For everything under the sun, there is an appointed season:|
A time to be born, to grow up, marry, to have family.
There is a time for sharing, a time for caring;
a time for loving, a time for giving;
a time for parting and now a time for remembering.
There is a time to be born. Gordon McLin was born October 10, 1910, east of Delia, Kansas, the son of James Grant and Georgia Ann Huaha McLin. He went to school in a little school house, that now sits at the Kansas State Historical Society Museum as a remembrance of a time long ago. He went to Silver Lake High School and then took some courses at Stricklers Business College, perhaps thinking it would help with a job with the Union Pacific railway company; but after a few courses, he decided upon the life of a farmer.
He met and fell in love with Mary Mongold who he enjoyed watching play basketball at Silver Lake. It was hard to tell whether or not Gordon went to watch the game, or Mary in particular! Mary helped Gordon's mother and therefore, even though she was five years younger, knew him casually. The relationship got serious enough for Gordon to ask Mary to wed with him. She said yes and they took off for Beatty, Kansas, just down the road from Silver Lake, and were married on October 31, 1937 by a lady Justice of the Peace who had broken her leg and performed the ceremony from her bed! That marriage was to last 61 years.
In those days, friends did what they called a "shiveree" to celebrate a marriage. I am not too sure what that was, but it seemed to be a thing people wanted to avoid! Well, Mary caught on real fast that Gordon was a practical jokester, and being a fun-loving girl herself, participated in some of the jokester stuff with him -- and that included a joke on those friends who were trying to have fun with them at the time of their marriage.
Gordon charged the fence with electricity, for starters, so that when the friends came over to "do them dirty" they received the shock of their lives from the gate and connecting fence! The marriage date being on Hallowe'en, Mary offered the now curly-haired pranksters some candy to make it up to them. Only problem was, the candy was laced with hot peppers!
Nor did Gordon and Mary stop there. Since it was in the fall season, a fire was good to have in the evening. The WPA [Works Progress Administration] boys, who were working nearby and who had tried to celebrate the marriage but were shocked and peppered for their efforts, went to the house they were building and tried to light a fire. They found that Gordon and Mary had stuffed the chimney so it wouldn't draw, and the fire never got started. It was hard to tell who was on the receiving end of that shivaree!
Gordon worked in Topeka for a while at the Union Pacific Railroad Company, and ran a roller skating rink for a short time. He and Mary also operated the Grove Country Store from 1948 - 1963, and the IGA store at Delia from 1963 - 1968. And he worked for Grove Township, in addition to farming.
He was a member of the Silver Lake Methodist Church, the Delia Lions Club, and Grove Harvest Grange. Two years after Mary and Gordon were married, a son, Marshall, came along. Marshall helped his dad with some farming and enjoyed having his father watch him play baseball. Marshall was a model child -- who did stray once in a while. He remembers pushing his dad's "hot button" when he and a friend wanted to go fishing and needed sinkers for their fishing lines.
A metal building meant to house hogs was put together with lead-headed nails. It just so happens that these nail-heads would do right well for excellent sinkers in a pinch. Such a building was just to hand, so Marshall and his friend took the lead off the nails for the weights needed. To say the least, his dad was not happy! He had a way of disciplining his son that Marshall has never forgotten. Gordon would thump him on the head. A single thump seemed to get the job done, at least until the next thump was due!
Marshall married a fine woman also named Mary, who was dubbed "Mary Jr." by Gordon so the confusion of two "Mary"s wouldn't get in the way. Marshall and Mary had two children, Denise and Michael. They were the apples of Gordon's eye and he loved them as dearly as they loved him. Denise enjoyed playing the organ for him, letting him sing many of the good old songs of years gone by like "Amazing Grace," "In the Garden" and "How Great Thou Art." (Gordon also loved Eddie Arnold and his "Don't Make My World Go Away," and sang in the Old Walnut Hill Church choir. When that church was closed and torn down, Gordon's heart remained there. It meant so much to him.) Michael remembers riding a road grader with Gordon when Gordon worked for Grove Township, and his grandfather coming to watch him play ball for Silver Lake High School.
Gordon loved his children and grandchildren, and then great-grandchildren came along: Shaley (five years old) and Shelbie (two years old). Those two had Great-Grandpa wound right around their little fingers, a fact he would cheerfully admit to. Days when those two little girls came to visit were always extra special to Gordon.
Gordon was a person who really enjoyed life, and did that for 87 years! He was a curious person, always wanting to find out what made something tick. He loved finance and followed the Stock Market religiously. His word to the wise was "Buy utilities." Don't put your money in tires and rubber, son, he would say, meaning Goodyear. He always knew when to buy and sell. He was also a letter-perfect crossword-puzzle solver.
Gordon was a self-made man who spoke, and you needed to listen, or he would say, "Answer me when I speak to you!" He was gentle but a bit crusty and gruff on first impressions; and he was a worrier, particularly when his family was going somewhere. He died peacefully on Wednesday, July 22, 1998, at about five o'clock in the morning. His grand-daughter Denise was by his side at the hospital most of the night, as were Marshall, Marshall's wife Mary, and Michael, and others who loved him.
We face the dawn of a new millennium in two years. The kind of world that we will pass on to that new age will depend on what we do today. So what will we pass along . . . that is of lasting consequence? I want to suggest that our true heritage and influence will be what is passed along as it is expressed in the lives of people. Our life matters most by how people are affected by how we live. In fact, the people whose lives we touch are what make our lives matter. Look at each other here, as we surround Gordon as family and friends. See the love we have and share? This is what life is all about. In this way, our influence is far more lasting than public acclaim, and far more secure than financial inheritance.
--Adapted from a memorial given by the Reverend Paul
B. Mitchell at the funeral service of Gordon McLin,
who surely showed us the truth of what life is all about.