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Death Pays a Visit

How sad it is that it often takes the death of someone close to you to allow you realize just how much that person meant to you. Only in their absence does your heart really bring your head around. In this case, I knew I respected, admired, and enjoyed the company of this man, what I didn't know is that I also loved him. In that non-judgmental, fully accepting, appreciating, and emotionally linking way. No regrets though, I made the effort to stay in touch, and to stop by for a visit even when we moved far away. Here is the tribute I wrote for him that was read at his Funeral Service on August 25, 2015:

Glenn E. "Junior" McCartney

I first met Glenn E. McCartney in 1980 when I moved to Grafton and needed a place to stay. In all the 35 years I would know him, I never did know what that “E” stood for. It really didn’t matter because most everyone referred to him as Junior McCartney. Most everyone except his kids who called him Dad, and his loving wife Charlotte who called him JR.

I pulled into the Thornton Motel and there was Junior waiting for me with the keys to my apartment. He took one look at that twenty-five foot long U-Haul box truck and said, “You’re gonna need some help unloading that.” Of course I agreed and it was the start of a long friendship. And mentorship. I may have had all the degrees, but when it came to practical knowledge, Junior was the master. He showed me how to use a belt sander on an oak table we still use as our kitchen table. Well, I should say he tried to show me. After I gouged the surface he just smiled, shook his head, and said, “You better let me do it.” He showed me how to fix the brakes on my Ford Torino, how to line up a transmission for my 1948 Chevy Pickup, how to repair the ceiling on our 1948 Alma camping trailer, how to build a deck on our lot up at the Taylor County Boat Club, how to dig a trench with his ditch witch on our property on Mt. Storm Lake. And that’s just what I can remember.

The last time I worked with Junior it was to install a box drain and garage door on our garage on 119 north of town. After spending twenty useless minutes beating on the concrete trough I built to keep water out of the garage, we both decided we were not only getting too old for pick and shovel work, we were too old. The jack hammer on his Bobcat finished the job for us. Junior came to my rescue once again. We installed the new garage door, closed it, gave the handle a turn to activate the locking mechanism and heard the tinkle of metal as the cables fell onto the garage floor inside, while we stood outside. Locked out with no way in. “Better to break one pane of glass than tear up this new garage door,” he suggested. So we busted out a window, a small pane about 10 x 12 inches. I stuck one leg in but for the life of me could not get the rest of my 6 foot 210 pound frame inside. “Here, let me try,” he said, and slipped right through. Saved again.

Junior was there when I married my wife Coletta, and he was there when we drank strawberry daquiri’s on the dock at the boat club, it wasn’t all work, we had great fun together. We made an odd couple, me from New York, he from West Virginia, but I could always make him laugh, and he could make me laugh as well. He was always the gentleman and you never saw him with a hair out of place or dirty or wrinkled clothes. He was a handsome woman’s man as well as a man’s man.

I last saw Junior earlier this month when we were in town for the Park View reunion. We stopped by his house and Charlotte invited us all in. I pulled a chair next to him and we talked for a while, then stood up to leave. We shook hands then wrapped our arms around each other for one last hug. He whispered in my ear, “I really miss you old buddy” and it was one of those special moments in your life when you realize what your friendship really means. So today I have to say goodbye to my buddy, my friend Junior McCartney. “I’m gonna really miss you old buddy.”

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