Thursday, May 31, 2012

Grandpa: My Hero, part 2

Yesterday I wrote about my Grandpa's experience fighting in World War II. Here's a little more about his amazing life.

After being discharged from Schick General Hospital in October Grandpa made plans to return to college.  In December he enrolled in Iowa State Teachers College (now renamed University of Northern Iowa) to continue his education in preparation for becoming a teacher.  Many of Grandpa's credits from Luther College were accepted, and by taking 18 or 19 hours for three quarters, Grandpa was able to graduate in August. (Here's Grandpa's college graduation photo:)
Grandpa's first teaching job was in the small town of Hudson, Iowa, about 6 miles south of Cedar Falls.  Grandpa was a homeroom teacher for the seventh grade, a high school physical education teacher, as well as the coach of the boys' baseball and basketball teams.  His salary was $2200 for the nine-month school year.  The following year Grandpa was asked to be the fifth grade teacher because it was such a large class.  The coach who had been serving in the Navy returned, and Grandpa assisted him in coaching sports.  For Grandpa's last year at Hudson, he returned to being the seventh grade homeroom teacher, and he also coached the junior high athletic team.  Grandpa enjoyed his teaching experiences at Hudson very much and remembers the students being very cooperative and friendly.

Grandpa was interested in becoming a principal, and signed a contract in Eldora, Iowa, to be a junior high school principal.  He also helped coach the high school football and basketball teams.  Grandpa spent a lot of time with four of the other new teachers.  Grandpa occasionally dated three of these teachers, but knew that Helen Garlock had many of the characteristics that he wanted in a wife.  She was smart, hard working and neat in appearance.  Grandpa knew that she was the girl for him, and she accepted his proposal one moonlit night when they were parked by Pine Lake.  They were married at the Congregational Church on June 4, 1950.  They stopped in Chicago at the Congress Hotel for the first night of their honeymoon, and the room cost $10.  From there they went to Indiana to visit Grandpa's aunt, Minnie Deaton. (Grandma and Grandpa's wedding photos:) 
Later that summer, Grandpa finished his Master's Degree in elementary education at the Colorado State College of Education in Greeley, Colorado.  (This college has since been renamed the University of Northern Colorado.)  Helen (Grandma) had never been to Colorado before, so she and Grandpa spent many weekends exploring different parts of the state.

In August of 1950 after Grandpa finished his Master's Degree, he and Grandma moved to Rochester, Minnesota, where Grandpa got a job as principal of Hawthorne Elementary School.  There were about 430 students in kindergarten through six grade.  The principal that Grandpa had replaced was very well liked, and the staff and parents hated to see him leave.  As a result, grandpa was not very well received at first, but after a few years he was finally accepted.  In the winter there was always a skating rink on the playground, and Grandpa usually skated with the children and supervised the noon activities.

In October of 1950, Grandma and Grandpa were fortunate enough to buy their first house.  The house was almost new, as the previous owners had lived there only six months.  The address was 720 13th Ave NE, and it cost $12,500.  This house was a story-and-a-half, but the upstairs and the basement were unfinished.  In the next couple of years, Grandpa was able to finish the upstairs and this would've been a nice, big bedroom, but Grandma and Grandpa moved out of this house in 1955.  They sold it for $15,000, so it proved to be a good investment for them as they made a $2500 profit on the house in the five years they lived there.

Grandma and Grandpa welcomed their first child into the world on October 2, 1952.  The baby was a little girl that they named Diane Rae (my mom).  Eighteen months later on April 8, 1954, Grandma and Grandpa had their second child, a boy named Richard K.  Scott Alan, their third child, was born on July 11, 1955. Exactly two years later on July 11, 1957, Grandma and Grandpa had their fourth and final child, another boy that they named Steven Lee. (Here are some pictures of Grandpa's four children; the cute little girl is my mom, Diane:)
Grandpa knew that having four children in such a short period of time was a great deal of work for Grandma, so he tried to be helpful by being responsible for the children when he got home from work in the evenings.  He often gave them their baths and read stories to them at bedtime. (This was the 1950's and 60's, and I think Grandpa was really ahead of his time because at that time most men didn't help with their children to the extent that Grandpa did.)

Grandma and Grandpa built a house and moved in 1955. The address was 1690 7½ Ave NE, and this house was a split level with three finished bedrooms. In 1965, Grandpa finished off the lower level, and the three boys had a big bedroom down there.

Grandma and Grandpa took their family on many vacations when their kids were young.  They started by going to various lake resorts in Minnesota, and as the children grew older, the vacations became educational as well as fun.  In 1965, the Zimmermans went to the New York Worlds Fair and Washington, DC.  In 1968, Grandpa bought a foldout camper because he was taking the family on a six-week trip West.  After working for many continuous summers, Grandpa made traveling a priority that summer. Some of the places they visited were Rocky Mountain National Park and Mesa Verde in Colorado; the Grand Canyon in Arizona; Yosemite, Disneyland and the Golden Gate Bridge in California; Yellowstone in Wyoming; and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.
In 1965, Grandpa had been principal at Hawthorne School for 15 years.  It had been a wonderful learning experience, and he had made many good friends.  The staff helped Grandpa really learn how to be a better principal and he thought almost all of the teachers at Hawthorne were great.  They really helped prepare the students to live a productive life.

At this time, however, Grandpa decided to transfer to a new school that was being built; William P. Gage Elementary School.  Grandpa enjoyed choosing a new staff for the school, as well as ordering new supplies and equipment. This school was located in a cornfield, and it seemed to Grandpa that it was quite a distance from the residential area.  Sometimes when Grandpa went to school in the morning he would see pheasants walking through the fields.  One day Grandpa accidentally hit a pheasant and he had it mounted as a souvenir.  It wasn't long before houses were built all around the school. When Grandpa began as principal of Gage in August of 1965, there were 137 students in the school.  In the three years that Grandpa was principal at Gage, the enrollment grew to 360 students. 

In 1968, the you former principal at Jefferson School left, and Grandpa was asked to replace him.  (This was the same man who Grandpa replaced at Hawthorne in 1950.) Again, Grandpa wasn't very well received at first, but after a couple of years, Grandpa was accepted and loved. Grandpa had a good experience at Jefferson, but he was transferred to Edison School in 1977.  Edison was a primary school (kindergarten through fourth grade) and Grandpa thought it would be fun to finish his career as principal at Edison before retiring.  However, Edison was made into the administrative building for Rochester Public Schools.  As a result, Grandpa was asked to go to Holmes School, where he worked for two years before serving his final year at Folwell School in the 83/84 school year.

I love that Grandpa chose to be a teacher/principal for his profession! He is seriously one of the most gentle, kind and patient men I know, and he truly loved and cared about his students. More to come about my amazing grandpa!


Post a Comment

I love getting feedback on my posts, so please leave me a comment!

If you have a question, feel free to email me at so that I can respond to you directly.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...