roll which was a day old when it came from the bakery,
and it must have been in the bread box at least a week, so it was hard
and dry. I ate it, and I can truthfully say that it was
good--there just wasn't enough of it." That evening, he
roamed the streets of town, alone and with an empty stomach.
It seems that these experiences forever lowered Dad's expectations of
his fellow man.
However, Dad did find some solace in my Aunt Leah and Uncle
Leland. On one occasion, Dad got sick, and Leland came
upstairs to see about him. Dad said, "He sat on the edge of
my bed, and placed one hand on my shoulder as he talked to
me. He asked where I felt sick, and wondered if there was
anything that he could do for me. It was a wonderful feeling
having him sit there and talk the way he did. I guess I
hadn't realized that anyone really cared that much for me."
Why did Dad turn out to be a godly man? He said, "I had all
the encouragement and temptations to become a criminal or outlaw, but
for some reason, as I would watch my brother, the more I saw of the
kind of life that he lived, the less I liked it. He had a
certain kind of friends that I hoped I would never have."
"Down inside of me I was building up a feeling of my own."
(This must have been the power of the Holy Spirit.) "I tried
to accept it as a challenge in my life. Maybe it was pride,
although I didn't have anything to be proud of--always a lot of shame
and disgrace, and a life full of disappointments. I knew that
I didn't have to drink whiskey, and that I wouldn't have to waste my
life sitting around in some rotten jail. I could always hope
that tomorrow might be a better day. I'm real thankful that I
had other ways of looking at life, and that I always tried to live the
kind of life that some people said I couldn't live."
His brother sometimes cursed and argued with his mother, making her
cry. Dad said, "So, I made another promise to myself that I
would try to live a better life, a kind of life that my relatives
wouldn't have to be ashamed of, and that I would never have to argue
with my mother or do anything that would make her cry. It
just isn't in me to want to hurt anyone."
The Unites States Marine Corps
During his teenage years, Dad worked in a service station in Okeene,
and an egg plant in Enid, and completed a welding course in
Okeene. Then World War II started, and on August 8th, 1942,
Dad enlisted in the Marine Corps. During tearful goodbyes,
Aunt Leah told Dad she was really proud of him. "I will never
forget those words she spoke because I can't remember anyone ever
telling me before that they were proud of me."
Immediately after completing boot camp in San Diego, the 1500 men of
his battalion, the 12th Defense Battalion, began traveling throughout
the South Pacific. Dad was a corporal, and served as a
director on a 90-millimeter ant-aircraft artillery team. On
Woodlark Island, they defended an airstrip and suffered heavy bombing
from the Japanese. At Peleliu, along with the infantry of the
1st Marine Division, they endured some of the most heated fighting of
World War II. During the summer of 1945,
they set out for the U.S. Mainland, thinking that they were only
returning for a short furlough. However, during this leg of
their journey, the U.S. dropped two nuclear bombs on the mainland of
Japan, and the Empire of Japan formally surrendered to General
MacArthur on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. The marines
returned to San Diego on August 20th, 1945, after 31 months
overseas. Dad traveled by train to the state of Virginia,
where he received his Honorable Discharge from the United States Marine
Corps on November 27th, 1945, at age 24, after 39 months of faithful
service to his country as a veteran of war.
I have a letter that one of Dad's Marine buddies, Coogan Jones, wrote
to him. It's dated January 30th, 1953, and it starts with the
greeting, "Dear C. O.," because he often went by "C. O.," especially
while in the Marines. Perhaps this was a play-on-words,
since, to a Marine, "C. O." stands for "Commanding Officer," and Dad
and his buddies certainly weren't officers. Anyway, in the
letter, Mr. Jones says, "...I believe of all the men I've met during my
time on earth, I've met the best ones when I was in the
Dad's New Life (Romans 7:6)
At the time that Dad went off to war, he didn't yet know my
mother. However, due to a mutual friend, they began writing
to each other while Dad was overseas. Upon his return, after
a brief courtship, they were married on March 23rd, 1946. Dad
had several odd jobs, but he soon began his career as a welder,
although this too was a struggle for him. Working for
companies as a union member, he often went for extended periods with no
income, when the union members would go on strike. He
desperately wanted to make a living in his own welding business, but he
was seldom able to secure a steady income on his own either.
I believe this was due to both under-charging for his labor and taking
extra time to strive for perfection in is work. So, he would
go back and forth: working for a company for a while, then
trying his own business again. He named his shop "C. O.'s
Welding and Fabricating." This name served a dual
purpose. Although his initials were "C. O.," he always kept
an inkling of hope that his business would prosper, and that I would
join it and eventually take it over. So, it was his wish that
"C. O." could also one day stand for "Clarence & Owen's Welding
Mom brought a strong Christian influence to their marriage, and she led
Dad to the Lord shortly before I was born, so we were a church-going
family. Dad was about six feet tall, and 200 pounds of solid
muscle, due to a lifetime of hard physical labor. As a young
boy, sitting next to him at church, he would sometimes reach over and
place my hand in his. I marveled at his gigantic
hand. It was strong and as hard as a rock from blacksmith
work. As I played with his hand to pass the time, I couldn't
imagine anything ever hurting me, knowing that Dad would protect
me. He gave me security.
