Nikki's Notebook

My journey as a fiction writer and a place for my projects, writing and otherwise.

A tribute to my famous grandpa.

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Chris and I are headed down to Minneapolis (or “the cities”) as we call it here in Duluth. We’re flying out on Sunday for London, but first we’ll be attending my grandpa’s funeral.

When I was growing up, my grandpa was famous. He had been a band teacher, and then the district music coordinator – known as Mr. Music, so all of my orchestra teachers, and many of my other teachers, knew him. I could name-drop “Bob Mendenhall” to musicians in our community and be gratified with an enthusiastic response. One time, when I was in the pit orchestra for Damn Yankees, Grandpa Bob came to the band room to see if I would need a ride home after the show. The band director’s face lit up and he ushered Grandpa into the room.
“Hey everybody, this is Bob Mendenhall!” he said, and rattled off a list of his accomplishments.
Meekly, I raised my hand and said, “He’s my grandpa.”
I loved having a famous grandpa.
And I was lucky to have such a kind, generous, caring grandpa. What I will always remember is how much our grandpa cared about us. He was always interested in what we were doing, and always wrote encouraging words on birthday cards. He told great stories, too, and amazingly corny jokes. Sometimes I break them out with the kids I work with.
“You know, it’s a good thing they named you Sara.”
“Because that’s what everybody calls you!”
I get the same half-smile response that Grandpa Bob probably got from us when we were the same age.
I will miss you, Grandpa Bob.

The obituary:
Mendenhall, Robert H., 88, “Mr. Music of Robbinsdale”
passed away February 14, 2012. He was preceded in death
by his parents Lilly and George, wife Patricia of 56 years and siblings, Donald, Dorothy, Eugene, Eleanor and Allen. He graduated from North High School and during WWII he served in the Navy as a musician in the Navy Band. He was a high school band director and music coordinator for Robbinsdale Schools from1950-1984. In addition, he directed the Robbinsdale City Band that won top honors for 17 consecutive years in the Aquatennial Torchlight Parade. Bob loved teaching and could recall the names and instruments played by all his students. As a gifted clarinetist and saxophonist he played with many local bands including the Jerry Mayeron Big Band and the ‘Skeets’ Langley trio. He was named the WCCO Good Neighbor in 1968 and 1984 and was awarded the Key to the City after being named ‘Man of the Year’ by the city of Robbinsdale. Bob was devoted to his wife, 4 children, their spouses and 5 grandchildren. He was an inspirational, kind-hearted teacher, husband and father who lifted spirits by his willingness to help others and his readiness with a good joke. He will be forever treasured, loved and missed.


Written by nikkinbird

February 17, 2012 at 11:12 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. This made me cry, so sweet


    February 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm

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