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Oral History

Our Testimonials

Each time a story is told, it breathes life into our culture as well as cultivates our verbal language. Our oral stories are extremely important to our people, with it being the number one way our people communicated their stories and shed light on our tribal communities rich history!


On behalf of VTEC, we would like to thank everyone who has participated and facilitated these interviews/testimonials!

Ray Adams Oral Tribal Story InterviewJune 24, 2020

Interviewer: Deborah Wilkinson, UMIT Representative, VTEC Board Member


Ray was born in Sweet Hall, VA (near West Point) and lived there with his family until the age of 4. His mother was Manie Adams, daughter of Jasper and Molly Adams. His father was James Adams, son of another Molly Adams. He received his education in Philadelphia PA graduating from high school, then took vocational training as a printer pressman. Ray returned to VA in his 40’s where he started his own printing business, First American Printing Co. Ray was elected Assistant Chief in the 1980’s then served as Chief from 1987 to 1992. Appointed to serve on the counsel of Virginia Counsel of Indians (VCI) and United Indians of Virginia (UIV).


· Who is your tradition bearer, or who and how did they teach you the most about your tribal community? Mother, Manie Adams was instrumental to the tribe receiving State recognition. She worked along with another tribal citizen, Al Tupponce, driving state recognition for the tribe. Ray recalls he began getting more involved in tribal business during his late 40’s at the request of his mother. Traveled every weekend for 18 months from Ohio to VA to visit his mother who later died of terminal cancer.

· Describe the place of your community, where you grew up. What was it like? How has it changed over the years? What brought about these changes?

As a child his family would visit family and attend tribal events frequently, especially homecoming. The Church was the foundation of the tribe and homecoming always brought everyone back together. Although Ray and his family would visit more frequently than just homecoming, they also attended tribal functions and visited during the summer. The most fondest memory was the sense of family, the love that was shared, and never made to feel like an visitor.  Many of the tribal members who still lived in KW were very poor. There weren’t a lot of jobs and the lack of education made it difficult on the families. Families either moved or sent their kids away for better education. Families settled in other areas near each other to build a support system. Philadelphia provided more activities and better education and there wasn’t as much racism towards Native Americans (there was some, but not as prevalent as in King William, aka KW). The tribal citizens in KW didn’t have those same activities, or weren’t allowed to participate, and didn’t have money for activities. Parents continued to emphasize the importance of education to where many of today’s tribal citizens have high education and are very successful. Although they are not connected or involved in tribal matters because they didn’t live in the area.  Helen Hill, a teacher at Sharon Indian School, was very passionate about helping the children within the tribal community get the best education they could.


· What are your fondest memories about growing up in your tribal community? Homecoming, visiting family and grandparents, Jasper and Molly. Family loved him and he loved them.

· Are there any unpleasant memories about growing up in your tribal community? Every family was poor and most were not well educated. The mistreatment of the tribal citizens of other(s) and other groups in the community. Mistreatment of the youth who were placed in boarding schools. Horrific stories to where those who experienced them, will not talk about them to this day. The lack of resources and the negative impacts that had on the tribal community.

· Might you share a treasured/impactful tribal/ancestry related story passed down to you.  N/A

· What community traditions were honored?

Pow Wow started 32 years ago and the Church (homecoming) holds the people together. Church funding started with $18, mostly built on faith.


· How have these traditions changed or developed over time? Do the traditional celebrations exist today?

When the Intertribal Pow Wows first started, the dancers, drummers and the MC were all volunteers. No one was being paid to participate. People participated because it was something they were passionate about and the love that was shared for their culture. Today, it has become too commercialized, dancers, drummers and the MC are paid to perform.

· What do you think is the future of these traditions? What are the challenges and opportunities? Are others learning and practicing the tradition?

Pow Wows are becoming larger, not as profitable because of having to pay for dancers, drummers and the MC. People danced and drummed because it was in their heart. The money changes the dynamic or the reasoning behind the purpose of the Pow Wow. In the past, Native Americans history and culture were not accepted, whereas today non-natives are more interested in their history and culture. 

· What memories describe your schooling? Good student, attended public school in Philadelphia. Experienced some racism as he would make friends however, their parents wouldn’t always approve. 


· What historical events have impacted you and your community?

1919: The tribe built Sharon Indian School. The School closed in 1964, then KW county used it for a gov’t office.

1983: UMIT Received State recognition

1987: KW County returned the Sharon Indian School building back to the tribe.