Speaking of his adult life, Dad said, "Sometimes I feel as though I've
been a total failure." Although we never had much money, Dad
was a good provider, and I never went hungry a day in my
life. Also, he taught me welding, hunting, and fishing; how
to drive a nail and use tools; most of what I know about auto
mechanics, carpentry, and plumbing; how to fix just about anything with
nothing but a pair of pliers and a piece of bailing wire; and, honesty
and integrity. Dad died on October 13th, 1992 (Karen's and my
19th wedding anniversary), of a massive heart attack, at the age of 71.
Bits of Wisdom from My Dad:
"Welding requires two pieces of iron and a welding rod. Place
the two pieces of iron close together, and with the rod we melt the
iron and the rod, and by doing this, we make one piece out of
three. I think we can apply this to our daily
living. We have to face the good and the bad each
day. One of these pieces of iron is the good, and the other
one is the bad. We ourselves are the welding rod, as we try
to make one good piece out of the good and the bad of life."
"My grandparents traveled all the way from Germany, to Russia, to
Oklahoma. I wonder if the most important thing about this is
how far they traveled, or if it could be something else. When
I was just learning how to weld, an older man with much experience was
watching me one day, and he told me that I was watching too much in
front of my weld. He said it was more important to watch
where I was welding, and the kind of weld that I was leaving
behind. He said I shouldn't worry too much about what there
was in front of me, but to be careful what kind of weld I left
behind. So, it's not really so important how far we've
traveled, but what kind of a trail we left behind."
Just a Human Being
1 Corinthians 15:10 "But by the grace of God, I am what I
"Before I made a public profession of faith for Christ, a preacher once
asked me a question." (Dad didn't say what the question
was. Perhaps it was something like, "Have you ever
sinned?") "I answered, 'Yes.' He said that this
just showed that I was a human being.
"I had a buddy in the Marine Corps who always sang "White Christmas"
during the holidays. He had the same rank as me, but he was
promoted about two weeks before I was, so that made him senior to
me. We were getting ready to make a landing on Peleliu, and
they needed all the men they could get to go in with the infantry, and
only keep enough to operate the equipment and come in later.
So, it should have been my place to go with the infantry. When
the roster came out, it wasn't that way. He was sent, and I
had to stay behind. In this landing, he was killed.
I've always felt like I should have been where he was. I'll
always feel like he died for me."
"Each year at Christmas, I think of my old buddy, and I can't seem to
get the Christmas spirit like most people do. As I read my
Bible, it tells me about a baby born in a manger. His name
was Jesus. You all know the story, and could tell it much
better than me. It tells how He grew to be a man, and about
the miracles He performed; and, how He died on the cross for you and
me. After His death, He rose again, and today He's still able
to do things for us. But each year at Christmas, I ask myself
why I feel the way I do. Why can't I rejoice and celebrate
the birthday of the One who was born in a manger--the One who died on
the cross for me?" I always seem to come up with the same
answer, just like that preacher had said: I am what I am,
just a human being."
Matthew 5:16 "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that
they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in
"I sometimes remind myself of the little boy and the house with the
golden windows across the valley. One Sunday I attended a
wedding at a church in Enid, and I noticed how happy those people were
with their church. I wished that I could belong to that kind
of a church and feel like that. I could travel half-way
around the world, looking for a place to worship. Someday,
someone would tell me of a place that had everything I was looking
for--First Baptist Church at Okeene, OK. That's my
church. There are good people there. I find myself
like the little boy. Why couldn't I see that gold in those
windows when I was there? Maybe because I had my candle
covered up so the wind wouldn't blow it out."
"If I would put as much into my Christian Life as those people in that
other church, I could have the same thing right here in my own
Psalms 23:4 "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of
death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your
staff, they comfort me."
"One of my brothers was shot at age 19. He recovered, but he
was an alcoholic, and because of his drinking, he died at age
28. Another brother moved to Washington, and become a
wino. He died at the age of 57. I always felt like
their lives were just wasted."
"I had no church training, I never learned in school, and I didn't know
how to pray. I enlisted in the Marines, and stayed in a hotel
one night. I wanted to be a good soldier, so before going to
sleep that night, I prayed that I would be. Every night from
then on, before going to sleep, I said a prayer, the best way I
"In the South Pacific, mail call was very important, and one day I
received a letter from my mother. It included a small page
with the 23rd Psalm written on it. I read through verse 4,
and I memorized it. My mother didn't know that I
prayed. I was never afraid to die. Scared--yes,
"The war ended, I came home, married, and had two children before I
publicly accepted Christ. I felt that I had joined God's
army, and I wanted to be a good soldier for Christ. However,
I wasn't a good soldier for Christ, as I had been for my
country. I failed in so many ways. For me, life has
been a struggle--a chore to live. I never found happiness
like a Christian should have. I haven't enjoyed Christian
fellowship. I haven't been a witness. As I look at
my life, I don't have a right to say that my brothers wasted their
lives, because I wasted a lot of my own life by not doing things God
intended. I've wasted my life in different ways."
