On July 20, my family said goodbye to a wonderful man, my husband’s grandfather, Paul E. Willson. It was a very bittersweet time for us as we mourned the loss of a beloved man but rejoiced in the hope of his resting in the arms of Jesus.
I was never very close to Grandpa so the two weeks we spent with our extended family were very educational. I was reminded that he was an incredible man who lived a very full life. But at the funeral, as my Father-in-law read the eulogy, I came to this realization: Whether he realized it or not, Grandpa Paul built an amazing legacy that has already started making its way down the generations. My desire is to make sure that, at the very least, part of this legacy will continue to make it down to my children.
Grandpa’s passion took him far in life. He had a passion for airplanes. Not only did he teach aircraft maintenance here in Tulsa, but he also had his private pilot’s license and took his children and grandchildren up for rides on multiple occasions. Furthermore, he used his expertise in aviation maintenance to write training materials and teach pilots who were training as missionaries for New Tribes Mission (Ethos360) as well as assist in aircraft maintenance. He had a passion for trains. I remember when I first started hearing about his “train room” and thinking “why is this thing such a big deal?” then being blown away by the model world he created for his trains to travel around in his basement. He also loved working on cars, restoring them when he could. His most well known restoration was an old WW2 Army Jeep. His passion for music made him an accomplished organist who would received standing ovations from a church congregation who stayed late after church just to hear him practice. And his passion for motorcycles lead him to order a new one while in the hospital after nearly DYING in a motorcycle accident days before.
In short, Grandpa was a passionate man who pursued his hobbies to the point of excellence and he taught that to his children. I now see where my husband gets his passionate nature and love for anything mechanical and I desire to see my children learn to pursue things with the same tenacity that their Great Grandpa did.
One thing that I’ve observed and love about my in-laws is the tight family bond they have. If an out of town sibling is visiting, all plans for that week are put on hold so we can spend time with him/her. And now, I understand where they get it: Grandpa.
No distance was too great for Grandpa to travel if it meant seeing his children and grandchildren. Even with his health failing, he chose to drive all the way to Colorado to see his granddaughter get married. But the true testament to his loyalty was his marriage. He and his wife shared 62 years together! That is unheard of these days. That means that through the ups and downs of marriage and parenting, he chose to stay, because nothing on this earth meant more to him than his family.
My prayer and goal is to pass on the strong family bonds that go all the way to Grandpa and teach my boys the importance of family loyalty in a world that seeks to tare families apart.
The anchor of Grandpa’s life was his faith in God. It fueled his passions as it lead him to serve as a missionary for many years and as an organist in several churches. It served as the foundation on which he built his family. And it filled him with hope in his final days as he firmly believed that “to depart and be with Christ is far better” (Philippians 1:23). In fact, I think it’s safe to say that Grandpa’s faith is his true legacy. He taught it to his children, who then taught their children and now, we have the opportunity to continue to pass on that legacy of faith to our children.
Will you Join Me?
Grandpa’s legacy is evidence of a life lived in pursuit of righteousness. It was built because he took his calling as a husband and father seriously and actively passed this on to his sons. He took the time to teach them practical things like how to work on cars. He demonstrated how to work hard to provide for his family. He lead his family well by living out his faith everyday, not just Sundays.
In short, Grandpa’s legacy is one of Biblical Manhood which is severely lacking in today’s culture. It’s clear that the world is on the warpath to destroy Godly men. It’s important to realize that as Christian parents it falls on us to shape what the next generation of men will look like. It’s our job to raise them to be diligent and passionate in all they do, loyal to their families, and strong in faith.
Maybe you never had the chance to meet Grandpa. Or maybe you met him but never really got to know him. I hope that this post not only gave you a glimpse into his life but it inspired you to follow in his footsteps and raise our boys as the next generation of Godly men.