1987: The tribe purchased 32 acres of land used today as the tribal grounds.

1988: First Tribal Pow Wow on the grounds by Sharon Indian School

Connie Adams Lovelace’s Oral Tribal Story Interview June 17, 2020

Interviewer: Lou Wratchford, UMIT Representative, VTEC Board Member


On Tuesday, June 17, 2020 I had the privilege of interviewing Connie Lovelace as a part of the Virginia Tribal Education Board’s initial attempt at gathering the Oral History of VTEC Member Tribes’ citizens.  What an awesome honor and responsibility.  It is my hope that as we move forward, we can encourage other tribal citizens to collaborate with VTEC in solidifying our tribal histories in written form for future generations.


Connie Adams Lovelace’s Oral Tribal Story


Connie Lovelace is the daughter of Arthur and Rose Adams; she is the granddaughter of Molly Adams, Norman ‘Push’ and Minnie Adams, and the great-granddaughter of Cleveland ‘Clip’ and Jane Adams. She is the sister of the current Upper Mattaponi Chief, Frank Adams. In addition, she is also my ‘double’ cousin. Her great-grandfather Cleveland "Clip" Adams and my grandfather (former Chief Jab Adams) were half-brothers and her great-grandmother, Jane Adams and my grandmother, Mollie Adams, were sisters.  Therefore, she and I have a lot of the same relatives.


As we talked, Connie’s cherished memories of her father and mother came through, sometimes invoking strong emotions.  She remembered her father making things like corncob pipes and flutes using cornstalks and other available items.  Her mother, Rose, had limited educational opportunities growing up; she was a strong advocate of education for her children, insisting her children make good grades in school.  She taught her children and other community children about all the things available for survival, especially the items that could be used for food.   Connie’s mother was always visiting, giving and being helpful to others. She always shared what she had. She was a wonderful cook, making biscuits every day; she would leave her finger indentations in the biscuits.  We always grew most of our food in order to survive. 


Several of her aunts and uncles left King William for Philadelphia, PA for better job and school opportunities; but they always retained a strong family connection.  Many of them returned to Virginia during summer vacations; they seemed to always want to stay with her family in their small house. She remembers during her early childhood (before they had running water in their home) her young cousins were fascinated by taking baths outside in the large galvanized washtub. All wanted to take their turn in the tub.


As a child Connie could not remember being poor; she did not realize how poor they were until she grew up and left home.  She only remembered one vacation trip, which was to Philadelphia to visit her Great Aunt Maria and Uncle Dawson Tupponce. 


Growing up in the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe community of King William, VA, Connie was surrounded by a close native community with strong connections to Indian View Baptist Church and Sharon Indian School.  Some of her fondest memories included Homecoming and Revival at Indian View each August; these always include an abundance of good food and lots of cooking.  The church Pastor and the visiting preacher for the week would have supper at the home of a church family member each night of the revival.  Every year, they would have supper at Connie’s home; this meant they worked all day cleaning the house and her mother fried chicken for supper.  And don’t forget, she had to kill, pluck, clean the chicken first before the frying!  To this day, Indian View Baptist Church still has its Homecoming the first Sunday in August and Revival the week following. 

Connie attended church every Sunday and was always involved in special church activities around Easter and Christmas such as Christmas programs and Easter Egg hunts.  Starting in the 1980’s, our tribe began having annual Pow Wows, which were fun. She does not remember any native functions prior to the Pow Wows when we reacquired Sharon Indian School back from the County.  UMIT ladies, including my mother, learned pottery, beading, and making regalia that was taught by several of the Pamunkey and Mattaponi ladies.  The tribe does have some cultural classes such as beading and some regalia and everyone enjoys the Pow Wows.  A majority of the youth today are more interested in the internet; it is a challenge to gain and keep the interest of youth in native culture.

Connie attended Sharon Indian School (UMIT local school) for first and second grade. As she entering third grade, she attended elementary school on the King William High School campus.  Prior to this she had only been around UMIT people and was very nervous going to school that first year.  While nervous about going to a ‘white school’ in third grade, soon began to make friends.  She did very well in school; her strong desire to learn was inspired by my mother.  Connie remembered one male classmate asked her once if her mother carried her in a papoose. She soon began to know where she was not welcome and stayed away from those people and places.  She was honored to be the Salutatorian at her high school graduation; the Valedictorian that year was an African American girl.  Prior to the year she graduated, a King William’s woman’s club in King William had always granted scholarships to the Valedictorian and the Salutatorian graduates; that year these scholarships were given to much lower grade ranking students. Remember, this was the 1970’s.