"Something frightens me--should God call me home. For a
fraction of a second, I see the beautiful things of life that I failed
to see, to use, to appreciate, and to take advantage of before, or I
see how I could have happiness as a Christian, and enjoy
fellowship. I might be like the rich man with
Lazarus. I would say, 'Lord, I see it now. Give me
a little more time.' He would say, 'No, come on
home.' What if he would say, 'I know you not?' Then
I could say that my whole life had been wasted."
"But I like that 4th verse of Psalm 23, the way the psalmist said
My Uncle Frank and his family were very close to ours. I'm
sure we saw them more than anyone else. He used to buy us
three kids Christmas presents, when he couldn't really afford to do so,
but he wasn't able to buy for his other nieces and nephews. I
think this is due to the special relationship that he always had with
Mom. He was the oldest sibling, and he always looked after
I believe that Mom's depression started way back in the 1960s with the
following series of events: In the spring of 1965, her mother
died (my Grandma Grantz); around Christmastime in 1965, Tessora told
Mom and Dad that she was pregnant, and Shane was born in 1966; and in
1967, we were shocked when Uncle Frank died prematurely, at the age of
Since there were seven siblings in each of my parents' families, I had
twelve aunts and uncles (plus their spouses); as well as several
great-aunts and great-uncles that I can remember, especially since
there were 14 siblings in Grandma Weber's family. Can you
imagine having 13 brothers and sisters?
Grandpa Cox told me one time, "I feel like a total failure."
I think it's hard for us men not to compare ourselves to other men who
have been more successful than we have been. Although I don't
feel like a total failure, I still can identify with both of your
grandpas on this. In their case though, they grew up during a
time when mere survival had to take precedence over fostering the
self-esteem of family members.
There was nothing touristy about Grandpa's military service in the
South Pacific. In fact, it was just the opposite.
For nearly three years, he spent almost every night on a cot a tent, in
a foxhole under a mosquito net, or onboard a ship where everyone had
motion sickness most of the time. This helps us to realize
why mail call was so important. I'm sure that most of the
Marines suffered from loneliness and depression.
There was a time when I aspired to partner with Dad in his
shop. However, at the same time, my folks encouraged me to
get a college degree, after which I wasn't too interested in welding
work. Also, his business was always such a struggle for
him. I don't think it would have ever prospered in a small
town like Okeene.
The house with the steep staircase is where I grew up. At the
bottom of the stairs, on the left was my parents' bedroom, where we
would lay on the bed and visit with Grandma when she was
sick. On the right was what we called "the sewing
room." Upstairs on the left, the bedroom with all of the
stuffed animals was Clarissa's old room. The room on the
right was mine, where I spent most of my time growing up.
Incidentally, that whole two-story part of our house was an old house
in Southard that dad bought, moved to Okeene, and attached to the end
of our house.
My mother, Grace Olive Grantz, was born on January 11th,
1923. She had as tender a spirit as anyone I've ever
known. She was affectionate and thoughtful, and she babied
me, even after I grew to adulthood. I loved it, and, of
course, I loved her dearly.
Mom grew up on a farm in the Enid / Garber area. Her life was
hard, but she never went hungry. Family squabbles seemed to
dominate her life at home, and I believe this severely limited her
happiness. However, she was a strong Christian woman, and she
When Mom was born, her family lived on her uncle's 160-acre farm as
sharecroppers. In 1929, her Dad bought out the heirs on the
80-acre farm where her mother had been raised, some 15 miles
away. They moved to the 80-acre farm where Mom grew up during
the Great Depression, but their family continued to farm both
places. This was quite a challenge since they used horses for
farming. They would prepare enough food to last a week for
her father and two brothers, then they would load the food into the
lumber wagon, hook up the necessary farm equipment, and the three men
and boys would start out to accomplish as much as they could.
Mom and the rest of the family would sit out on the porch on Saturday
nights and listen for them to cross the wooden bridge a half-mile from
their house, which signaled their return.
On one occasion Mom went with them for a week to help with the cooking
and cleaning. She said, "I shall never forget the praise I
received from my father when we got home and he told the family how
well I had managed everything, and how efficient I was. In
fact, that was about the only time I ever remember him commending me
for good work. However, he was always proud of the good
grades I made in school, but being the stern man he was, he seldom
expressed his feelings, especially when they were good ones."
Mom said they were "reasonably happy and always had a meal when it came
meal time." Those meals usually consisted of either milk
toast, cornbread and milk, or mush and milk, usually without any
meat. She rarely had an egg for breakfast because the few
that were gathered had to be saved to help buy sugar, salt, baking
powder, soda, and anything else they couldn't grow on the
farm. Mom's family grew fruits and vegetables in the summer,
and canned them to eat in the winter. Some summers they would
can 100 quarts of corn and 100 quarts of peaches, and another 400 or
500 quarts of various fruits, vegetables, jams, and jellies.
They worked from morning to night, with never a moment to call their
own. Their house had no electricity until after Mom was
married. Aunt Dolly went to live with an aunt when Mom was
eight, so most of the dish washing and other housework fell to
The family went to Sunday school and worship service at church every
Sunday morning and Sunday night, and sometimes to Wednesday night
prayer meeting, usually walking the half-mile to the church.
