Today I attended the funeral service for Harry. He was one of the old boys. He was a link to times gone by, and he lived in Leelanau County...."The Leelanau" was not his home.
Harry was not an book educated guy. He left school at a very young age, and went to work. It was rumored that he couldn't read or write. He joined the US Navy during WWII, and put himself in harms way to save his ship. He never said much about it, but it took 41 years before he was awarded a medal for his heroism.
He came back to his small hometown after the war, and as so many veterans did, he settled in. He married and had a family. No, he might not have been able to read or write much, but he could anylyze what it would cost to do something, and he could then figure out the price to charge for the many services he performed. Among other things, he was a builder, a heavy equipment operator, a mover of buildings and a honey wagon operator. He once owned a hardware store and a lumber yard. As a retirement project, he built and ran a bowling alley.
Today, the wind was howling and the snow was blowing, and Harry's service was held at the local fire station. He wasn't a church going man, although he did a lot of churchly deeds for people. He didn't want his service held at a church.
He also didn't want any "preachin', singin' or hymns". They did play the Navy Hymn, though. Several of his grandkids gave eulogies. It was a brief service, and it was jammed with people, and many of those people came from the far reaches of the county. Over the years, Harry had served on many boards and committees, and knew a lot of people.
I didn't see many of the more recent arrivals to our county at Harry's service. His family aside, it was a mostly older crowd there. Harry's cremated remains will be laid to rest this coming spring, in our local cemetary.
Leelanau County honored a good man today, a man whose mostly unsung deeds in life helped pave the way for "The Leelanau" to flourish.