Some historical events that have impacted Connie and the tribal community are as follows:

1964:  Public schools opened to Native Americans.  After Sharon Indian School closed in 1965, the county used it for offices.

1983:  March 25, 1983:  Virginia State Recognition

1985:  The Upper Mattaponi Tribe petitioned King William County for the return of the Sharon Indian School building to UMIT.

1987:  King William County returned the Sharon Indian School to the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe.

2006:Virginia Indians were invited to Kent and Gravesend, England. Approximately 50 Virginia Indians, including my brother Chief Frank Adams, my son Lee Lovelace and my niece Morgan Faulkner were included in the trip. 

2007:  400 Year Centennial Virginia Indians participated in the 400 Year Commemoration in Jamestown and Virginia.  A large number of UMIT citizens welcomed Queen Elizabeth to the Virginia State Capitol, participated in a Pow Wow at the Hampton Roads coliseum, and participated in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.  Connie’s son, Lee Lovelace had a role in the festival.

2018: Upper Mattaponi (and other Virginia Indian Tribes) achieved Federal Recognition.

Al Tupponce’s Oral Tribal Story – Interview June 25, 2020

Interviewer: Lou Wratchford, UMIT Representative, VTEC Board Member

As part of VTEC’s training conducted by Academic Development Institute, VTEC board members were given a homework assignment to interview a tribal citizen to gather their Tribal Story.  I decided to interview two Upper Mattaponi Tribal citizens.  In addition to my homework interview assignment, I had the honor and privilege of interviewing Al Tupponce, an elderly Upper Mattaponi citizen on June 25, 2020.


Al and I spent three to four hours discussing his eighty-five-year native experience.  Gathering information from one of our citizens that left Virginia in 1940 as a small child and returning to Virginia in the late 1970’s approaching midlife, is very different from my experience, having lived in Virginia all my life. 


Al is the son of Maria and Dawson Tupponce and the grandson of grandson of Cleveland ‘Clip’ and Jane Adams.  His paternal grandparents, Christopher John Tupponce and Isabella Charlie Walker Tupponce, were citizens of the Mattaponi Tribe. Al’s mother, Maria Adams Tupponce grew up in the Upper Mattaponi Indian community; she was one of 9 children. Maria received a seventh-grade education at Sharon Indian School.  Al’s father, Dawson and his three siblings grew up on the Mattaponi Indian Reservation.  His father Christopher John Tupponce died in a logging accident when Dawson was in 4th grade and his brother, Luther was in 6th grade. This ended their education because both were withdrawn from school to help on the family farm.


Al has served on the Upper Mattaponi Tribes Council 2012 and is the cousin of the current Upper Mattaponi Chief, Frank Adams. In addition, he is also my ‘double’ cousin. His grandfather Cleveland "Clip" Adams and my grandfather (former Chief Jab Adams) were half-brothers and his grandmother, Jane Adams and my grandmother, Mollie Adams, were sisters.  Therefore, Al and I have a lot of the same relatives.


Al remembers following chiefs:  Jasper ‘Jab’ Adams, Edmond ‘Dootz’ Adams, Andrew Adams, William ‘Bill’ Adams, Linwood Custalow (all now deceased).  Recent chiefs he remembers are:  Raymond Adams, Edmond Adams, Ken Adams, and our current chief, Frank Adams. 

In the 1940’s many of the Upper Mattaponi, Mattaponi, and Pamunkey citizens moved from King William County, VA to Philadelphia, PA to better their job opportunities. Many of Al’s and my families travelled this route.  In 1940, at the age of 5, Al’s parents packed their belonging and moved with Al, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He does not remember much prior to his leaving.

The Indian community in Philadelphia was different from King William; however, in some ways they were similar. The Upper Mattaponi in King William was a rural community; Philadelphia was urban.  The Upper Mattaponi in King William were a tight knit community and most of their activities took place in their school and church. A large number of the Upper Mattaponi citizens had the last name of Adams and their community was often referred to Adamstown. Similar to this, the Philadelphia community in which Al grew up was also a close community, where the majority of Upper Mattaponi Indians lived in a 12-block area.  A large number of the Upper Mattaponi referred to their community as “Adamstown North”.  One thing was very different; the larger neighborhood Al lived in was multiracial; however, the majority was white.  They never encountered any racial issues in their neighborhood or at school.