Though they were poor, many times they would save all week on groceries
so they could invite the pastor and his family for Sunday
dinner. Grandpa Grantz liked having company, and, if
necessary, he would even help prepare the kids if a dress needed
buttoned or a shoe tied.
The kids walked a mile to their school, which went through the eighth
grade. While other kids had fresh fruit and store-bought
cookies for lunch, Mom and her brothers and sisters had bread with
cream, sugar, or apple butter on it. Most of their clothes
were second-hand from friends and relatives, and adjusted to fit by
Grandma Grantz. Mom believed that growing up poor with no
opportunities or advantages gave her an inferiority complex.
However, she did enjoy her school programs and was often chosen for the
main part because she could memorize the lines quickly.
When Mom was 13, she started working for other families, baby-sitting
and doing the washing, ironing and house cleaning. At first,
she earned $2 per week, but in her late teens she earned up to $12 per
week. She always sent her mother part of her earnings to help
with the family. "My dear brothers, bless their hearts, would
always see to it that I got to go home on the weekends that I could get
away, and this I appreciated more than they will ever know."
In 1942, Dad had gone to Enid to work at an egg plant, and he happened
to rent a room in a rooming house of one of Mom's aunts. (I
believe this was her Aunt Grace.) Mom's aunt wanted her to
meet Dad, but Dad was dating the aunt's granddaughter. Dad
soon enlisted in the Marine Corps and was stationed in San
Diego. Then Mom moved to Enid, got a job at a dress shop, and
rented a room from her aunt.
One day Dad sent a letter to the aunt's granddaughter, but the aunt
intercepted the letter. She tore the address off and gave it
to Mom, and asked Mom to write to Dad.
Mom said, "This seemed odd indeed, but she thought he was too good a
guy to get further involved with her granddaughter."
At first Mom was hesitant to write, but in the month of October she
did, expecting Dad to be home on furlough for Christmas. Dad
quickly returned her letters, but his furlough was canceled and he was
shipped to the South Pacific for the next 30 months, although they
continued to write faithfully. In July, 1945, Dad wrote
saying he would be home for a 30-day leave in August. It
turned out that the war ended on their way home, so he didn't have to
return. They finally met for the first time in August, then
Dad had to report to Camp Le Juene, North Carolina to await his
discharge. He was discharged in late November, came home in
early December, and gave Mom a diamond for her birthday on January 11,
1946. Since Grandpa Grantz didn't believe in eating anything
in the church building at any time, they couldn't hold the reception at
the church, so they were married at Grandma and Grandpa's house near
Garber on March 20, 1946.
In June of that year, Mom was diagnosed with a heart murmur.
Since her sister, Gladys, had died with heart trouble at the age of 17,
this was naturally quite worrisome, and Mom never returned to work at
the dress shop. She later shared with me that if she had been
aware of the heart problem before her wedding, she probably would never
had gotten married. However, at this point she began to do a
lot of sewing, and she became a fine seamstress. I still have
some of her handy work.
My sister, Tessora, was born on October 31st, 1947, and my sister,
Clarissa, was born on September 20th, 1950. During this time,
my family moved between Enid and Okeene a few times. When I
was born, on October 7th, 1955, our home was on Main Street in Okeene,
but I was born at St. Mary's Hospital in Enid. I was stowed
away in the incubator for the first few days, and, in those days, this
was a sign that something was terribly wrong. I apparently
had some sort of respiratory problem, and my parents thought I was
going to die. However, it passed fairly quickly, and Mom and
I were home within a week or two. I believe I am among
approximately the 123rd generation of mankind, being born 6196 years
after God created Adam. (BTW, if this is accurate, then you
are the 124th generation--62 up to the time of Christ, and 62 since His
The most important series of events in the life of this new family
involved our spiritual well-being. Having been raised in a
Baptist church, Mom was a Christian when she got married, but Dad
wasn't. Mom set about to evangelize her entire family, and
Dad became a Christian in 1951, Tessora in 1952, and Clarissa a few
I vividly remember lying in bed one summer evening of my 7th year,
contemplating and worrying about my eternal security. By
then, I had heard the Gospel message thousands of times, and enough of
it had finally soaked in, so that I knew I had to deal with
it. The Gospel told me that anyone who sins is separated from
God, and I knew that I had sinned. Specifically, I thought
back to a particular incident that had occurred when I was
younger--maybe three or four years old.
Mom and I were at home together as usual, and somebody drove into our
driveway. I don't know who it was, but we went outside to
greet this person, and I misbehaved in some way that I don't
recall. I knew that Mom was upset with me, but she needed to
be cordial to our visitor, so I thought it best to make my
getaway. I was afraid of the punishment that I was surely
going to receive, so I went into the house and hid from my mother,
under the dining room table.
When the visitor left, Mom came stomping into the house looking for me
and calling my name. I remember her standing right by the
table under which I was hiding. I was holding my breath and
remaining as still as I could, while she was calling my name, and
threatening that my impending punishment was worsening with every
second that I remained hidden. She turned away and went back
outside looking for me, and I felt a degree of success, with the normal
lack of foresight that a four-year-old would have, not realizing that
although I had won a battle, I was sure to lose the war. I
don't remember the specifics of how this story played out.
