My grandfather, Pop Pop, passed away last week. He was 96 years old.
He was the youngest of seven children, born in Philadelphia in 1919. Woodrow Wilson was president. This was the year that Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity was proven true; that dial telephones were introduced; that short wave radios and the pop-up toaster were invented.
Pop Pop’s high school yearbook dubbed him a “very versatile young man.” He dreamed of being a big league baseball player, but he was also a known scholastic superstar and an aspiring engineer. It was the Great Depression, and his mother sent him off each day with one apple for lunch.
He went on to study engineering at Drexel University while also working for a water heater factory that was then called the Pennsylvania Range Boiler Company. As the company’s purchasing agent, he was “always on the lookout for better products at the most economical price,” said his college yearbook. He relished a challenge — the yearbook also referenced his impassioned discussions with professors and his knack for scoring top-notch tickets to ball games.
Pop Pop worked his way up the ranks at the factory until eventually becoming president and then co-owner. He had two sons — my dad and my uncle — and eventually, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
His relatives and friends knew him for his indomitable drive and spunky smarts, but also for his loyal devotion to family. In his personal and professional pursuits alike, he was nothing if not perseverant. He lost his first wife, my dad’s mother, when she was merely 61 years old; but he went on loving everyone lucky enough to enter into his circle, again and again, up until the end. He was our patriarch; our mentor; our anchor; our source of studied wisdom on everything from the Phillies to the stock-market to self-development.
On his last days, Pop Pop said that he could not have asked for a more fulfilling life.