Friday, October 17, 2008

Grandpa Barben

Yesterday my grandfather Howard Barben passed away at the age of 96. Ultimately it was a good thing but it is still a little hard to deal with. He is absolutely one of the greatest heroes in my life. Some of my earliest memories involve him. Although he was extremely religious and an extremely focused individual he had a great sense of humor and was always looking to have fun. (because of this he really loved my dad) He had 7 daughters, 50 some odd grandchildren and I don’t have any idea how many great grand children.

I am now crying as I write this.

Born in Park City Utah and raised most of his life in Ketchum, Idaho he learned to work through his time on the farm. When he was younger he worked with his father to break mustangs to sell to other farmers. (he became a great source of information for me when I was working on the film Spirit at DreamWorks.) Some of the ranch hands worked with him and he became a trick horse rider doing a lot of the dangerous sorts of things you might see at a riding demonstration at a rodeo.

He served his LDS mission in the Eastern States mission where he ended up being the preacher for several months to a Baptist congregation that couldn’t afford a preacher. Little did they know he was not only preaching to them from the Bible but from the Book of Mormon as well. When I was pretty young he was called to be the mission president in Alaska. I don’t remember much of this but I do remember helping him unpack a crate that he had shipped back when he returned. The crate had a preserved King Crab which he mounted on a large black velvet covered board that he then hung in his home.

He won local political office and after seeing how much money the government wasted became an advocate for making sure that as much money as possible go to the church - as he felt that it did a lot more good. I’ve been told and I am not sure as to the accuracy – but he never made more than 10 K in salary a year but ended up giving more than 10 million to the church and church education. (lesson- by land) He even allowed me to use a small portion to start the animation program the first year I taught at BYU- when the departments were hesitant to invest in a program that was not approved.

There are a lot of crazy stories about my grandfather’s inventions and things he did in his spare time but I’ll save those for another day. Since my family was the blue collar family in this extended family we did a lot of work for and with grandpa and whether we were mowing his lawn, shoveling the snow off his driveway or pouring cement on a home improvement project it was always a joy to be with him.

At 90 or 91 his doctor told him that it was probably time to stop his tennis playing which he did a couple of times a week. He had been going down hill for a while but still had moments of brilliance. I went to visit him at my parent’s house on Tuesday. I thought he was sleeping and when walked into the room he called me by name and said hello. I will always remember that our last exchange was that I told him I loved him and he told me he loved me too.

It’s weird to think that he is gone. When many are raised in the church to think, “What would Jesus do?” I always grew up thinking, “What would Grandpa Barben do?” When many students were going to BYU on scholarship funds paid for by my grandfather my mother and I, as well as many of my relatives worked to pay our way through school. Although I haven’t always felt this way, I do now appreciate how he helped to give me a strong work ethic while also understanding that we are owed nothing and yet owe everything to God. He was quite often at my sporting events when I was younger, gave me my patriarchal blessing and preformed my wedding as well. He specifically told me how proud of me he was for the work I have done at BYU and the impact we are making. What a man!

Love you Grandpa.

7 Comments:

Blogger Laura said...

It sounds like he really fought a good fight.
We all owe him a debt of gratitude for helping you start the program too. He must have had great foresight. And a very big heart.
I'm sorry for your loss, Kelly.

5:22 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

I share similar feelings with you because my grandpa was also the one who gave me my patriarchal blessing and sealed Mariona and I in the St. George temple. He died right after we moved to Phoenix and ya know the initial feeling was not sorrow but an incredible peace in knowing there's no doubt I'll see him again. I feel he's able to check up on me more and I hope I make him proud. Your grandpa was a good man, what little time I knew him. My heart goes out to you during thins time of loss.

7:49 AM  
Blogger SummerV said...

Very nice post about Grandpa, I guess it took that for you to write on your blog again eh? It was a bittersweet day.

10:12 PM  
Blogger Adrian Ropp said...

I'm ashamed that it's been so long since I've been to your blog, and really sorry to hear about your Grandpa's passing. Grandparents like him are real treasures, and I'm sure he's watching over you now with great love and pride.

10:05 AM  
Blogger REM-Brant said...

Wow. Thank you for sharing.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Steve-o said...

I remember you talking about him in class. It is interesting to only hear mention of someone, a story here, a story there, but to find out that they are gone. The world seems to be a bit more empty. Yet, Through his goodness, i know that i have been a benifactor, and how much better i am for it. Thank you Grandpa barben for your light and the rays that i have been able to catch.

8:52 AM  
Blogger prashant said...

He must have had great foresight.


Work from home India

4:35 PM  

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