I also thought of another occasion when I had repeated a bad word that
I had heard from a friend, and Mom was shocked. She calmly
discussed my punishment options with me, and I argued that there was
probably no need to share this with Dad when he came home from
work. Again, I don't remember the rest of this
Anyway, on that hot summer night in 1962, these two incidents came to
mind as evidence of sin in my life. The fire-and-brimstone
Gospel that I had learned had taught me that if I never dealt with this
sin in my life, I would spend eternity in hell. Feeling the
nudging of the Holy Spirit, it occurred to me on this night that it
wasn't an impossibility that I could die in my sleep on that very
night, and never wake up the next morning. This caused me to
be unable to go to sleep.
I got out of bed (which was normally forbidden), went to my parents'
bed, and confronted Mom with this issue. She got out of bed
and took me to the living room, where we knelt down by the piano
bench. With both of us in tears, she talked to me to make
sure that I indeed had a clear understanding of the Gospel, she prayed
with me, and I acknowledged my belief in Jesus Christ as my personal
savior. I went back to bed happy and relaxed, fell right to
sleep, and was baptized the next Sunday by our pastor, John
My earliest memories, however, center around my electric
train. In my early childhood, I played alone most of the
time, and one of my special privileges was to occasionally get down the
electric Lionel train I had received as a Christmas present when I was
two years old. (I still have this train, which is now 60
years old this Christmas, and it still works.) I cherished
it, and I would play with it for hours. I'm convinced that
some of these memories indeed date back to when I was only two years
old. However, I have a more verifiable memory of when I was
three. My mother was ironing, and I asked her when I would be
four (so I must have been three).
I have another memory (mentioned above) of when I was (at most) two years old.
I remember going to my Grandpa and Grandma Weber's house with my dad when I was just a baby.
We sat at Grandpa's roll-top desk, and I sat on Grandpa's lap. I remember
being able to see Dad sitting next to us. Since I was looking outward, I
couldn't see my Grandpa, and to this day I don't remember what he looked
like (only through pictures, since then). As Dad and Grandpa visited (probably
in German), Grandpa cracked walnuts for me, from his walnut tree.
Grandpa Weber died when I was only two years old, so I know that I was two years
old or younger at the time.
Another early memory is helping Mom do the dishes. She would
wash them in one sink, then hand them to me, as I stood on a chair next
to the sink. I would rinse them in the clean water in the
second sink, and place them in the dish drainer. When this
was completed, I would dry the dishes with a dish towel and store them
in the cabinet.
I learned many things from Mom while visiting with her during these
dish-washing sessions, many of which I still carry with me. I
was always a perfectionist, and details were, and are, very important
to me. I remember being confused by the ambiguity of terms
like "few" and "several". When we would wash dishes, I would
become anxious for this chore to be completed, so I would often like to
know how many items were left. As the remaining items set in
Mom's side of the sink, I could easily count the large items like
plates and cups, but the individual pieces of silverware usually lay on
the bottom of the sink, obscured by the soapy water. One day
I asked Mom how many pieces of silverware were left, and she said,
"Just a few." I then proceeded to count the remaining pieces
as we processed them, and there were four. On another
occasion she said, "Oh, several," and when I counted, there were
seven. To this day, I tend to automatically equate "few" with
four, and "several" with seven.
Mom was a hard worker, often working harder than most men, so I became
a hard worker too, even if not by choice. In the summertime
she and I would plant grass, tend the garden, and weed the flower
beds. The grass planting was a real pain--digging up grass
from one side of our property, digging holes on the other side,
watering the holes, planting the grass, covering with dirt, and
watering again. Once I was hauling a load of grass in my
noisy wagon, but I was ready to quit. Under my breath (and
supposedly also under the noise of the wagon), I said, "If she makes me
haul one more load of grass, . . ." To my surprise, Mom said,
"So, what are you going to do if I make you haul one more load of
grass?" This is when I learned that parents had super hearing
I also have fond memories of playing in my sandbox. This was
a tractor tire laid flat on the ground and about half-filled with
sand. I suppose that the joy of playing in the sand overrode
my fear of the bugs and spiders that were usually lurking along the
darkened edges of the inside of the tire. I also remember
frequent visits from our cousin Madeline, during which my
second-cousin, Carolyn, and I would play in the sandbox.
We were fortunate to live on a three-acre lot on the edge of
town. I loved this because it meant I could take a gun and go
hunting whenever I wanted. With wildlife scarce this close to
town, these adventures usually resulted in more shooting at cans and
less hunting, but I would occasionally bring home a rabbit or a
squirrel which I would then dress and clean for supper.
