Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Goodbye Uncle Orland!

Orland with Marian - abt 1920

We lost Uncle Orland last week.  Ever since I have been trying to verbalize my thoughts.  Orland lived a long and full life and at a 100 years age had experienced much of what life has to offer.  We were unusually close, partly because he was my godfather and my parents always had a close relationship.  We became closer when Orland started using a computer because I was his tech support…it has been a few years since I got a phone call and heard his voice saying “Carm, I got a problem!

Back Left:  Don, Duane, Byron, Pauline, Marian, Orland, Bernard
Front Left:  Norma, Florence, Ora & Elaine - 65th Wedding Anniversary of Florence & Ora - 1983

Orland was the oldest of ten children.  You might say that he took that role seriously as being the oldest brother and son to my great grandparents.  He was born in Mapleton, IA and lived there on the family farm until he was 14 years old.  Orland spent a lot of time working with his grandfather (George Christian Shawver) as well as his own father.  That time was precious to Orland and those memories were some he treasured his entire life. 

My Baptism - 1967 - Orland & Patti
My close connection with Orland goes back to my baptism.  Orland and his daughter Patti were my godparents.  I always received cards and gifts from Orland and Patti and they have been both been a treasured part of my life.  In the late 90’s Orland discovered the computer and utilized both my Mom and I as tech support.  I spent many hours with him showing him how to scan photos, work with Excel, use Word and anything else that came to mind.  In fact, I spent a lot of time with both Orland and my grandmother, Marian doing the same type of activities.  When I hear someone tell me that they are too old to work with computers, I know better because Orland and Grandma proved otherwise.  I also heard a lot of stories about his childhood and life.  There were many times during my research that I have had a question and was able to ask both Orland and my grandmother for information.  After my grandmother moved back to Idaho in 2001, it was so much fun to listen to the two of them visit and squabble like the siblings they were.  Mom and I even had to make arrangements when we were both gone on a vacation in 2004.  We told Orland that if he had an issue, he was to call my brother.  We also warned my brother that a call might be coming.  Sure enough, Orland had to call Bub…I remember seeing my nephew chatting with someone on the computer when he was about 10.  I found out that it was Orland.  Alex complained that his typing was really slow and I told him to give him a break – the last time he had a typing class was probably when graduated from high school in 1939.

I have been so lucky to have had a very close relationship with my great uncle.  We became friends as well as family.  I was so lucky to hear many stories that I am sure that I will use in my blogs to come.  I am going to do my best not to mourn his loss.  He lived a long and healthy life full of friends and family.  Orland was fortunate to grow up in a very close family that remained close until his passing last week.  I know that he had a tremendous amount of respect for his parents.  Orland like to tell the story that after his father died at 98 years of age, there was an unopened package of underwear in his drawer that his mother gave him.  Orland took them home and put them in his drawer unopened.  He said that “he still wasn’t man enough to wear his father’s underwear!”  When Orland came home from World War II or Korea (I don’t remember which one)  he bought his mother a rose.  That rose was moved every time my great grandparents moved which was several times.  After they passed, Orland moved the rose to his yard in a place of honor.  The last time I visited with Orland for any period of time was at his 100th birthday party.  I showed him some pictures from negatives that included a photo of his parents.  Orland had the sweetest smile on his face, remembering his parents.

Orland's 100th birthday - Carmen & Eugene Johnson
pictured with Orland - 2018
So our family and his friends are going to say goodbye to Orland in a few days.  Some won’t be able to be there but everyone will miss him at the family reunions and all the other family occasions that we have had through the years.  When you look at his lifespan it is pretty remarkable.  Orland’s parents were born in the 1890’s, grandparents in the 1850’s and 1860’s and he knew his great grandmother who was born in 1844.  Orland was born in 1918 and he had several great, great, great nieces and nephews and some of them are old enough to remember him.  He leaves behind his daughter and grandchildren and a whole lot more whose lives he touched in so many ways.  Orland was the last living World War II veteran in our family and truly was a member of the “Greatest Generation!”  
Orland with brothers Duane (left) & Byron (right) at National Guard Reunion
Orland holding Patti and Eileen & Mike - 1949

Bernard & Orland - Returning from WWII


  1. So sorry for your loss..Thank you so much for sharing.
    Love and prayers
    Dwight and Susan Renz