I returned from Chicago yesterday, after attending the funeral of my beloved grandfather Robert James Bonner. He was 78 when he died, lived a full life, and was the most kindest and selfless man I knew. I regret that I didn't speak to him more after I "grew up" and left my parents home, I only saw him after that when they came to visit or the odd chance that I went with my parents to visit family in Chicago (I live in Milwaukee, WI, about 90mi away). The last time I spoke to him was Christmas Eve, 2002.
My grandfather was a fountain of knowledge, a true Renaissance Man, and he excelled at any subject he took up. He was a teacher (professionally), and he always seemed to excite you to learn from him, even when just talking to him about everyday things. He was what I call a "Black Thinker", an African-American aware of the social ills plaguing our people, and always willing to come up with solutions (he preferred to teach underprivileged black children).
He was also an artist, dabbling in several styles of painting, drawing, sketching, and calligraphy. I'm looking forward to go back with my family next week to pick up a few pieces of his artwork.
He was a World War II veteran, having served as a Radio Man in the US Navy.
I was very moved to see him laying there in his coffin yesterday, to me he was the perfect grandfather (I was his first grandchild), always giving and never complaining. He never "put on airs", and never belittled you with his knowledge or wisdom. I will always hold a good memory of my grandfather, because he was a significant part of my life.