We were poor, but I never knew it--probably not until I was out of
college. I was never once hungry in my life, nor worried
whether there would be enough to eat at my next scheduled
meal. I don't think I noticed what others had in comparison
to myself--oh, if I had only been able to hold onto that
virtue. Had I been asked, I would have probably said that all
my friends and I were equal on the economic scale, although this wasn't
the case. To my sisters however, as I found out later, being
poor was more humiliating. While others sported the latest
fashions, we wore Mom's homemade mock-ups of those same
fashions. For the girls, this was terrible, but I was always
quite comfortable in my custom-fitted wardrobe. If I wore a
hole in my jeans, instead of having to live with a cold draft of air,
Mom would just sew on another patch. My only problem was
having to occasionally slow down long enough to relinquish my jeans to
her for a repair job, leaving me to run around the house in my
underwear, hoping for no company.
After I started school, Mom went back to work to try to help make ends
meet. She was a playground teacher at the elementary school
for a while, but she soon took full-time employment at Shed's
Department Store. She worked five days per week, including
Saturday. The store was closed on Sundays, and her day off
Tuesday wasn't a day for resting though. Since it was the
only weekday Mom had off, it was wash day. This is another
chore with which I helped. I would gather the dirty clothes
from the hamper and separate them into various clothes
baskets. We would carry the baskets out to the detached
garage where Mom would wash them with an antique washer and ringer,
rinse them by hand in wash tubs, and hang them on the
clothesline. After the sun dried them for a few hours, we
would bring them in, do the ironing (I did the handkerchiefs), folding,
There was a constant attitude around my house that deeply affected all
of us kids. This was that my parents had decided early on
that we children were going to have things easier than they did; that
we would have advantages and opportunities that they never
I was a good student, and popular. If I could change one
thing, I'd not play the peer pressure game like I did. I'd
stand up to the bullies with my Christian principles. I would
have been nicer to the kids that weren't popular, in spite of what the
popular ones thought. Also, I wouldn't have drank to excess
like I did when I was a teenager, bringing grief to my
In 1978, Karen and I were living in League City, TX, but we came back
to Okeene for a week that summer, in order for me to help Dad shingle
their house. This task included tearing away the front porch,
and moving the front door to the side of the house. We
completed the roofing job, but the week ended before we had time to
completely remove the debris from the old porch. During the
upcoming days and weeks, Mom helped Dad with this task, which included
picking up heavy chunks of concrete, and loading them onto a trailer
for disposal. On one occasion, while carrying one of these
heavy rocks, Mom accidentally fell, hitting on her backside, with the
additional weight of the heavy rock adding to the impact. Not
only was Mom quite shaken up at the time, but I'll always believe that
this fall did some sort of unknown internal damage which triggered the
upcoming rapid decline of her health.
Almost immediately, she began going to the doctor, with various
complaints, including aches and pains in her chest and arms, shortness
of breath, and fatigue. She soon had to stop working, and the
local doctors were unable to be of much help (I believe due to
ignorance). Finally, when I suggested that to her doctors
that she might have a heart condition, they agreed to send her to a
specialist in Oklahoma City, where she was diagnosed with inoperable
congestive heart disease. I even hand-carried her test
results to renowned heart surgeons in Houston, and they confirmed that
the risk of operating was too high, and she probably would not survive
We moved from Houston to Dallas in 1981, primarily so we could visit
Mom more frequently. We did so probably about every two
months. She was in and out of the hospital multiple
times. Adding to her health issues were undiagnosed
depression and anxiety. She took many medications, but
nothing really helped, except that the nitroglycerine pills would
sometimes temporarily relieve the angina in her chest.
When we would visit, she had to spend most of the time in bed, on
oxygen, so I would just lay beside her, hold her hand, and visit for
hours, while both of us just stared at the ceiling. The last
time I saw her alive was in January of 1983. I remember when
we left that day, she kissed me on the lips, which was her custom, and,
looking back, I believe that she knew that it was the last time we
would see each other, although I had no inkling of this.
On March 3rd, 1983, Clarissa called me at work and told me that she
thought that Mom was dying. We left as quickly as we could,
but we had a flat tire on the way, which delayed our arrival by about
an hour. We went to Gene and Maurine's house to drop off the
kids, and as soon as I walked into their house, Maurine simply told me
that I should go to the hospital right away. Immediately I
knew that Mom had died, and that Maurine just couldn't bring herself to
say those words. Without another word to anyone, I simply
drove to the hospital.
When I arrived at the hospital, a long-time family friend, Harold
Smith, met me in the lobby. He put his arm around me and held
me firmly by my shoulders with both of his hands, and started walking
me down the hallway of the hospital. As we passed the nurses
station, the nurses were still and quiet with heads held low, as though
showing respect at a funeral procession. Harold softly said,
"Your mama passed away about thirty minutes ago."
When I entered her room, all of my immediate family members were
there. Dad was standing on the right side of the bed, Tessora
and Clarissa were standing at the foot of the bed, and Mom's body was
lying peacefully on the bed. I walked to the bed, and took
Mom's cold hand. I visually examined her body for a few
minutes, looking for signs of a pulse, breathing, or heartbeats, and
finally convinced myself that she was indeed dead. I was mad
about the flat tire we had had, which prevented me from seeing her
alive one last time, but I quickly decided that the flat had been by
divine appointment, for reasons that only God understood.
I was 27 years old when Mom died--the current average age of you four
kids. Mom was buried on Kristen's second birthday, March 6th,
1983. I was in a state of undiagnosed depression for about a
year-and-a-half, until I finally just had to let her go.
