is older than it's ever been and now it's even older


Jerry Stiffler, 1940?-2000

Jerry Stiffler, my father-in-law, died Saturday suddenly at his home. In an age dominated by cynicism, insincerity, dishonesty and meanness, he was none of those things. In fact, he was without a doubt the nicest man I've ever known. I don't have a single memory in seven years of knowing him of a mean thing he ever said or did. His compassion was incredible, and his devotion to his family is something that I will strive to emulate every day from now on.

Last January, Jerry and I went to a Vikings game just after Maggie and I had announced our wedding date. He was happy -- no, he was jubilant. After the game, he shook my hand and said, "Welcome to the family." This conversation was some time removed from Mag and I telling him about the wedding, so I said, "Wow. Vikings games are a family initiation?" He just laughed hard and reminded me about the marriage. What a funny guy. I have so many great memories of him. I can still picture him in my head so vividly. It just really seems unreal. Two years ago we all went to Germany. It had been a dream of his to take his family to Europe for some time. He had such a great time and was consistently happy the entire trip, which is more than I can say for everyone else on it, but he held everything together by his faithfulness and youthful enthusiasm for living. Two days ago he pulled the car from where it broke down by the side of the road. That was the sort of thing he did for us it seemed on a daily basis, fixing things that broke, helping me put the Christmas lights up on the house, anything we ever asked him to do. The night before he died we went to the Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter restaurant and celebrated Krista's birthday. I'll always remember him the way he was that night -- happy as always, and drinking the same type of beer as me (Paulaner dark Hefeweizen).

Jerrry will be buried Wednesday at the Old Salem Shrine in Inver Grove Heights, where Maggie and I were married just over a month ago. I'll never forget the look on his face as he led her down the aisle. I'm really going to miss him.


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