Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Grandpa Modrell

Harry House Modrell was born October 24, 1903 in St. Joseph, Missouri according to the St. Joseph Record of Births, St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri.  He was the only child of Arthur Ernest Modrell and Hattie Catherine House.

He used to tell a funny story about growing up across from a graveyard and having to check on the animals on their land on the other side.  It was a very dark night and he couldn’t see much.  He said he heard a noise behind him and turned around to see eyes staring back at him.  He was so scared that he doubled up his fist and hit the thing between the eyes.  After it stammered away, he realized it was a donkey he had just hit.  I can’t do this story justice, he was the only one who could tell this story to both keep you on the edge of your seat and, at the end, laugh until it hurt.  I hope to someday discover where this land was that he lived on.

He graduated from Central High School in 1924 in St. Joseph, Missouri.  His Senior Yearbook states “Harry has an enviable record, he has attended Central for four years and has never missed a day in spite of the fact that he must drive a long distance. He will attend Junior College.”  This is very impressive to me, and was something my father (Harry’s son) instilled in me.  My dad always said, you will go to school and if you can’t make it (due to illness), I can come and get you.  It sounds to me like my dad and I learned a valuable lesson of dedication from my Grandpa Modrell, one I still follow to this day.

He married Maxine Wilhelmina Eneau on July 8, 1927 in St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri.  I need to find the marriage record so I can discover where they were married.  I wish I had a wedding photo of them. 

Harry House Modrell and Maxine Wilhelmina Eneau
They had one (1) child, Jerry Eneau Modrell (my dad) who was born April 27, 1928.

In the 1950’s, they owned and operated a Grocery and General Store on Main Street in Dearborn, Platte County, Missouri.  I have a newspaper article dated April 14, 1977 titled “27 Years Ago” from the Dearborn Democrat in which it speaks of them as the owners.  The store was on the bottom level and they lived on the top level of their building.  I need to see if I can find an earlier article from when they opened the store.

At some point after Grandpa Modrell retired, he came to live with me and dad.  I believe it was around 1972.  Dad relocated to Topeka, Kansas in 1973 and Grandpa Modrell did not want to move with us.  We kept our house in Grandview, Missouri and Grandpa Modrell kept his house in St. Joseph, Missouri.  We would drive back to Grandview every weekend to take care of our house, while Grandpa Modrell would drive to St. Joseph every weekend to take care of his house.  Grandpa Modrell had told me he was keeping his house in St. Joseph for me to have someday.  This arrangement continued for many years.  In the latter 1970’s, someone had broken into Grandpa Modrell’s house and he had it boarded up.  He didn’t go to St. Joseph as often after that, but we continued to drive to Grandview every weekend to make sure Grandpa Modrell had groceries, and to pay the bills.

Each year on Memorial Day Weekend, I would go with Grandpa Modrell to lay flowers on the graves of my mother and Grandma Modrell.  I still make that trek as often as possible.  Grandpa Modrell’s health declined over the years and he eventually started walking with a cane, then went to a walker, then was placed in a small house owned by a nurse that would take care of her patients daily when he was unable to walk anymore.  On January 21, 1982, she called trying to get a hold of my dad because she had taken my Grandpa to the hospital.  I gave her his work number and waited for dad to let me know something.  When dad came home from work, I asked about Grandpa and he said my Grandpa passed away that afternoon from complications of Pneumonia.

He is buried in Ashland Cemetery, St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri.

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