Eulogy for Charles J. Baron – April 11, 2014
On behalf of my grandmother Wanda, my dad Charlie, my Auntie Deanie and Uncle David, sister Stephanie and cousins Michael and Kevin, I’d like to thank you all for being here today to celebrate the life of my much loved Grandpa.
In his 93 years on this earth, my grandfather was a lot of things –son, brother, husband, father, uncle, butcher, mill worker, army veteran, Webster school committee member, town dog catcher, golfer, Yankees fan – we all have our flaws, math whiz, avid grocery shopper, pitch player, Wanda’s chauffeur, and one of my personal favorites, master pickle maker. But the role that I like to think that he liked best was Grandpa, and in more recent years, it certainly was Great Grandpa.
I believe strongly that my childhood was better off having grown up in the same town as my grandparents. And I’m sure that Stephanie, Mike and Kevin feel the same way. Our grandparents were a constant presence in our lives; they were like second parents, except with the added benefits of a candy dish, cookie jar and cans of soda in the basement, all available for public consumption at any time. Because we were so close to our grandparents, in more ways than one, we have so many happy memories of them, and today I’d like to share a few of our favorite memories and thoughts about Grandpa.
Grandpa taught all of us a lot of things, how to be kind, loyal, committed to family, but for Kevin and me especially, I think we inherited his love of a good time! Back in the day, so I’m told, good ol Grandpa could throw ‘em back with the best of them. After my Grandma cut him off and he hung up the six packs for good, he assumed a new role – Chief Can Collector. As the stories go, I’d have a few friends over to the lake when my dad was out of town. I’d do my best to clean up the beverage containers, but inevitably would fail. Without a word, Grandpa would swoop in the next morning to fill up a trash bag of beer cans left in the bushes, in the lake etc. He’d then call Kevin to discuss his loot and how much money he made off of my antics in bottle deposits– never once disclosing to me — or my dad– his secret clean up missions. What a guy!
Another thing we all picked up from Grandpa – his work ethic. Some of my earliest memories of Grandpa are visiting him at Thrifty’s market and feeling so special because I was getting a slice of cheese and a kiss from the big guy behind the counter. Boy, did he love that grocery store. And all grocery stores, really. Grandpa would drive all over the state for a double coupon day, and he could recite the sales in the weekly fliers religiously. I think my dad and Deanie had to beg him to finally retire from Jimmy’s Market when he was well into his 70s. A hard worker who truly loved his job.
Because he worked so tirelessly to make an honest living, Grandpa ever appreciated the value of a dollar. But he also had a thing for scratch tickets and would leave them under our plates or chairs at family holidays. And if you ever needed your spare change rolled- Grandpa was your man! In his later years, he took great joy in giving his great grandchildren Baron, Caroline, Maggie, Emma, Grayson, Allison and Hannah silver dollars every time they visited – so long as they gave him a kiss. Always a shrewd businessman.
Grandpa also made all of us proud by serving on the Webster School Committee for close to 20 years. I can remember seeing the red and white “Baron for School Committee” signs around town and just being so excited that that was my Grandpa. Luckily, he didn’t make me or Steph bang those signs on the telephone polls around town, but I don’t think Mike and Kevin got off so easy.
Grandpa loved his four grandkids with all of his heart. Through the years, he had fun swimming with us in Webster lake, flipping our burgers and dogs at family cookouts, attending our sporting events, going to Disney world with us, and watching all of us become members of the National Honor Society just like him, graduate from college, get married and have babies of our own. He was welcoming and kind to our spouses, and adored just watching his great grandchildren play with each other. As Kevin says, he was the perfect grandfather and great grandfather in so many ways…except maybe for being a Yankees fan, but we always forgave him for that.
It goes without saying that Grandpa also was a wonderful father. Deanie — without question — was his pride and joy. He doted on his little girl his whole life, even liked to do her grocery shopping, and appreciated greatly all she did for him these past few years. It was a father-daughter relationship at its best.
And so loyal and committed, David treated my Grandpa like he was his own dad. They were friends and confidants until the end. Thank you Uncle David for all that you did for him.
And his son Kaz, otherwise known as the “Golden Boy” as Deanie jokingly calls him. I’m pretty sure I could not fill this church with the amount of pride my grandpa had for my dad and all of his accomplishments in the sports world. My Grandpa always wore those Las Vegas Invitational shirts around town with great pride. He never missed one of my dad’s golf tournaments on TV and he even got to attend a few, including the Masters. But when regular life set in, it was Friday night dinners at the Colonial Club and Saturday lunches at Normandy Ave, hundreds of them, where father and son would catch up on life and of course, talk sports.
And last but certainly not least, his dear, Waj. Less than a month shy of 70 years of marriage, which truly is incredible, Wanda and Charlie’s life together withstood the test of time. A few years ago, I gave my grandfather a book to fill in the family history of sorts. Over the past few days, we have been looking at his answers. In the limo over here this morning, Kevin reminded me of one entry. The question was: who was your best friend? His answer: my wife.
Whether it was golfing 18 holes on a Tuesday morning, dancing at the Polish Hall, having Thursday lunches with Cioci Jennie, traveling to Venezuela, the Bahamas or Poland, or driving to Three Rivers to listen to Jimmy Sturr’s Polka band, these two had a lot of fun, were constantly on the go, shared a lot of laughs and a lot of love. From day one, my Grandfather embraced my Grandmother’s family like it was his own, especially her brothers and sisters, and he was so devoted to her, wanting to take care of her to the very end.
Greater than the sadness of my Grandpa’s death is the joy and good that he spread while here with us. As one of my favorite children’s authors once wrote: “We should cry not because it’s over, but smile because it happened.”