An Everyday Hero

By , Westfield, IN
An Everyday Hero

Growing up in Sugar Grove, Ohio, Bryce R. was the oldest of nine children. He left home his junior year of high school to live on his own. After graduating, he joined the air force for three years. Later, he married a woman named Ann. Together they had five children; however, the third born, a little girl, died at a young age. After he divorced Ann, he met the love of his life: Karen. He was 60 when she died of leukemia. In 1995, he married his third wife, Rosemary. In 2004, she passed way from breast cancer. My grandfather is many things to many people: a father, a friend, a brother, a grandfather, but the best title he has is a hero.

Bryce’s childhood was “in a word: poor.” He was the oldest of nine kids, with three little sisters and five little brothers. His father worked with power lines until Bryce was six. He was in a terrible accident and was electrocuted. The entire right side of his body was badly injured. One day when Bryce went to visit him in the hospital, he saw the bone of his father’s thigh. His family moved to the country and his father tried to find new jobs, at one point he drove a bread truck. His parents did not have enough money for Christmas presents; a real treat was going to church and receiving a paper bag filled with candy. After going to two high schools for his freshman and sophomore year, it was arranged for Bryce to stay with an elderly woman his junior year so he did not have to move schools again. He did her chores and ran her errands in exchange for a bed to sleep in and meals to eat. His senior year he stayed by himself working two jobs and going to school. He also put himself through college. Bryce was an independent man who did not rely on others to do things for him, his parents included.
He had one pair of shoes all through high school; therefore, one of the soles came loose. His parents could not afford to get them fixed, so Bryce fixed them himself. He used an ice pick and string to hold the sole to the shoe. He tutored Jenny, one of his stepdaughters, in math all throughout her high school years. “He is one of the smartest men I know,” she says. He still enjoys doing puzzles and playing Sudoku, mind-challenging games. He also loves to read, keeping thousands of books all over his house. Bryce is a very clever man. He loves to challenge his mind, whether it is in games or everyday life.

World War II had just ended, and Bryce and one of his close friends decided to join the air force. They were stationed in Texas during the month of July, “and boy was it hot!” The average July temperature in Texas is 93*F, the second hottest month of the year. On one Saturday night during the three-month basic training program, everyone had the privilege to go into town, but one individual had one too many drinks and vomited on the bathroom floor in the barrack. The sergeant, of course, stumbled upon this. Wanting the wrongdoer to come forward, he made the entire barrack, 60 men, double-time. A double-time is a fast paced march while carrying a heavy backpack filled with all the supplies one might need on the field. Each hour, the men got a ten-minute break while the sergeant would go around asking who had vomited. Although there were 60 men, only a couple of people knew who had made the mess. The man, who had done it, was too afraid to confess.

Bryce showed how much he could physically endure on this hot July day in 1946. Although Odysseus, an epic hero from The Odyssey, could hang from the stomach of a ram, Bryce could run with a heavy backpack from dusk until dawn. Seven hundred minutes spent running, one hundred fifty minutes spent resting.

Bryce was not only physically strong, but emotionally strong as well. As a young man, he had a head of thick, dark hair. Anyone would have guessed it would just have turned gray slowly as age came on; however, it started to gray when his second wife was diagnosed with leukemia. Around the age of 50, when his gray hair started to show, he dyed it. For years he dyed it, not wanting the world to know how stressed he was. The love of his life was dying and there was nothing he could do about it. Then he got married a third time, to a woman he cared deeply for. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998, three years after their marriage. Once again, he thought he would lose his wife to cancer. His hair then began to thin. Although she survived the cancer, she was diagnosed a second time. She died in March of 2004. Bryce has lost two wives to cancer. His hair is now very thin and as white as snow.

Bryce Richard went through many hardships in his lifetime. He proved to everyone that he was an independent, clever, and strong man. These are just some of the reasons his loved ones consider him an everyday hero.





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

JOYful said...
Dec. 28, 2009 at 9:06 pm
This is a very well written, beautiful article about my father and all true. I am very proud of Karen for taking the time to notice the details of her Grandfather's life and submitting this article.
 
Mark replied...
Dec. 29, 2009 at 7:09 am
Karen, you touch on the things about Dad that we all love in him. He took this family from poverty to comfort in a generation by hard work and rock-solid character. A tribute that is moving because it is true - thanks.
 
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