Although there was no specific person as the tradition bearer in the community; the Indian community continued the close-knit environment they had known in King William. Everyone watched out for each other; on holidays everyone visited each other and had a joyful time together. All attended the same social events and they relied on each other. If one needed assistance, everyone pitched in.


Growing up Al’s recollection of coming to Virginia from Philadelphia are mostly good memories. He does remember the trips to King William, Virginia always started out with lots of excitement and expectation. Everything went well until they reached the southern part Maryland and into Virginia. As his family would enter this phase of the trips, things changed. Their parents knew they needed to be careful where they stopped for food or rest.  During the 1940’s, 1950’s, and into the 1960’s, this was because of the ‘Jim Crow’ laws that were still in effect.  When he moved back to Virginia in 1978, things had changed a lot. One summer Al’s parents decided he would spend three weeks on his Grandfather’s Clips farm.  According to Al, he had to work from sunup to sundown and this was the time he decided that when he grew up, he would never be a farmer or work on a farm.

Al has good memories of going to school in Philadelphia.  He attended multiracial elementary and high schools with Upper Mattaponi, Mattaponi, and Pamunkey children in the neighborhood in which they lived. All the other kids wanted the meet the ‘cool Indian kids.  He did not experience going to school in Philadelphia as his counterparts experienced in King William. He remembers walking home from school with other kids from the neighborhood and his mother (or the mother of the kids whose house it was that day) would give him a dollar to go the store to buy a pound of bologna; all the kids ate sandwiches most days. Al was a young boy during World War Two; he has few memories about the war. However, he does remember his mother using ration tickets.

Al shared a wonderful memory of the annual trips his family and other families from the Philadelphia Upper Mattaponi community made each year to share Indian View Baptist Church’s annual Homecoming on the first Sunday of August.  The Homecoming is an-all day event of ‘an old meeting and eating on the ground’ that is still held on the first Sunday of August each year. Most of the other Upper Mattaponi Indians in Al’s Philadelphia neighborhood would also travel to King William to attend the Homecoming and Revival Services.  It was an annual pilgrimage. 

Al and I spent some time reminiscing about how all of the Upper Mattaponi looked forward to this event every year.  The church sanctuary was/is rather small; during the afternoon services, the adults filled it to capacity. Since there was little room for the children, they played outside until the service was over. We both agreed these were very enjoyable times and we still look forward to our annual Homecoming. 

In addition to the Homecoming, during these annual treks, Al looked forward to visiting all the family members still living in King William. And in those days, Indian View Baptist Church, the UMIT home church, still holds its annual Homecoming on the first Sunday of August, with the nightly services reduced to three nights (rather than five nights).

Al’s younger brother, Reginald ‘Reggie’ Tupponce, Sr., was born in 1942 in Philadelphia; he moved to King William in 1976.  He had purchased a small restaurant and asked Al to come and manage the bakery. Al agreed and moved his family to King William, VA. A few years later Reggie sold the restaurant; Al stayed in Virginia and the bakery business as a Bakery Manager with the Virginia Department of Corrections until he retired. Al chuckled as he remembered Paul Dungee, a cousin who died 1999, age 91. He fought in three wars (World War Two, Vietnam, and Korea) and he also had three wives.  Al did not know if that was coincidental or not.

Al enjoys serving on the Upper Mattaponi Council and taking the lead on arranging cultural events for the children, such as dancing, beading, and regalia.  Two of Al’s son’s, Tommy and Alan, became very interested in Indian Culture. 

Tommy: Tommy is a participant of Upper Mattaponi’s Drum and Singing group. In 2006, he went with the group of Virginia Indians to England and shared some of our culture with the school children there. Recently he was elected Upper Mattaponi Tribe’s Assistant Chief.

Alan:  Alan somewhat took a different route; while in high school he attended Indian cultural classes in New Jersey during the summers. After high school, he went to college in Arizona, and met a young lady who later became his wife. After college, he attended medical school and is now a pediatrician at one of the Indian Health Services facilities in Arizona.


· Some historical events that have impacted Al and the tribal community are as follows:

1964:  Public schools opened to Native Americans.  After Sharon Indian School closed in 1965, the county used it for offices.

1983:  March 25, 1983:  Virginia State Recognition

1985:  The Upper Mattaponi Tribe petitioned King William County for the return of the Sharon Indian School building to UMIT.