I'm including three of Mom's letters below. They're sort of
tear-jerkers, so you don't have to read them if you don't want to, but
I think they might help you to better understand Mom's influence on
some of the decisions that you've seen me make over the
In Mom's words:
Dear Beloved Family,
I feel that I have needed to do this for quite
some time, but have just put it off. There is no way to write
on paper with a pen, or to tell you all how much I love you.
There just isn't any way to describe my love for you. I only
know you are my life: my everything. There is no
way to express my love and appreciation to my wonderful husband who has
stood beside me through thick and thin all these years. I
only know that when I married him, he became my everything:
Mother, Daddy, and Husband. I have always said that if it had
not been for those years that we had together before my mother died, I
could not have given her up.
When Dr. Cathy told me January 3rd, 1980 that
there was nothing they could do to help me and that I would never be
able to work again, it came as a terrible shock, and as the time went
by, my condition seemed more serious and the doctors' words were far
more discouraging. I became very upset because I was not
ready to die and leave my good husband and lovely family. I
cried for months and every day I would ask God to give me a little more
I remember when I was in the hospital here in
Okeene the following March, Robin came by to see me and he told me that
he believed that God would get his children prepared to leave this
world before he took them away. Perhaps this is where I have
made my mistake. Instead of asking God to get me prepared to
leave my loved ones, I have prayed that He would leave me here with
you, because I thought if I were gone, you wouldn't have a mother to
pray for you, and after thirty years of praying for one's children, it
seems pretty important. Yes, I know your daddy would pray for
you, and his prayer life and Christian life exceeds mine by far, but it
just seemed to me that you needed a mother and grandmother and that
your father needed a wife.
Well I believe the Lord is preparing me to leave
this world because the past few months I have felt very unnecessary,
because I can't do the things that I once did for you. In
fact I can't do anything, and life gets pretty tiring at times (and I
am becoming so hard to get along with).
I do want you to know however that I have prayed
for each and every one of you that the Lord would be with you, bless
and guide you, even as He prayed for His people before he left this
world; and when Lena was here a while back, she told me that these
prayers would go on even after I am gone.
I know that no couple could have been blessed with
a better life together and with any three children better than the ones
that daddy and I have. We are also proud of our
daughter-in-law and love her very much. We are so
thankful for a husband that sees after our daughter like he does and
are grateful for him. As for our grandchildren, well, Owen
and Clarissa, if there has been times when you think perhaps we have
been partial to Shane and Shannon, it is because we were so close to
them for so long that they seemed more like our children I guess; and
then things haven't been easy for them; where your children are very
secure with a mother and daddy to care for them. I am sure
they will all five turn out to be someone we can be proud of.
My last request is that you will always love and
try to help each other, because everyone needs help at some time or
other in this old world. Keep in touch with your daddy, and
always try to see after him because I love him so much, just like I do
each of you.
Love you all
Mother & Mama, Mom, Grandma next door, Grandma who lives with
Grandpa, and Grandma Weber "
The letter that Mom left for me, posthumously:
I hardly know how to start your letter.
A son to a mother is a little different in some ways. I have
depended on you so much for so many things. I guess it was
because you were still with us after the girls were gone, but there are
so many things I am reminded of when I start thinking of writing them
We had wanted a little boy for so long.
Your daddy wanted one so bad that I felt like I hadn't done my part
unless I could have a son for him. I just couldn't believe it
when they told me, 'It's a boy.' And then there were those
few anxious days ahead when we didn't know what was going on about your
respiratory problem and I laid in bed and prayed nearly day and night
that you would be alright because we wanted to keep you. I
even told the Lord He could have you for His work when you were grown.
So, if sometime you feel like the Lord is calling you for some special
work, don't be surprised.
Then as you grew we enjoyed you so much. I guess
it took three to realize that you weren't going to break when we
touched you and you were always so good. Everybody loved you
just like they loved the girls. You were all well-behaved and
we didn't have to worry about taking you places. The only
time I remember spanking you was when I brought you home from S.S. and
spanked you and you asked me if we had to back to church, and I said
yes, and we did, but you know, I don't believe you deserved that
spanking at all. I was such an impatient mother. I
hope you will all forgive me for it.
I remember when you sat in church with Grandma Grantz and
Grandma Hall and they called you their songbird, and then all those
years you set in church with daddy and me were indeed a blessing to
us. I remember the first Sunday night the Choates were here
and you wanted to set with Larry and Jimmy, so I said OK, and when we
got home you said, boy I'm not going to set with them
anymore. They're too mean. I couldn't believe that
either. You were always coming up with some surprise--Once or
twice later, some not so pleasant ones. haha
I remember one time when you were in high school
and you were afraid you were going to flunk a math test.
Daddy had already gone to work and you and I were having breakfast
together, and I asked you if you wanted us to pray about it, so I
mentioned it in our prayer. That evening you came home and
said Mom you know what I made on that math test--an A.
Then one evening I remember on Karen's birthday
you left from school to go to the city and bring her that big dog and
you had to be back for play practice. I was worried sick, but
you made it.
