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Our Father

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1: It all began October 17, 1931 | This is our story of Ron Eerkes; beloved father, husband, and grandfather. | Dear Dad, In honor of your 80th birthday, we wanted to reminisce a bit about our special memories of our lives with you. We love you, dear old Dad. Laurie, Debbie, Jeanne, Tracy, Kevin, and Sarah 2011 | December 1996

2: 1955-Erk, Margaret, Herman, Gertie, John (Ronnie's father), and Marie (front)-missing are Nick (deceased) and Alice (Seattle) | Aunts, Uncles, your father's side of the family

3: Ronald Eerkes | John Eerkes | Agnes Faber | Reinder Eerkes | Geertje Boerhave | Harm Eerkes | Gepke Jonker | Jan Boerhave | Margaretha Hagen | Ulbe Faber | Berber Stavenga | Justus Faber | Geertje Faber | Mink Stavinga | Grietje de Vlas

4: Barbara and young Ronnie | Sister Marjean, brother Hermy, and young Ronnie | Young Ronnie with Hermy and friends | ...with Mickey at your home in Oak Harbor | Ronnie in front yard of home in Oak Harbor

5: Ronnie in first grade: Oak Harbor-1939

6: ...with Lindy | You with your dad, Uncle Herman, and Lindy-1947

7: 1944 | And you grew older,ready to set the world on fire...

8: but then you met Betty Farrington...

9: and you were married... January 14, 1955

10: Our beloved Uncle Herman | Mother-in-law Alice Farrington | Parents: John and Agnes Eerkes

11: Ron-age 36 | Herm-age 32 | Marjean-age 40 | Christmas 1967 | Christmas 1967 | June 1976

12: And your family grew... | 1959

13: and grew... | and grew...

14: 1970 | December 13, 1965

15: and then they grew up.

16: FARM CHRISTMASES PAST Most Christmases I recall were on the farm and almost "Currier and Ives" environment upon looking back. A big family, a large farmhouse, many, many gifts piled up around the tree which was real, not artificial. This on a working dairy farm with cattle, horses, calves and even a goat, all visible just outside the windows. A fire in the fireplace [real] and a true Yule Log inside burning and radiating heat. Holly trees outside the windows as well as the massive willow tree in front and tall poplars along the driveway. In the living room was an upright piano with seven to play Christmas music on it. Season music on tapes wafted through the downstairs. The large, farm type kitchen had a long expandable table that could seat eight, ten, even twelve. The view out the kitchen windows included open fields, an orchard, the calves just below the road and Tracy's goat Nibbles peering out from his small shed. On a snowy day this vista was beyond Christmas card beautiful, and always the workings of the farm. A row of boots in the back porch, the row of old coats and coveralls behind the sliding panels and the smells of the barn. Too, the Darigold milk tanker slowly passing beneath the windows on the west side. In the living room Bruce or an earlier dog sleeping on the warmth of the fireplace fire, often with one of us next to him. There were always cats around the house, "housecats" as differentiated from "barncats" who were never on good terms. Cats like Brutes, Squacker, Tisturd and many others.

17: The excitement of opening gifts, always an equal number per child, raised much anticipation and great patience. This could take as long as two hours with the fireplace ablaze with gift wrappings. Then the enjoyment of new toys, games and books. For hours the home was quiet and children absorbed in their new possessions. And always, there were the farm chores to perform, even on Christmas Day. Cows to be milked, calves to be fed, horses to be fed, a goat looking for his flake of hay and feed, all in a days work. All these memories from more than twenty years past. written by Ron Eerkes

18: Thanksgiving 1976 | June 2003

19: You continue to leave a bevy of memories... | and here are some of our favorites...(so far)...Read on-

20: One of my fondest memories of time spent with Dad is riding on the fender of the tractor during grass or corn harvesting. The time together was peaceful; the machinery scooping and spewing vegetation mesmerized me. Laurie

21: A rare quiet moment during the family camping event at Lake Pearrygin.

22: "A father's love warms the heart of his children forever." | The kids were often wrestling and laughing with Dad on the living room floor, so sure we were going to beat him up. He would laugh and laugh at the silliness, until we finally realized we were never gonna win that game! Laurie

23: A wonderful day for Dad, Mom, Gary and me!

24: Dad is quite the story-teller. His Toastmasters experience gives him even more capacity to enthrall his audiences!

25: Dad likes to try new gadgets just like any other guy. He's very interested in our new camera, as you can see! Laurie

26: First hug to a newly married daughter. Dad and Mom managed to marry off all the daughters.

