United States Marine Corp. / World War II

Immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, my father enlisted in the Marines. He said he wanted to be a Marine because they were “The Best!” He was assigned to the South Pacific and was a navigator. Unfortunately, my father was very reluctant to share stories or experiences of his years in the service. Later, we learned that this is not uncommon for many miliary personnel. Our family is so proud of him and his dedication and love for our country. He died this past year at the remarkable age of 90. We will always be grateful to the Honor Guard that came to the funeral and the cemetary. This was truly a fitting tribute to one who belonged to “The Greatest Generation!”

Below are some thoughts and tributes that were shared at his funeral – September 2011.

Tribute to Howard J. Grenell
When we hear the word “One of the Good Guys”…most of us would immediately think of the movies and characters portrayed by actors like: John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart… Harrison Ford.

But when I hear the words: One of the Good Guys….I immediately think of one person. MY Father. In all honesy, my dad was truly “One of the Good Guys.”

In fact…my brother would often have conversations with my father stating : Dad, if you do not go to heaven…there is no hope for the rest of us!

Not only was my father one of the good Guys…he was a man who never , ever complained. Even though he had his share of aches and pains these last few years. He always saw the glass half full and was for ever the optimist. Even during our recent conversation regarding the upcoming football season and the Cleveland Browns. My father would simply say…, “ Sally, there is always a chance for a miracle.” My father always a kind word for everyone, enjoyed the simple things in life: flowers in his garden, a beautiful sunset, music, concerts, movies, reading, and a great homemade pie!

Our dad chose to serve and help others when he became a social worker. I remember my mother telling me that when they were first married…my father told her that he would never make a lot of money…but he would never ever lack for a job. And he was right…. He flunked retirement 3 times! When the call went out for help…my father answered it. That’s what good guys do.

There were 2 things very important to my father….His faith and family. My father was a very religious and devoted man. Every morning, he would begin the day with his devotions and prayers and saying the rosery. Three years ago, when he realized that he could no longer drive…his only concern was how would he get to church. After a few phone calls, Pete McCormick and his wife, Mary , were an answer to those prayers. They faithfull drove my father to mass several times a week to make sure that his wish would be fulfilled.

And of course, My father was truly a devoted family man. He enjoyed all family gatherings and celebrations. He always wanted to be there…even if it meant he just sat in the background and listened to the rest of us ramble on. In July, we celebrated his 90th birthday. The whole family gathered together for the weekend. We all knew that this was one of his goals…to make it to his 90th birthday . He outlived all his relatives. His only comment was: I just don’t understand what all the fuss is about? He was humble and modest…. Just like your typical good guy.

He taught us lessons from the heart. For example, when I was 16 I failed my drivers test… I was very upset. He looked at me and said, I am glad you did not pass. “Sally, in life you have to learn to accept disappointment. And if you can…you will beable to survive and handle anything that comes your way.” How true. I have never forgotten those words. …… That was so typical of my father. He taught us many lessons : Patience, kindness, acceptance, perseverance, gratitude, and always, always maintain your sense of humor. And even during his last few days on earth….he taught us one final lesson.. When it is all said and done, and your time has come, you joyfully and willingly ride off into the sun set…because that’s what Good Guys do.