Theodore Roosevelt Dexter

by Lisa Williams from Wauseon

 (Ted as a young man)
(Ted as a young man)

My Hero

Theodore Roosevelt Dexter

 

 

"True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.
It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,
but the urge to serve others at whatever cost...." Arthur Ashe.

 (Grandpa in his workshop. (photo by Mark Eagan))
(Grandpa in his workshop. (photo by Mark Eagan))

He was kind and gentle, funny and patient. He was an adventurer who was fearless and courageous. He was a compassionate and hard working man who always had time for me. I would like to be more like him. He is my hero and he is my grandfather.

 (Our Daredevil)
(Our Daredevil)

My earliest memories of Theodore Roosevelt Dexter are memories of going exploring with him, my brother and my dad. He lived in Las Vegas, Nevada, so there were plenty of deserts to explore. He would let me sit on his lap in his jeep and while he controlled the pedals, I would steer! I remember being thrilled and scared to death all at the same time. I remember on one adventure, we came upon a huge crater in the sandy desert road. My grandfather and my dad discussed what we should do. I heard my grandfather suggest that we put the jeep in four-wheel-drive and navigate through it! It was very steep and I recall heart-pounding fear coursing through my veins. I pleaded for turning around, but the decision was made to drive on. I thought they all must be crazy. I refused to ride in the jeep if they went down that insanely steep hill! From there, the details get a bit fuzzy, but I do remember the outcome. They drove down the steep hill and I walked!

 (Grandpa and I on one of our many adventures.)
(Grandpa and I on one of our many adventures.)

No explanation of "Ted" would be complete without mentioning his story telling. He told stories about real-life adventures that he had lived and he told the same ones over and over. Some of his stories sounded pretty far-fetched, so we used to question their validity. He would adamantly profess that they were all true! We never tired of hearing his stories, in fact, when we knew a story was coming, my grandmother would object by saying, "You're not going to tell that one again!" While she objected, we encouraged him all the more and he would always end up telling it. He would laugh, probably amused by the story, but surely, also by the moment; his wife, children, and grandchildren all together laughing and loving each other. I miss him, I miss his stories, and I miss mostly those moments from so long ago that held his magical spark, our innocence, contentment and love.

 (The Master Carpenter. (Photo by Mark Eagan))
(The Master Carpenter. (Photo by Mark Eagan))

As an adult now, looking back, I am sure that I will never fully comprehend the depth of his influence on me. He was a living example of a man of quality and character in so many ways. He would come home after a long day of carpentry and would insert himself into my brother's and my playing by jumping onto one of our bicycles and speeding away! We would run after him and surely the event would end in laughter and hugs. We played on tire swings and trolleys he had created. Of most importance, I think, was my sense that he loved us deeply and always had time for us.

 

 

Toward the end of my high school years and throughout young adulthood, my grandfather taught me one of the most important lessons of all, a lesson of love and commitment. My grandmother had Alzheimer's disease and my grandfather never questioned his commitment to her. He had some help, but he would feed her and bathe her when she was no longer able to do these things for herself. He took her for walks and our neighbors recall seeing them walking together and hearing my grandfather sing. He cared for her at home for many years until she died.

 

 

There are so many stories to tell about Theodore, but I will close with one final account. My first love was music, specifically singing. We sang as a family in church, and while singing, I experienced a feeling like nothing else. I sang my first solo when I was nine years old. Throughout my life, I sensed that my Grandpa was proud of me. As an adult, I had the opportunity to record a CD of original music. He was so excited and asked daily about the progress of the project while we were in the studio. When he found out that we were over-budget, he gave me $1,000. His generous spirit was also one of the characteristics that defined him. After the CD was finished, he sat in his recliner and I knelt beside the arm of his chair. I told him stories about the recording process and of my interaction with the musicians. With each new story, tears rolled down his cheeks. His sweet gentle eyes communicated his pride and love for me.

 

Life is filled with so many things; pleasures and challenges. But one of life's greatest gifts is the gift of unconditional love. My grandfather modeled it and gave it. I was truly blessed by receiving it.

 

Page created on 6/19/2012 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 1/5/2017 11:22:32 PM

Related Links

The MY HERO Project - For Lisa's musical tribute to her grandpa, Theodore Roosevelt Dexter.

Extra Info

A special thanks to my brother, Mark Eagan for his superb photography and for allowing me to use his pictures of our Grandfather here. Also thanks to my Mom, Barbara Clark for supplying additional photographs.