I have nine key guys in my life. Nine guys that make up my own little army.
One dad, two brothers, two grandpas, and four uncles.
I’ve known these guys my whole life. It’s an understatement to say they’ve made me who I am today. Each of them make my world spin. Each of them have taught me different things.
My Dad has taught me how to lead and how to lead effectively. My Grandpas how to work hard. My uncles to have fun and enjoy life. My brothers to keep my head up, not letting what others say get to me.
But one man in particular taught me so many things without me realizing it.
He’s the Tenth guy missing from my army of nine.
Gary Wimmer was like another Grandpa to me. Both of my Grandpas are top-notch, and Gary was right up there with them.
Gary taught me many things, but the most prevalent was to encourage those around me. He showed me the importance of an old-fashioned slap on the back after a hard-fought game. When he said those four magic words, “I’m proud of you,” you knew he wasn’t saying it lightly. His encouragement of what you did well, coupled by suggestions for the future were famous to his name.
This was mostly common for my brothers, dad, and uncles, but he never failed to do the same for me after a musical, game I had cheered at, or each time after I had sang the National Anthem. It didn’t matter if he knew my toe-touch was off-centered, the slap on the back was coming after the game. And I knew it.
Everyone did. Gary may have been a wrestler and football player at heart, but he was everyone’s cheerleader. He encouraged you, even when you didn’t believe you deserved it. And he loved every second of watching and cheering you on.
But one year ago, God decided Gary needed a better seat to cheer from. A seat where he could see everything at once – his grandkids in Denver and Austin, my brothers and cousins in Creston, and me, at Simpson College – one of his favorite places.
Simpson reminds me of Gary due to one conversation I had with him before I had even submitted my deposit during my senior year of high school. Just mentioning the possibility of going to Simpson College and cheering for the football team made him already start planning trips to the Saturday afternoon football games… and I hadn’t even committed to going to Simpson!
When I eventually did, I knew he would be excited and want to come to a game. Well, now he’s at every game.
I think I can speak for everyone when I say we miss him dearly on Earth. And while he sees that, he doesn’t want to be down here with us! He’s with His Savior – my Savior – waiting for us to come to him.
So my army of nine is really an army of ten, with the most important soldier looking out for me from a different angle.
And while we miss his signature walk as he would make his way over to pat you on the back while saying “I’m proud of you,” we know we will see him again. We are thankful for the hope we have in our God that one day, we’ll hear those famous four words again.
But for now, I know he’s watching over me at the Simpson football games… okay, he’s watching the football game. We all know it, but he always made time to watch me and I’m sure he still does!
Gary Wimmer, you were taken too soon from our standpoint, but we know God had bigger and better plans. We relish in the memories you have left us, the advice you have given, and the encouragement we have received.
Until we meet again.