Paying my respects

My paternal grandfather died a few years before I was born, and as a result I never got to meet him. But something he did in his lifetime benefited me immensely. He served in World War I, which was one of the few things I ever got to learn about him, and is the only military service I’ve been able to find in my family history.

My grandfather’s service in World War I qualified my father, and therefore me, for participation is a scholarship foundation established by LaVerne Noyes. Noyes died in 1919, but before he did he established a foundation with $2.5 million, which included the sale of his home on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.

The foundation’s money was earmarked for the direct biological descendants of World War I veterans, as a token of his gratuitude for their service. Not every school has this scholarship available, but luckily enough for me it was offered at Northwestern. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to afford to go to school there. My grandfather’s service, and LaVerne Noyes’ scholarships, have had a direct influence on my life.

I recently learned that LaVerne Noyes is buried in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago. I found myself in the general vicinity of Graceland yesterday, so I went to his gravesite to commemorate the impact his generosity has had on my life.

Graceland has a lake in the middle of it, and I once lived in a condo that looked out over it. I would tell people I had “a lake view” because they are very prized in Chicago, but I would never specify exactly which lake it was. I found LaVerne Noyes’ gravesite near the lake, and the picture above gives some sense of how peaceful of a scene it is.

I thought about where I might be and what I might be doing had I not gone to Northwestern. Since it was the place where I met my future wife, it’s entirely reasonable to think that my children would not be alive today without that. I love living in Chicago, and I might have loved any other place I lived in just as much, but going to school nearby made living in Chicago that much more likely to happen.

I thanked Mr. Noyes for his assistance in paying for school, and I wanted to leave a penny on his grave as a sign of respect, but the smallest coin I had with me was a nickel. It’s the same as five pennies, I reasoned, and so I left that behind instead, along with my gratitude for what he had done for me. And, come to think of it, my children will be off to college someday soon, so maybe they’ll benefit from his scholarship fund, too. If that happens, I’ll need to leave more than a nickel next time.

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