We lost our Dad this week. He was a very good man.
We learned two years ago that congestive heart failure would take its toll. The end came early in the morning on March 18 as Dad rested comfortably at Israel Family Hospice House in Ames.
Dad was 93 and at peace with himself. We are grateful to the Israel Family Hospice staff and its incredible staff of caretakers.
Leslie George Ryerson and his twin brother, Lawrence, were born June 5, 1915 to Oscar and Liza Ryerson on the family homestead four miles north and west of Cambridge. Dad and Lawrence began school in Kelley, then graduated with the class of 1933 from Huxley High School.
Dad was a rental farmer, moving the family from farm to farm as he sought better opportunities.
He had a sixth sense for the needs of livestock and took great care of the dairy cows, hogs and chickens we raised to supplement income from our half of the field crops. His enjoyment of animals was equaled by his love of the fall harvest. Well into his 90th year he continued to drive Jerry's combine, with his dog Cecil at his side in the "banker's" seat.
Dad married Lois Arlene Breckenridge on Dec. 7, 1940. He and Mom were deeply religious but didn't wear it on their sleeves. They were active participants in several Lutheran communities and since their retirement they attended St. Andrews Lutheran Church in Ames.
For many years we feared Dad would not adapt well if he outlived Mom. Though our loss was heavy when she died six years ago in January, Dad nonetheless continued a full life. He enjoyed fishing trips with Jerry, regular visits with family and friends, and Iowa State women's basketball. He was a fastidious housekeeper who would not tolerate a speck of dirt even in the basement.
Always the farmer, he would lose sleep long into retirement if storms or lowland flooding threatened the crops of others. That also was an indication of his extraordinary concern for people other than himself.
Dad was wealthy in ways much more meaningful than money.
He had a wealth of respect for others and a wealth of faith expressed not so much by words but by actions and regular church attendance. He had a wealth of personal strength, accepting what was handed him until the very end.
He possessed a wealth of courtesies, never ceasing to thank those who helped him and always insisting that people take care of themselves before turning their attentions to him. His greatest wish was for people to get along with each other.
Dad was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, Lois, his twin brother, Lawrence and by the other brothers Ted, Donald Eide, Obert and Rinard Alfred. Survivors include his wise and loving younger sister, Edith Wessel, and her husband Bob.
We are his children: Norma Ness of Ames; Jerry and his wife Carol, also of Ames; Dean, of Madison, Wisconsin; Dennis, of Indianapolis: and Astrid Smith and her husband Bruce, of Monticello. Also surviving are nine grandchildren, nine great grandchildren, four step-grandchildren and many, many friends.
Funeral services were held Saturday at St. Andrews Lutheran Church in Ames followed by lunch at the church, then burial in Cambridge Cemetery. We request that in lieu of flowers memorials be given to St. Andrews Lutheran Church or to Israel Family Hospice House.
We ask that Dad's concern for others, his deep faith, and his desire that we act based on our similarities rather than our differences are shared by all.
Published in Tri-County Times from Mar. 26 to Apr. 2, 2009.