My Grandfather, My Friend, My Hero

December 16, 2009
By Dani Hartnett BRONZE, Carmel, Indiana
Dani Hartnett BRONZE, Carmel, Indiana
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Jay Robert Renick lives a life some might see as ordinary, and sure, it might be on the surface; but there is much more to this man then there might seem. He is a humble man with resounding morals, a man with unyielding faith, a selfless man who puts his family and complete strangers before him, a man with a great heart that we all should look up to. This man is a hard worker, a living success story, and so much more, and he doesn’t even know it. All of these things are what make Jay Robert, my grandfather, my hero.

It all began when this sparkling blue eyed baby was born on Thanksgiving in 1929. He grew up during the Great Depression in a poor family; however, they were lucky enough to never be hungry. Jay Robert would later call his childhood great. One aspect of his childhood that caused him trouble was when he became ill with rheumatic fever when he was a freshman in high school. His doctor told him that he could never play sports and that he couldn’t be a farmer, which was his dream. “I just went on and remembered what a teacher had told me ‘never say never’.” He would soon overcome his illness and live out his dream. Once he was of age, his father sent him to college for agriculture. While his father was a farmer himself and Jay Robert aspired to be one as well, his father told him that he needed to learn the business so he could do more than feed his family by making a business. As he was living in a barn right outside of the Ohio State University campus and taking care of the farm to earn his keep, it would later pay off when his dairy farm prospered. His business sense did not end there as he continues to farm, now passing most of the labor onto his children and grandchildren and rental properties. Owning over 3,000 acres, which is a large portion of the small town him and his family call home, helps continue to feed the family while helping others, another passion of his.

The Nomads, a group that does charity work in underprivileged areas doing such tasks as rebuilding homes, has been a large part of my grandpa’s life for 15 years. He has travelled to such places as China and Bolivia to sight see but also to help out wherever he can. Jay Robert gets great joy out of helping others; he loves “to see people thankful for your accomplishments.” His charity work is strongly tied to his faith. My grandpa’s beliefs are that all you need to be successful are faith, hope, and love; he has an exponential amount of all three of these things. It is often that his faith and his love for volunteer work come together, such as when he built a community center for his church. He came up with the entire idea, the blueprint, and had the center built, helping wherever he could along the way. Jay Robert may never be fully appreciated for all he has done for his community and the people in it but that is not what is important to him. With all of his accomplishments, he does not even see himself as a hero or someone worthy of admiration; he just sees himself as an “ordinary common person [that] had more good luck than bad.”

My grandfather’s luck continued when he married my grandmother, Marilyn. They’re love is still evident today after 60 years, but even with the best marriages come hardships. Before my grandparents had their four daughters, they had a son. Their son only lived a few hours. After grieving over the loss of their first child, they had to deal with a couple miscarriages. Their neighbors told them afterwards that they thought they were never going to have a family. Once they had their family, their neighbors though weren’t going to stop. Without Jay Robert’s strength and the strength of Marilyn, they might have actually never had a family. Through perseverance and faith, this strong couple can overcome anything.

To date, my grandfather claims to be retired, but he still works extremely hard every single day. He “just likes to accomplish a little something each day.” My grandfather also lives by the golden rule, do as to others as you would have them do unto you. If we all lived by these ideals, then the world would be a much better place. Jay Robert currently has eight great grand children, seven grandchildren, and four daughters. His ornery attitude and almost child like mentality make him more of a friend than a father, grandfather, or great grandfather. His 5’8” stature, white hair, bright smile, and baby blue eyes that still sparkle help to endear him to his friends and family. He “just likes to see [his children] them grow up into great individuals,” which is a sign of a truly great father. Jay Robert’s greatest accomplishments were “marrying my wife, having a great family, children, grand children, and great grandchildren.” After all of these accomplishments his greatest failure would be being a “poor communicator.”

The connection to Odysseus may be hard to draw seeing as my grandpa is humble and selfless, but I believe they do have similar character traits. They are both faithful; my grandpa has a very strong believe in God, and Odysseus was faithful to the Gods, relying on them to help him. They are both hard workers; my grandpa is a farmer and a volunteer worker who never stops working, and Odysseus worked very hard in Troy, to return home, and once he got home. Similar in some cases, my grandpa seems to be lacking the faults that almost ruined Odysseus.

To be a hard worker, even once you’ve reached the age of 80 and most people around you either have chosen to stop working or no longer can work, to be faithful, even in hard times when it’s hard to know what to believe in, to be selfless, with your family, your friends, and even people less fortunate than you or people better than off than you just anyone that you can help. All of these traits and more are perfectly exemplified in my grandfather, Jay Robert Renick. “He is the most unassuming and giving man that was placed on this Earth to help other people. He always puts other people before himself,” said Jay Robert’s daughter. He is a family man with morals that we should all aspire to live by. He has touched so many lives that without him, so many people would be struggling or so much worse off, yet he does not take the credit for it because he believes that it is role in life. My grandfather is an excellent man, a hero, and everyone should hope to one day be as great of a person as he has become.

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