Grandpa and me on my wedding day: January 12, 2008

Below is the speech I gave during Grandpa Bob’s memorial on Friday, September 30, 2011.  Grandpa, I hope you’re not too embarrassed!  I love you very much!

Hi, my name is Jessica, and I’ll be speaking on behalf of Jennifer, Jacqueline, and Erin.  Throughout our lives we have been honored to call Robert Latta our grandpa.  A girl needs a positive male role model in her life, and Grandpa was just that for me as well as for my sisters.  Grandpa taught us important life lessons that we will carry with us for years to come, but he did it in a quiet way.  In an “I-don’t-want-to-take-any-credit” kind of way.

I can just imagine Grandpa looking down at all of us…watching us celebrate his life and saying:  “Come on, folks…why are you wasting your time talking about ME?”  That’s just the kind of man he was.  He sought to make a positive impact in everyone’s  life, while at the same time diverted away from the accolades that came with it.  He did not have an ounce of vanity in his body.  Even on his birthdays, when we would come over with cake and presents, we could always see he was a bit uncomfortable being in the spotlight.  During family get-togethers at holidays or special events in the Mitchell household, Grandpa hardly sat in the living room  where he would undoubtedly be the center of attention.  Instead, he preferred to retreat in the kitchen so his grandchildren and other family members could be noticed.  Grandpa Bob showed us that there is beauty in modesty.  You do good things for others not for the recognition, not for the reward…but because it is your moral obligation as a human being.

Grandpa Bob with Baby Jennifer

On the other side of Grandpa’s modesty was his knack for being very blunt and straightforward with his grandkids, which was a much-needed dose of reality for us.  Whenever he saw that we were doing something wrong, he let us know without hesitation…probably because he knew that we were smarter than what we gave ourselves credit for.  Grandpa taught us the importance of communication.  To achieve your goals…to get what you want…you can’t beat around the bush.  You need to be direct with others, you need to express yourself, because that is one of the definite keys to happiness.

Erin, Grandma Lita, Jacque, and Grandpa Bob during Jacque’s 20th Birthday Party

And happiness definitely played a very important role in our grandpa’s life.  He went about each day with the ultimate goal of keeping both himself and his family happy.  And what made our grandpa happy WAS his family.  Happiness was watching Jennifer achieve her goal of becoming a world traveler.  Happiness was watching Jacque become a wonderful mother to Jayda.  Happiness was walking Erin to and from school everyday.  If his granddaughters were happy, then he was happy.

Grandpa helping young Erin with one of her Christmas  presents: an electric guitar

Grandpa also taught us that the definition of family can extend beyond who’s in your family tree.  Over the years he was lovingly called  “Grandpa Bob” by so many others besides his grandkids…including many of the wonderful individuals who are here with us today…and that, for sure, made our grandpa extremely happy.

My sisters and I consider ourselves very lucky because we not only spent our entire lives with Grandpa Bob, but we see a lot of Grandpa’s incredible qualities in the other men in our lives, including our dad and, on a personal note, my husband, Jeremy.  I know that Grandpa will always be with us and will guide us towards our path in life; we will continue to learn from him while he is in a better place and at peace.  So, we’re  not here to say good bye but instead “We love you, Grandpa…and we’ll see you soon”.

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