Saturday, July 26, 2008

Celebration of Life

Yesterday I went to my great-grandfather's funeral, which was actually very amazing. While everyone was saddened by the loss of such a great man, it was actually a celebration of his life.

My uncle Mark (Lute's son) who was a state represenative for Wisconsin for 8 years spoke, as well as his long time friend Bud Grant, long time coach of the Minnesota Vikings and member of the NFL Hall of Fame. Grandpa recruited him out of college to pitch for the baseball team he managed in Osceola, WI. (Bud also played professional basketball for the Minneapolis Lakers, who later moved to didn't actually think there were lakes in LA, did you?)

My great-grandpa was an amazing man: I got the numbers yesterday and he had 7 children, 23 grandchildren, 54 great grandchildren and 4 great-great-grandchildren at the time of his passing. What a family!

He had an impact on so many people's lives; he hosted a radio show, wrote two books and happily passed out business cards that read "Professional Tinkerer" for years and years. I have posted the obituary from his hometown newspaper below so you can get a glimpse of what his adventures looked like:

"Luther Roderick "Lute" Pettis of Osceola died July 18, 2008. He was 93.

He was born to Clarence and Hester Pettis Jan. 4, 1915, in Buffalo, Minn. At an early age he lost his father in an occupational accident. The family moved to a small farm in Alden Township near the West Immanuel Church. Luther, being the eldest, found employment as a "cowboy," locating a ranch in South Dakota that was in need of one. He would "ride the rails" as he put it, to the ranch for the spring roundup, work until after the fall roundup and return home the same way. He earned a living in his father’s stead, with boots and cowboy hat still in a closet somewhere. While at home he met his wife of 73 years at a church function and quite a large family evolved as two of Lute’s sisters married two of his wife’s brothers. God blessed their lives with seven children, they all survive including Mayme his exceptional wife of 73 years.

Also surviving are children, Sherman (Elenore) Osceola; Marlys (Dale Haugen, deceased) Roberts; Gail (Chuck Beaver, deceased) Winter; Rebecca (Arvin) Larson, Osceola;Velma (Daryle) Larson, Saginaw, Mich; Mark (Joey) Hertel; and David (Diane) Osceola; and sister, Jean, in California.

He was preceded in death by his father, mother, one brother, Leland, and four sisters, Iylla, Mary, Audrey, and Ida Dell.

He often would boast the total of well over 80 living direct descendents and his loving wife, who was with him in hospice when he died. She repeated several times "those hands were never out of work."
Luther and Mayme began their married life in New Richmond where Lute was employed by Bernard Motors. They traveled, as their family grew, to Horse Creek, then to Southern Minnesota and his first blacksmith shop in Kasota. It was here where his interest in the game of baseball blossomed. Managing his first team there, he often told of how he made bats for that team, turning them out on the lathe in his shop.
It was on to St. Peter, Minn., where he was employed, because of his mechanical skills and abilities, by Hallet Construction Co. World War II then required these skills be used for defense. He worked for a defense contractor in the Twin Cities, then named Northern Pump, welding and building gun mounts for the U.S. Navy.
Lute and his growing family were now closer to his wife’s home and it was on a trip to visit them that he saw a for-sale sign on the blacksmith shop in Osceola. He inquired, but not having immediate funds for the purchase, was introduced to a local businessman by his wife’s father, Martin Johnson. As for the money, he recalled, this man said to him "you look like an honest much do you need?" The purchase was made and his extraordinary reception into this new town told him he was to settle his family in the community he grew to dearly love, Osceola, (then population just over 600). He used his God-given talents with mechanics to support the growing family, 19 years of which with H.G. Stocker and Son.

Shortly after moving to Osceola a group of young men learned of his interest in baseball. The team was short one man and requested he play with them, at least for this one game. They won the game and as Lute explained many times, they wanted to continue playing but needed a manager. "Since I was the oldest, I was elected to the job." This launched an honest-to-goodness love affair with baseball in Osceola that included construction of a new baseball field, the lights, fences, dugouts, grandstand, uniforms, exhibition games with various semi-pro teams, equipment, Bud Grant, managing the Osceola Braves for 19 years, many lasting friendships, and so much more.
Also, during his life in Osceola, he hosted a radio program that was broadcast weekly on Saturdays over the station in Stillwater, Minn. The name, "Hello From Osceola," gave him an opportunity to boast of his home town, and he did just that. There were no notes, no script, just delightful conversation. The show was so popular that there was an actual waiting list of sponsoring advertisers.
Lute made so many friends and found it terribly difficult to make enemies. He was a devout Christian and left Friday on the arm of his very best friend and his manager, Jesus Christ. You are safe at home now..... we’ll see you, Dad." (The Osceola Sun)


Ryan Bertram

I miss Great Grandpa every day. He always had an amazing story and moral for any situation. I can't wait to see his and great grandma's soul in heaven!! - Anita's second born Twin

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