And then another big surprise I remember was when
you worked for Arlo that first summer and you were late getting home
one evening and you brought us a paid up notice on a note that we owed
Watonga Savings and Loan. There just wasn't any better boy
anywhere, except for those few days you tore our hearts out when we
didn't know where you were, and we couldn't help you with your
problem. I'm so proud of the choice you made. When
you think of Karen and little Russell now, compared to Paul J. and some
of those other kooks you didn't know if you should give up, I'm sure
you thank God that he helped you to see the light.
I want to ask you not to grieve for me, but I do
want you to miss me a little, but most of all I want you to help your
daddy. If he loves me like I have always loved him, he is
going to need help, and if he finds some good woman he would like to
marry, don't discourage him, because he shouldn't have to live
One last request please, don't put off too long
starting little Russell in S.S. and church so
he will learn the plan of salvation. I
want to think of all of us meeting again
sometime, and it will be your responsibility to see that he meets his
Lord and Savior. This will be my last time to mention it to
you, so the rest is up to you.
I also hope you will help Tessora with
Shane. He needs a loving uncle to help fill up the vacancy of
two not-so-good daddy's. I know daddy will help him, but
supposing something would happen to him also. She would have
no one left but you to turn to for help. I hope you
understand what I am saying.
I love you son, and appreciate everything you have
done for me down through the years, and especially during my
illness. You helped me more than I can tell you.
Now as the song says, "God be with you until we meet again."
Lots of Love
The last letter we received from Mom was actually to Karen:
Just a line or two to tell you I got the nice card
and I do appreciate so much you being so thoughtful. I would
never know there was a "Mother-in-law's" day if it weren't for you and
your thoughtfulness. So, keep 'em coming. I love
...Thanks again Karen for just being
you. We do love and appreciate you more than we can tell you
Love you all
Dad & Mom Weber"
- Mom died on March 3rd, 1983
- Grandpa Weber (my dad) died on October 13th, 1992, our 19th wedding anniversary.
- Tessora died on March 23rd, 1995
- Uncle Bob died in March, 1996
- Gene died in on October 31st (Tessora's birthday), 2014
- Uncle Jerry died in January, 2015
My sisters did more than their share of household chores.
However, you have to remember that they were quite a bit older than
me--Tessora by eight years; and, Clarissa by five. So, by the
time I was nine years old, Tessora had left home; and, by the time I
was twelve, Clarissa had left home too. I think the reason I
helped do dishes a lot was because, until I started school, it was just
Grandma Weber and me at home together during the day. I
wouldn't say that I spent more time with Grandma Weber than my sisters
did. However, since they were only three years apart, I
probably did spend more one-on-one time with Grandma Weber than they
did. For the first six years of my life, my sisters were in
school; and, for the last six years that I was still at home, they were
both gone. I think that all three of us kids were equally
close to Grandma Weber, although I had the unique mother-son relationship with her.
Harold and Evelyn Smith were just close friends of my parents, from
church. They were just a few years younger than my
folks. Evelyn was my mother's best friend, and I was close to their son, Steve Martin.
November 26th, 2017
I'm 62 years old, and God had been kind to me. However (quoting Gene, and probably Dad too), "I feel like a total failure."
All of my peers (except for those in the ministry) have either been retired for years or they could retire any time they wanted to.
My life is a big wad of poor decisions and failures. From my early days with IBM, my grand plan was to retire after 30
years of service at age 51, with Social Security Leveling. That plan was thwarted when I was forced to leave IBM after 24-and-a-half years
(80% of the way there--then nothing). I had to start over for less than half my previous salary. My secondary goal was age 59-and-a-half,
so as not having to pay a penalty on 401-K savings. At that age, I didn't have enough income for retirement, so my tertiary goal was 62 when
I would be eligible for Social Security. When I turned 62 last month, I still didn't have enough income for retirement. It seems that the
longer I work, the further I am from retirement (maybe age 70?).
If I had simply put 10% of my salary into purchasing IBM stock at a 15% discount, I could have retired when I left IBM anyway, at age 45
anyway, as a multimillionare (not even counting my 401-K). What a klutz. Instead I bought stock and sold it every time we needed to make
a major purchase. I invested in my 401-K, trying to speculate on the ups and downs of IBM stock, and viewing myself as a market guru--and
lost again. I bought bearish ETFs during the biggest bull market in history, and lost another $100K.
My health is about to get me down. None of my health is considered major, but when I put them all together, I don't know how much longer I
can go on: Raynaud's Syndrome, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, skin issues, toe issues, and pain in my arms and shoulders.
Both my mother-in-law and my daughter-in-law (age 40) have stage 3 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. My mother-in-law also has dementia and chemo brain,
and my daughter-in-law's diagnosis, treatment plan, and prognosis is still to be determined.
I've worked three different jobs (for five companies) during the past 17 years. I'm 20 to 40 years older than EVERYONE at work, and they're
starting to run circles around me such that I don't know what I'm doing. I always said I'd quit when this happened, but I can't afford to.
However, I am a believer in Jesus Christ, and I have a good family, including six grandchildren who we get to see a lot.