27: "Cherish your yesterdays, dream about tomorrow but live for today" | We weren't always good kids. For some reason, we had to go to bed really early. Dad would try to catch Debbie and me not going to sleep, but we could hear the stairs creak. Debbie and I practiced fake snoring "Honshu!". Laurie

28: Dad and Mom support Laurie at one of her gigs.

29: I was a pretty good kid, unlike some of the others ;-}. However, I wasn't always perfectly obedient. I remember once when Dad was reminding me of farm chores that I had not completed. I was irritated and didn't want to do them, so I yelled "I'm not doing them!" as I ran out the door to do the chores. That was apparently the extent of my rebelliousness. Our family was into psychology, so I did ponder the contradiction of my actions and words. Laurie

30: We cleaned up pretty good for the Dairy Princess Banquet

31: Dad built wonderful forts for us in the haymow. He made a complex web of tunnels and underground rooms. We'd invite "city" friends to the haymow and hide from them, making noises to tease them. We had haymow sleep-overs, rope swings and imaginative adventures. Laurie | Families are like fudge... mostly sweet with a few nuts.

32: See the resemblance? No wonder she fell for him!

33: My handsome husband Gary gives Dad a little sprucing up at our wedding.

34: One of Dad's favorite memories of me is probably when I bought him dinner for the first time. I took him to a nice place on the water and did it right. He didn't really believe I was paying until the very end. He was sure the waitress thought that he was up to no good with me until she learned I was his daughter. Laurie

35: Another prestigious family award, the Ronnie award, won by its namesake during the annual family camp-out.

36: Dad, I remember the times we spent with just the two of us, a special treat with such a big family, sharing a meal, talking, or just riding on the tractor. I admire how you have changed and redefined yourself over the years, continuing to grow as a person.. I've seen your sense of humor and self-assurance develop. You and Mom devoted yourselves to self-improvement and being better parents, teaching us to think about the psychological influences in our lives and relationships. Even though we didn't all turn out perfect, we learned how to keep searching for the way.

37: Thanks for building the hay forts, the plywood ping-pong table that was painted with stars because it used to be my science project, and all the thousands of things that we've forgotten that you did "behind the scenes" of our lives - things we took for granted while growing up. Thanks for being supportive when I was in various bands as an adult, and tolerating that woman fondling your chest at Brewsky's in West Seattle. Luckily Mom was there to deflect her. I really love you a lot., Laurie

38: Our Dad and his fires! I remember Dad making fires at home in the farmhouse, our fires behind the garage for the 4th of July and of course, the infamous Pearrygin fires! And here he is passing on the fire gene! With love Debbie

39: Ass | I rem | Dad in his Sunday best! But mostly I remember barn boots, plaid shirts, coveralls and work gloves. It was a shift in thinking that his daughters could milk the cows. But I really wanted to do it, so I remember getting up early for the morning milking so Dad could teach me. But soon he realized the value of having in-house talent! I think the cows liked it too! Debbie

40: I remember when Barney was killed. I was very upset and crawled into a box to hide. Dad crawled into the box to comfort me. I also remember Dad being so loving and supportive when Tomie died. But then there was that horse trailer. Well, it worked, but what an eyesore! Thanks Dad! Love, Deb

42: I remember Dad taking up running. Sometimes he would just decide to run and out he would go, in his jeans and I think even at times in his dress shoes or barn boots!! One of his favorite events was the Tulip Run, which Tracy and I often ran as well. Now it is the Tesoro run, but is the running/walking or all the great prizes? Debbie

43: Dad loves a Party!

44: When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses. -Joyce Brothers

45: D | So many memories over the years: Dad as the avid Cougar fan, visiting me at Reno, and my wedding to John.. and being a grandpa to Amanda

46: "A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty."

48: Who would have thought driving the lawn mower would have been so fun! | "The family is one of nature's masterpieces." -George Santayana

49: I remember Dad fixing things - twine, duct tape and baling wire - what more do you need? It usually wasn't pretty but functional! Debbie

51: "I'm so lucky as can be, the world's greatest Dad belongs to me." | So many memories of the Ronnies! This is one of the most special things about our family! Thanks Dad!! Debbie

54: Here I am with Dianne Smith on my 9th birthday (1968). Once you tried to kiss her good night like me, but she wiped it off screeching 'Yuck I've got dog germs!' and that earned her the permanent nickname of 'Dog Germs' from you. You were so good about making her feel part of our crazy family! ~Jeanne | UGH! I've been kissed by a dog! I've got DOG GERMS! Get hot water! Get some disinfectant! Get some iodine!

