As I leave Nebraska and make my way back south for the short term, I wave goodbye to the tall and mixedgrass prairies, goodbye to the sunsets and thunderstorms of the Great Plains, and goodbye to the coming fall, whose soul-stirring winds are carried in on roving, sweeping fronts from the north. Here is to hoping Nebraska’s prairies can be returned to their glory, in whatever amount of acreage possible, for they are perennial and can stand the test of time and weather the storms of the unmapped future. The rest of the Great Plains should take notice of what companies like Prairie Plains Resource Institute are doing, for they do it well.
As I cross the Red River into Texas in the next couple of days, I will say my last goodbye to my grandfather, Roy D. Sanders Jr. For the last 28 years of my life I have had him five doors down the street, had him take my brother and I on road trips and camping trips, had him at every Thanksgiving feast – even the ones that were nearly standing room only. My brother and I had a classic American grandfather and grandson relationship.
I have many cherished and fond memories of my grandfather and he was one of the last truly great men. A man who kept his word and kept an open mind, a man whose handshake was firm and meant something, a man who survived The Dust Bowl, and in August of 1942, joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and had a career that spanned through the Korean Conflict with several additional years of reserve status, before he was eventually and honorably discharged as a Lieutenant Colonel. He also had a successful architectural career in Bowie, Texas, where he designed many of the commercial buildings, including the high school that my brother and I, mom, dad, aunt, and uncle attended over the years, along with many mid-century modern houses in town. He was one of the last of the true gentlemen in this ever-changing and uncertain world, and now, time is no longer a friend to him.
I have learned very much from him and will miss him dearly, especially his famous phrase as he answered the door, “Come right on in pal! Sit thee down and tell me what’s going on in the world!” And I can honestly say, had he kept some family land and had I gotten into prairie restoration earlier in my life, no doubt we would have worked on restoring that family land together.
And we would have drank some Heineken, too.
“We come and go, but the land is always here. And the people who love it and understand it are the people who own it – for a little while.” – Willa Cather
Roy D. Sanders Jr. passed away at 2:18p.m. on Tuesday, September 24th, 2013 at the age of 90. His obituary can be read here.