1987:  King William County returned the Sharon Indian School to the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe. Our tribe held its first POW WOW in many years in 1987 on the Sharon Indian School grounds.

2006: Virginia Indians were invited to Kent and Gravesend, England. Approximately 50 Virginia Indians, including Al’s son, Tommy Tupponce and his cousin and current UMIT Chief Frank Adams.   During the trip, Tommy got to share some of our culture with school children and participated in drumming/singing.

2007:  400 Year Centennial Virginia Indians participated in the 400 Year Commemoration in Jamestown and Virginia.  A large number of UMIT citizens welcomed Queen Elizabeth to the Virginia State Capitol, participated at the 400th Celebration at Jamestown, participated in a Pow Wow at the Hampton Roads coliseum, and participated in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. Al’s son, Tommy, had the opportunity to have participated in several of the events;  he drummed at the arrival of Queen Elizabeth at Virginia Capitol, the Jamestown Celebration, the Hampton Roads Pow Wow, and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.  In addition, had a role in the Journey of Destiny play.

2016 – 2018:  Al’s son Tommy and four Pamunkey tribal citizens participated in the British TV Series, “Jamestown’, a drama loosely based on historical fact. 

2018: Upper Mattaponi (and other Virginia Indian Tribes) achieved Federal Recognition.

James “Petey” Franklin Adams Tribal Story

Presented by his granddaughter, Ashley McDonnell, on May 22, 2021 at his funeral service Indian View Baptist Church, King William, VA.


Introduction by Lou Wratchford


James “Petey’ Franklin Adams, was born on October 24, 1925 and died on May 14, 2021.  Petey was the son of Johnny Adams (2/13/1892 – 10/18/1962) and Sarah Ellen Adams (1895 – 1965). Petey was married to Dorothy C. Adams (11/9/1922 – 7/18/94).  He was the grandson of W. C. Adams.  Petey was the brother of Benjamin Adams, Gladys Adams, Nancy Ellen Adams, Prophet Adams, Josephine Adams, Glenwood Adams, Pocahontas Adams, Hester Adams, Roland Adams, and Thomas Adams.  During his childhood, growing up in King William, VA, Petey attended Sharon Indian School and Indian View Baptist Church. At the time of his death, he was 95 years old and the oldest living citizen of the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe. He lived a long and productive life and was laid to rest in Indian View Baptist Church Cemetery along side many of his relatives. Petey completed his circle of life beginning in King William, VA and ending in King William, VA with Indian View Baptist Church having a significant role in each. Petey will be missed by the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe.


Ashley McDonnell, Petey’s granddaughter was privileged to give the eulogy at his funeral. Below are the words of Ashley as she said goodbye to her beloved grandfather.


Saying goodbye to my grandpa, James “Pete” Franklin Adams, has always been one of the hardest things in my life to do. When I was six years old, back in the mid-1990s, grandpa moved from Philadelphia to Virginia, built a house on a property that had been in his family for decades, and lived out the rest of his days. For the first few years, I would spend months at a time during the summer visiting him here, and I always, always cried when my parents came to pick me up and take me back to Philadelphia. I wanted to stay and go fishing some more and keep (“helping”) out in the field. Watching storms roll in and the sun come out over his house were something resembling magic. To me, his 95 years of life are of mythical proportion. Ninety five years, and he was only hospitalized four times. He lasted into his 80s without having any major medical scares. Otherwise, he was fit as a fiddle, and he got to live his last 24 years of life in the house that he’d built with his brothers and sons and friends. If only we could all be so blessed with such miraculously good health. I’m not quite sure what magic potion he drank to maintain his good looks well into his 90s, especially given his humble beginnings. He was one of 12 siblings. They were raised primarily in a two bedroom house with an outhouse. As a member of the Upper Mattaponi Tribe, he faced discrimination for being Native American. He wasn’t allowed to attend public school back in the 1920s and 30s because of his race. He only ever achieved a sixth grade education before he started working on his uncle’s farm and then joined the Navy during World War II.


From there, his life seemed like a series of awesome adventures that we all only got to hear brief snippets about. Like seeing the Philippines while he served in the Navy, or catching sharks while fishing in the ocean. Or running back and forth between the hustle and bustle of Philadelphia and rural Virginia, visiting family and reconnecting with loved ones. Or driving along all the highways of the East Coast as a truck driver and lovingly relaying all the sights and sounds of the various cities and towns he’d passed through.