55: HELP! | Let's not forget the TORTURE of one small, innocent stuffed dog-Jeanne :( | Stuffed in small scary places | Left outside in the cold Brrr... or hanging by a noose or some other torture device | ...with Benjamin, the cat

56: I enjoyed popcorn and milkshake nights, and also fondly remember eating burgers from the Jet while watching Star Trek. Can someone explain to me why we never had seating for 8 people in the 'TV room'? I often had to squeeze into one of the little rocking chairs, and still remember the day I stood up and that stupid little chair came with me. I remember you liked Star Trek, too, Dad. It was special when you would watch with us. | Growing up on the farm...It probably comes as no surprise that I have many fond memories of our various animals. Dad, I know you liked at least a few of our dogs, and perhaps Squacker in the house, Do you remember that you had a special fondness for the Doberman named Farrah (she had a lot of teeth and a big smile) | Some memories are special, even if they were painful at the time-like snakebites, kisses when you had a day's worth of bristly whiskers, hair being pulled out while we were playing horsey, and probably the most meaningful was when a boyfriend broke up with me-Mom said you threw your hat on the ground when she told you, and you came in and sat with me, trying to encourage me, and laid your hand on me oh so gently. I don't know if I ever told you how much that meant to me- Thank you, Dad. Jeanne | Some memories were special and they didn't even hurt! YourFourth of July campfires complete with fireworks and shakes from Uncle Herman, you sorting and distributing CHristmas gifts, how you spent so much time teaching us baseball-we all got quite good-might have been the left handed pitching, summer vacations, spending time with you while you did your chores on the farm, your patience in teaching us to drive, and those warm, comforting, crackling fires you made in the fireplace. I loved reading in front of that fire! I remember hearing Conway Twitty, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, and Dolly Parton. We enjoyed laughing together at Bill Cosby's 'To Russell...' album.

57: Nibbles | Bruce | Fluffy | Mini-Brute | Squacker | Tizz | Tracy with Simon & Rascal

58: Dad, being raised on a dairy farm holds many warm memories for me. I know it caused you angst at times, so I thank you for persevering in light of this. I hope you look at each of us, and feel proud of what you contributed to our lives. Jeanne | I loved the wide open spaces, fields to run in, forts to build, apples to pick in the orchard...just needed to be sure to avoid the silage area (phew) | Christmas 1979

59: Remember how excited the cows got when you let them out for the first time in the spring? | Remember how the cows would turn their heads all in the same direction when they were in those lock-ups? Was it you who tried to tell me they were showing their neck chains with numbers? Not sure why I believed that one... | ...the warm milk-manure smell in the milking parlor...(just seeing those barn walls in the background still gives me the creeps) | ...unfortunately we will never be able to forget the rope, the laboring cow, and the gate...

60: Thank you for being so involved in the lives of your grandchildren. They have grown up feeling the security of being part of a greater family, and have had a grandpa who they can rely on and respect. | You have taught them to laugh at themselves.

61: But most of all, they know you love them, and will be behind them no matter what. You have given them a foundation on which to stand as they wade life's waters. It means so much to me. Jeanne | no comment...

62: needs paint...any ideas? | You have taught us so much about just having fun, and not being concerned with what others think...the Ronnie has actually become a coveted award, because of you! ~Jeanne | who taught this guy to button?

63: You are comfortable being yourself in a variety of situations! That's (almost) always a good thing! ~Jeanne | YIKES! | 60th birthday | Feb. 2002 | 80th birthday | Ewww...

64: October 1980-visiting me at WSU and tempting my cat Sonya with a little of your birthday cake :( | WSU Dad's Weekend 1978 | Do you know that you walked really fast when on the farm? As a young girl, I had to develop a run-walk-run pattern to keep up with you and those long legs of yours. I didn't realize I was doing it until I got to college and someone asked me about it-Jeanne | just say no....

65: I often brag to people about how you supported so many of us kids as we went through college. Having children of my own that have continued with post high school education makes me realize just how hard you must have worked to help us be successful, and how much you sacrificed. I'm sorry I took so much of what you did for us for granted. Just know that I am so grateful for your support and understand you sacrificed so much of yourself for us, because you love us. I love you too, Dad. -Jeanne

66: Dad, I'm proud of your commitment to your marriage. I'm proud that it is hard for you to sit still when you see something that someone needs help with. I'm proud of how you accept people with a non-judgmental eye. I'm proud of how often you gave the underdog a chance to feel worthwhile. I'm proud that you are a Toastmaster guru. I am proud that you are my dad! Jeanne | Dad | Father | Grandfather | Husband | Teacher | Patriarch | Friend | Father-in-law | Dear old dad | Speaker | Giver | Provider | Comedian | Lefty | Intellectual | Writer | Helper | Farmer | Carpenter | Respected | Frugal | Accepting | Faithful | Loyal | Son | Son-in-law | Nephew | Encourager

