Monday, December 07, 2009

A mind that grapples



My paternal grandfather was an amazingly smart, clever, and warm man. He died eleven and a half years ago, and he was my last grandparent.

Grampa was a renaissance man. He earned his Ph.D. in music from Northwestern University, His dissertation is cited all over the internet, such as from this site:
Wanninger, Forrest Irving. "Dies Irae: Its Use in Non-Liturgical Music from the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century." Ph.D. diss., Northwestern University, 1962.

The Dies Irae, a rhymed sequence, was probably written by Thomas of Celano in the thirteenth century. Accepted as part of the Requiem Mass early in the fourteenth century, it was significant in early polyphonic settings of the Requiem. The words continued to be important in later Requiem settings, but the melody found its way into secular music from the beginning of the nineteenth century and with universal appeal, attained a character far removed from its original place in the church service.

He worked for years as a professor of music at Western Illinois University, where he greatly influenced his loyal students. A few times in my life I have actually randomly run in to people who, upon finding out my name, told me about how much they loved my grandfather as a teacher.

He was also an accomplished home chef, a wine connoisseur, and a Cubs fan. Most importantly though, he was a loving and devoted husband, father, and grandfather. My grampa was such a kind soul, such a funny man, such a caring person. I loved visiting his house, and I loved it when he visited us.


He loved playing games with his grandkids, whether it was cards, board games, or, as shown here, the new-fangled Pong game:


He genuinely loved spending time with us, reading, chatting, questioning:


I quite often think about my grampa. I think of the example he set about the importance of being an educated, well-rounded, and compassionate person. Thinking about my grampa today, I find comfort knowing that he would be proud of the person I have become.


My grampa was born on December 7, 1909. 100 years ago today.

5 Comments:

At 9:58 PM, Blogger MEGAN posited...

Here are some of my favorite memories of Grandpa...

the scuffle of his leather slippers on the wood floors and upstairs blue tile...

the smell of the dress up drawer in the upstairs bedroom--My mom told me Gram Mary liked the smell of lavender and lined the drawers with it...

Grandpa sitting next to me at the piano and the click of his fingernails on the ivory keys...

Feeling like I was in another world in Grandpa's tangled backyard and ending my adventure eating wild mint on the patio under the gold 'W'...

Studying every detail of the chubby characters on the downstairs bathroom wallpaper over and over again...

Sliding into the kitchen booth to savor my morning Cheerios and read "i thank you God for most this amazing day" with a big red 'x' from Gram Mary's correction to read, "i thank you God for this most amazing day"...

Sneaking into Grandpa's bedroom to get a drop of his oil of olay...

 
At 4:42 PM, Anonymous deedub posited...

you youngsters did a great job remembering Campusview, thanks!

 
At 9:21 PM, Anonymous Sue Wanninger posited...

deedub,
Is that you who gave me the cowboy cookie recipe at the shower your Mom had for me in 1966?

 
At 3:30 PM, Anonymous deedub posited...

yes, and a plate of cowboy cookies would hit the spot right now!

By the way, Dies Irae can be heard on autumn Saturday afternoons if you watch the University of Georgia football team. Their band plays the Day of Wrath theme when their team is on defense!

 
At 12:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous posited...

I was Dr. Wanninger's choral graduate assistant in 1973 and 1974. I just retired as a music teacher in the fall of 2013 and it was the teachings of Dr. Wanninger that made me strong and made me who I was as a successful teacher.

 

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