First off, you all are amazing.
Words can only begin to describe so many of you during the last two weeks. Your comments, cards and letters have been so wonderful to read during this challenging time in our family. Thanks to the world of new media, many of you could drop notes that helped us through some of the darkest days as we prepared for Kent to leave this earth and enter into his new life.
Following his death, you continued to show support that was both overwhelming and humbling. We are establishing a scholarship in his memory to be given at Jesup High School. He was a graduate, past school board member and continued supporter of JHS. We know he wanted to make sure the next generation of farmer gets the opportunity for education before coming back to the farm.
Kristine, my youngest sister, and I both made comments during the funeral. Here are my remarks, not so much for you to read, but as small place on the internet to learn more about the man who cared for the land, his family and community.
Remembering Kent Yeager
January 17, 2014
Standing up here does bring back a ton of memories.
It is from this very spot that I did some of my first public speaking by reading scripture. This is also the same vantage point Pastor Stoffregen could look up into the balcony most Sunday’s and see two squirrelly little boys being contained by their fathers. Mr. John Bergman, that’s just a hypothetical story. Maybe.
This is also the same church where Kent spent many days of his life from baptism to confirmation and would continue to deacon and church council.
That’s one side of Kent Yeager. But let’s get to the chase here and why so many of you are here.
Who had Kent drop in to your house unannounced? Put your hand up please… keep it up here… now how many of you received a phone call ahead of time?
This is the point in the program when we could go deep with fishing stories. He cast a wide net in getting people into the boat. He hooked you on the sport and the social side of it.
But really, I think Dad enjoyed the telling of the fish tale the most.
Or any story for that matter. Dad could really spin a yarn. He did great character development and you felt like you were there. Oftentimes, the finish was the challenge. He’d crack himself up so much – and laugh his way through the punchline.
Yeager boys on the farm. October, 2013.
I’d feel like I did a good job telling a story when I could get him to laugh. I remember one night I was speaking to the Jesup Lions Club on Farmer Appreciation Night. I ran a couple of jokes by him before hand to see if they were too inside baseball for the room or just a bit too sharp against someone. He laughed, but thought I should go a little softer on the guys there.
After we were done with the formal event and were gathered in the lounge area, I told my original jokes and he howled — along with everyone else. I am so thankful for that night as the Weber’s and Breuer’s sure enjoyed those jokes that are not fit for broadcast.
He had good instincts on who he could have fun with.
Take the farmer wave for instance. You know the one. He’d have an out-of-state passenger in the truck who would be amazed at how many people Kent knew. So, Dad, sensing an opportunity, would say as the next truck on the road approached, “hey there’s Tommy” and wave. The driver of the other vehicle would wave back. He’d do it again and again until the passenger figured out he’d been had.
Last known group gathering of the Yeager siblings. Grant, Barb, Brian, Lynda, Kent and Mark in April of 2013 at Kent and Joellen’s 50th wedding anniversary party.
The other night mom and my sisters sat and read through Dad’s old diaries. We enjoyed his attention to detail about bank discussions, children’s progresses, fishing adventures and meetings he attended.
He was very matter of fact for a long time. We’d see very little emotion other than an outburst over escaped cows, trampled fence or lack of rain.
But lately he’d shown the ability to be more emotional over a family memory of his father, or the days of going to sale barn to bid on cattle with Pop, his grandfather. Dad sure did love the cattle business.
Christmas Game Night. Kent actually sat down for this game and did not offer his traditional “assistance” to participants.
Or even a holiday that was just right because we would all be together. We’d laugh and be loud, imagine that. We would also play board games, except for Kent, who didn’t want to actually play the game, just offer “assistance” by shouting out random answers. Sometimes he was correct, other times he was wrong. But we never knew if we should believe him or not because the answers typically sounded like they could be correct. And then he would walk away from the game satisfied that he had us all completely confused and annoyed. By the way, his best game was Balderdash, the competition to make you answers sound believable enough to fool others.
We’d sing Christmas songs, including one he was very insistent on this year, “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.”
That just happened a few weeks ago. We’ll always have that time in our hearts.
Kent and Joellen attending the wedding of Clark and Elaine. Photo from 1962.
I’m really sad because today marks the last organized story time with the focus on Kent. Many of you have told stories about Dad that we didn’t know. And one big thing we’ve learned is how much he was a part of so many lives in an impactful way. He was friends to so many people. Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook was afraid if Kent ever joined the social network, he’d overwhelm the system.
In a way, I’m glad this happened when it did. So many of his friends were able to be here and got to memorialize him.
His grandfather Pop had said, it’s no fun being the last leaf on the tree. Kent didn’t want to be the remaining leaf.
Dad was always one of the last ones to leave church. How ironic today he’ll be the first one out the door.
He was tired, he was worn, he was weak.
And now he’s on a great big beautiful river. And the fish are bitin’.