As many of you undoubtedly already know; my Dad, Paul L. Grundemann, passed away yesterday morning.
A proud and private man, my Dad did not want the news of his illness to spread, so many of his friends were totally unaware that this might be coming. Even beyond this, his death was a shock to everyone, even those of us who knew he had gotten sick recently. It just happened so fast.
On December 8th, Paul took himself to the doctor after becoming quite ill. Two days later, on Dec. 10th, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Despite the typically bad prognoses that this brings, we were assured that the cancer had been caught “very early” and that it was “extremely treatable.” This proved to be diametrically mistaken. After 4 trips to the emergency room and one out patient radiation treatment, they decided to keep him in the hospital where he underwent two surgeries, first to install a ‘port’ for chemo-therapy and then a gastric bypass in an attempt to allow him to be able to eat solid food (which he hadn’t in nearly three weeks). Neither of those purposes were met as he died in his sleep, still at the hospital, sometime before 4am, January 4, 2010.
Paul Grundemann is survived by his wife of 30 years – Theresa Anne Kathlene Olearnick Grundemann, his Mother – Martha Lantzy Grundemann, two children – Chris and Sarah Grundemann, two grandchildren – Caius and Cyrus Grundemann, two brothers – Bob and Joe Grundemann and two sisters – Barbara and Leanne Grundemann.
A press release containing his professional achievements will be released by his employer in the next day or two but that was a part of his life that I was not directly a part of. I visited the water and wastewater plants where he worked several times and at one point I even studied for and attained my class C water operators license. Still, the vast majority of the time I spent with my father was the time he spent away from work. Thus, many of his hobbies have fueled my own. Camping, fishing and cross-country skiing with my Dad all sparked my love for these Colorado mountains. Late nights in the garage with him working on various cars over the years made me the gear-head I am today. Wrestling, sailing, astronomy, motorcycles, wine and beer-making (and drinking), archery and firearms were all passed down as well. His passion was so contagious that I have a hard time thinking of any hobby of his that I do not enjoy to this day.
Even greater a gift than these passions however are the lessons that he taught me completely through example. Most notable is the lesson of self-reliance. My Dad showed me that where there is a will, there truly is a way – always. Aut viam inveniam aut faciam. With a little know-how, some basic tools and a willingness to WORK, ANYTHING is possible – and often the know-how and tools can be faked. While self-reliance is the lesson of independence, perseverance and industriousness, he also taught me about courage, honor and truth. About fidelity, discipline and hospitality. While Paul taught me these lessons mainly in the mountains, on the lake and in the garage; I have applied them to every aspect of my life since then, and that has made all the difference.
My Dad is truly my greatest hero.
So much so that I had never even considered that he was not invincible until the day before he died. But more than his strength, I want to honor his love. He loved all of his family and friends enough to speak his mind, to tell us what he truly believed to be best for us and argue the point when necessary. He loved his wife, my Mom, for the entire 30 years that they were married – well over a marathon by todays standards. He loved his children so much that anytime we truly needed something, we had but to ask and he did what was necessary – from five bucks for gas to five hundred for a car to get my new wife and I to work. From fixing a dryer over the phone to a toilet in person. From an hour long drive to rescue someone to days spent on a concrete floor under a car he didn’t own. Even more staggering was his willingness to stand behind and beside me, through all of my failures and successes. Allthough for a long time my mistakes were frequent and often disastrous, he never quit on me, never shrugged and walked away. He was always there when I was willing to look up and see him, with a helping hand and a way forward.
So here is to my Dad – A greater father I could not ask for and a greater man the world has not often seen.
I am so sorry for your loss. You wrote this very eloquently. When I heard you speak this at the service I was saddened not just by the circumstances that brought us there, but with the sober truth that I did not get to know your dad more than as a neighbor/aquaintance. All the testimonies given were of a truly remarkable man. Our prayers are with you, your mom and your family.
Chris, we haven’t met, but I had the honor of working with Paul from 1995 to 2006. I have always had the highest regard for your Dad’s character, intellect and his strength. Your essay about him was spot-on with what I saw of him from the professional side as well. The high regard that everyone in the water industry had for your Dad in the region was fully warranted. I am saddened to hear of your loss and your family has my sympathy and concern.