|My maternal grandfather passed away Christmas morning. Below is his obituary, which was first published in The Arizona Republic today and should be in the Des Moines Register tomorrow morning.|
Gerald (Jerry) Michael Daniels passed away peacefully with his wife of 48 years, Nancy at his side on December 25, 2014. Jerry was born in Runnells, Iowa on June 6, 1936, to Charles Frederick and Violet May Collins Daniels, the youngest of 6 children. After his parents moved to Des Moines, he attended school and graduated from Des Moines Technical High School. He spent 4 years in the Navy and was located mostly at Patuxent River Maryland where he met and married Laurette Ramsey. They had four children, Robert Daniels, Cheryl Butler, Pamela (Eric) Myers, and Randy (Kelli) Daniels. Jerry and Laurie were later divorced. While in the service, he started singing and playing his guitar and was fortunate enough to meet and perform with up and coming artists such as George Jones, Patsy Kline and Jim Reeves. After his service in the Navy, he moved back to Des Moines where he continued singing country western music, something he truly loved. He was a guest on a Marshalltown TV show, on the Bobby Awe TV show in Fort Dodge, IA, and sang on Lee Mace's Ozark Opry. He and his band played for many years at the Golden Spur in Waukee, and they also fronted for Johnny Western, Merle Haggard, and Billy Grammer. He also socialized briefly with such stars as Hank Snow, Little Jimmy Dickens, The Wilburn Brothers and Hank Thompson and was able to visit with the Osborn Brothers at a house gathering. He was a first cousin of the singing star, Judy Collins. Jerry & Nancy loved the Lake of the Ozarks and spent a lot of time there starting in 1977 in their small cabin on the lake, and later on their 44' houseboat. He always had his guitar with him and entertained on many occasions. They were always delighted when they could share their accommodations with family and friends. One summer at the cabin, they taught his children and their friends to water ski - a total of 13 kids. It was a summer of orders shouted and circling the boat to get the rope back. They quit boating in 1998 to buy a motorhome. He worked for the City of Des Moines running heavy equipment for several years and was a salesman for Dewey Ford for 7 years. He retired from City Supply Corp. in Des Moines in 1999 after 22 years as a commercial salesman. He & Nancy were then able to travel extensively around the United States and Canada in their motorhome before settling permanently in Mesa, Arizona where he played golf regularly with a group of men whose company he enjoyed immensely and also golfed weekly with a group from the mobile home park where he lived. Jerry was very active in events at the park for about 7 years until his energy level started to drop. He is survived by his wife, his children, his sister Georgianell Cannon, 9 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren, his daughter Leisa Miller, and stepson Bruce Brassfield. He was preceded in death by his parents, 4 brothers, Stanley, Howard, Charles and Tommy, and stepson, Kenneth Brassfield. He will be cremated and a small memorial service will be held on a date in January to be determined, at the clubhouse of the Cielo Grande Mobile Home Park at 9501 E Broadway Rd in Mesa. A light lunch will be served. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that you perform a kind act of service in his name. His children are planning a memorial in Des Moines in June.I don't want to speak on anyone else's behalf, so forgive the self-indulgence here of only explaining what this man meant to me. My mom and I would go over to his and my grandma's house on a pretty regular basis until they started traveling towards the end of the 90's. He was always completely welcoming, quick with a big smile and a hug for his grandkids, had a loud, strong, infectious laugh that I can hear as I type this, and always seemed interested in what was going on in my life. He was a fun guy to be around; I think that would've been the case whether he was my grandfather or not.
Anna and I largely met and got to know each other clear back in middle school because we ran in the same circle of friends, all fellow band members. I'm sure I could probably find other relatives with a musical background of some sort, but none as well-rooted as my grandpa Daniels'. It's hard to imagine that without those genes in place that I would've gone into band and, without that simple yet fateful decision on my part, it's easy to see how the dominoes would've fallen in a starkly different manner.
For example, I'm typing this up on my laptop in my living room. I'm surrounded by evidence of my current reality, of having 4 pre-teen kids: freshly-opened toys around, some that have been properly put away, some not, others in use right now; six monogrammed stockings hung back up out of the way after their one day in the limelight; a Christmas tree carefully adorned with ornaments hand-made by each of our four kids, some with pictures that essentially allow you to watch them grow up; a large sectional only recently purchased, which allowed all six of us to sit with each other as we opened gifts for the first time; and lastly a house that Anna were lucky enough to be able (and had) to get at only 23 years of age. It occurs to me that without those musical gifts that he unknowingly passed along, without me starting in band, without me meeting, getting to know, and ultimately falling in love with Anna, it's unlikely that any of my surroundings would be the same. That's a humbling thing to consider.
To you, grandpa, I can only say, thank you for sharing. I couldn't have asked for anything better.