In a way, it’s weird for me to be giving his eulogy, because I only lived through the last third of his life — the retired years — where his adventures and thrills were much more understated. One of my earliest concrete memories with him is of us flying a kite along the Delaware River. Another, watching him pick strawberries in his backyard garden on Fuller Street. His garden in Philadelphia was nothing short of phenomenal. I was maybe like, three years old, and I still think those are probably the best strawberries I’ve ever eaten. My mom says his fruits and vegetables provided food for half the block.

I often wondered why he’d abandoned me and such great, assured harvests to build a house in the middle of nowhere in Virginia. But it’s okay. I came to enjoy evenings shelling peas on his deck and becoming a particularly awful fisherman.


But what really stands out in my memories and in all the stories I’ve heard from everyone is how much of a provider he was for other people who weren’t as fortunate as him physically or economically. He took care of his son, Jimmy, who had Downs Syndrome, for over 50 years, even though doctors back in the 1960s had told my grandfather that Jimmy wouldn’t live very long, and would be better off going to an institution. My grandma, Dorothy, had Huntington’s disease, a rare disease that deteriorates the mind and the body. And my grandfather took care of her, largely at home, even as her health declined for years and years. Nearly a decade he took care of her while she suffered some of the worst symptoms of Huntington’s disease, confined to a bed in their bedroom.

A lot of my young, vague remembrances in his house on Fuller Street involve him caring for my grandma while he was also taking care of Jimmy and babysitting me, comforting me from my small child woes of scraped knees and ear infections.


He took care of his siblings, too, in their times of need. His youngest brother, Thomas, had lung cancer and needed help getting to appointments and things in the early years after my grandfather had built his house in Virginia. So grandpa took Thomas in and made sure Thomas got to his appointments. Grandpa made sure his brother could live his final days comfortably.


And you didn’t have to be blood related to my grandpa for him to lend a hand, either. One time, three ladies were lost around the tribal grounds and said they just needed a place to stay for the night, now that it’d gotten so late. So grandpa said they could come on over and stay with him and Jimmy for the night. When they said they were hungry, he went out and got a pizza for all of them to share. That’s who he was, at his core. A helper, a provider. He would always be there in your time of need.


He gave us all so much, all while still making his own dreams come true. He’d moved to Philadelphia when he was younger both to be closer to some of his siblings who had already moved there and for better job prospects. But he always said he would move back to Virginia and build his own house. And he started building that when he was already 70 years old, with his own two hands and the help of his friends and family (including me! I would roll cinder blocks around! This time I really was helping!). And then he lived in that house for over 20 years, longer than most people keep any one mortgage. It’s almost like he lived three lifetimes in the span of one.


I won’t lie, many people would describe him as, mmm, stubborn (to put it kindly). It was his way or nothing. But his stubbornness really ensured he accomplished everything he wanted, whether that was building his dream house or making sure he visited his loved ones. He would build that house where he wanted, and no developer could outbid him for the land. He would come visit you, especially in your hours of need, no matter how many miles lay between you and him.


Grandpa outlived all of his siblings, and so it feels like we’re burying him with so many stories lost and secrets left untold. Like: Why does everyone call him Pete? No one I’ve talked to knows, not even his kids. My dad would ask him, and grandpa would just laugh in response. His first name is James! His middle name is Franklin! Where does Pete come in?! This is the biggest mystery of all! (If you know the answer, please tell us!)


One of the hardest parts — for me, at least — is being so loved and cared for by such a stoic, prideful provider is the constant fear of never doing enough for them. Did grandpa have even half as much fun with me as I had with him? Did I provide him with story-worthy adventures like those he would recount from his younger years?


I felt a weird sort of pride, knowing that the first (and only) time he’d been on an airplane was to come to my college graduation in Rhode Island. I flew back with him from Providence to Richmond and watched him be completely unfazed by going 300 miles per hour through the sky, by all the security rigmarole you have to go through to get on a plane. But in retelling the story to me or others, he would always reiterate that it’d been his first plane ride. I felt like I had given him an adventure.


In my heart, I know this is an absolutely foolish pondering. Of course he had as much fun with us as we had with him. Grandpa was such a good provider because he wanted to spend more time with all of us. He wanted to make stories with us. He took care of us all so we could stay with him as long as possible. And we’re all so blessed that he stayed with us for as long as he did. He was 95 years young, with a big, booming voice and a deep respect for life itself. Thank you all so much for being there for him throughout his many years. Goodbye, grandpa.

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