Although I just posted this on my illustration blog this morning, I would like to share it again as these sorts of family histories are so very important to me and I think all of us. I didn't want anyone interested in my work to miss it.
The timing of this topic speaking to the content I addressed in it. Yesterday I received 4 stuffed to capacity boxes full of nothing short of treasure. My mother was visiting her parents, my grandparents home in Minnesota. I asked her to send me some of the massive archive of photographs, slides, negatives of my late grandfather. He passed in 2008 at 93 after what was nothing short of an incredibly rich life.
There are many amazing stories in my family history, but today I want to tell you about him. He was born in Podlesie, Belarus in 1915. He grew up, married my grandmother and had my mother in that area. They as a family survived the war, concentration camp, shrapnel from a bombing, and made the move to America in 1949-50. My grandfather had been a doctor in Europe, but upon entering the US had to again earn that status. He worked as a house painter until he was able to do that.
He helped establish the Monticello-Big Lake (Minnesota) Hospital and Nursing Home, and he served as Medical Director of the nursing home for many years. He was a kind doctor, a rural doctor, trading food and banjo music for his services at times. He was an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota involved in research on the heart. He also did medical transcriptions for other physicians at the U of M as he was fluent in several languages (I think our count was 8?) . He was also an Honorary Staff Physician at the St Cloud Hospital.
His fluency in many languages allowed him to research and translate bibles and other texts, and he secretly was a published poet under a pen name in Belarus. He served as Chairman of the School board for 13 years, there was also the fact that he nearly accompanied the US hockey team to Russia for the Olympics.. The list of his professional accomplishments is huge.
There was a whole other side to him as well. He told horribly cheesy jokes, that he would repeat over and over again laughing so infectiously at himself that you could not help but join in. And he had "Hobbies" for lack of a better word. He sailed, taught us to sail, played chess and earned the title of master chess player. He was a HAM radio operator. He dabbled in electronics, collected, built, repaired radios, cameras, phonographs, and built the family's first television set. Later in life in his 70's and 80's he dissected and repaired Apple computers to send back to those without in Belarus.
This leads me back to my treasure, through out his entire life, there was a camera around his neck or in his hand. He photographed nearly every thing, but some of his favorite subjects were Minnesota landscape, flora, my grandmother (who was beautiful) and people in his life which ranged from us his family to those at the nursing home, to vendors at the flea markets he faithfully attended and supported. Had a dark room in the house where he developed almost all of his own photos too. I am including a self portrait he took with my grandmother here when they first settled in Minnesota and another self portrait from later in his life (looking very stern which was not a natural expression as his smile was huge. I am beyond excited to begin to make my way through the thousands of photos I now have, my treasure.