67: Just a few more things before I sign off: You were a gentle, patient teacher long before you started in the school district.. But I don't think I saw that until I saw the respect and love you earned from your students and fellow teachers. I've seen students get excited to see you..."Mr. Eerkes!" You gave so much of yourself to whichever task they set before you. | Your family includes these son-in-laws who think of you as a father, and who I know you love in return. Thank you for opening your heart to them. The fun they have together and with you is because you have made them feel comfortable and at home with our family.

68: We had a lot of good times with Nibbles! Parades, trips to the beach, hiking, 4th of July, his house that you built, pink peppermints, show and tell at school... | Dad, I have fond memories of playing basketball in the haymow with you, baseball in the horse pasture, driving the hay truck, riding on the tractor, tunnels in the hay, pinchbug, snakebite, roughhousing, and tucking us in at night! .......... Tracy

69: Dad's weekend at WSU | The rental | Dad skiing? | Dad was a pro at this by the time I got married!

70: Greatest Grandpa !

72: Disneyland | San Diego

73: Love the Farmer's tan ! | celebrating Dad's birthday | Seth, Jimmy, & Dad | Skagit County Fair

74: Dad shares such a loving relationship with his grandchildren. He is always quick to offer words of praise, support & encouragement. | Thank you Dad for always being there with a smile and a helping hand. You truly enrich all of our lives.

75: Always the supportive Grandpa | Looking Good


79: Dad, Thank you for always being there and supporting us. Thank you for your great sense of humor and your willingness to always help. Thank you for never being judgmental or critical. Thank you for teaching us hard work and good morals. Thank you for your never ending patience, calmness, and kindness you show to everyone. Thank you for all the "experiences" you shared with us. Christmas caroling in the back of the hay truck, Stephanie and Edwina, airplane trips to Portland, driving through the slums in Seattle, small plane rides, water skiing, and family vacations. You always tried to expand our life experiences so we would continue to grow and learn. Thanks for being a great father, father-in-law, and grandfather! I love you. Tracy

80: Dad enjoyed an occasional game of ping-pong, in the basement and at Osoyoos. He was known for his lefty delivery and the wicked spin on the ball. | We all have fond memories of Lake Osoyoos. Was the place dad taught us to water-ski. We bonded as a family

81: Also in Seattle was the Tropics Motel, where we went as a family annually. Dad would toss us in the pool and throw stuff into the deep end and let us dive for it ...Kevin | Dad made time for father-son things....... like wrestling on the dining room floor, playing catch in the hallway for hours on end and taking trips to Seattle for Sonics games

82: I spent a lot of time with dad while growing up on the farm. The most satisfying times for him were when the barn was full of hay, silo full of silage, cows fed and tank full of milk. This was the time to ask for for favors, like a bigger minibike | Dad worked long hard days, which started with milking cows at 5 am and ended with pushing the hay up at 8 pm. I often would hear him get up at 5 and admire how he could get so early, brave the elements and do such an unpleasant job. In hindsight, it was his love of his kids

83: One of dad's trademarks is his frugalness. This was one of the reasons he was successful as a farmer; he was resourceful enough to keep the old farm equipment going rather than buying new. His frugalness is a trait all of us kids inherited, for better or for worse | Dad taught me about hard work by setting an example. I worked diligently and earned enough money to buy a car by age 16. I was shocked dad encouraged and actually helped me purchase a muscle car like that, but I guess he wanted me to learn by being given responsibility....Kevin

84: Dad taught us all how to ski, a painstaking process, especially with a boat that was often breaking down. We all started on a homemade 'surfboard' and then graduated to skis. When Dad was in his prime, he actually looked like the pic on the right! Too bad we don't have any pics of him on his lime green ski

85: When the kids weren't around, Dad would try to watch one of favorite shows like Lawrence Welk, All in the Family or Hee Haw.....Kevin

86: Dad has a soft spot in his heart for animals.....as long as they aren't cows

87: Put Dad in front of a fire and he relaxes and becomes contemplative, and sometimes falls asleep. This was a time to play jokes on him. Kevin

88: TOASTMASTERS Ironically, Dad decided to take up public speaking later in life. This skill paid off nicely when he delivered a heartfelt toast at my wedding

89: Sporting his new suit at my wedding (with lovely wife on his arm) | All smiles at the dinner the night before my wedding ...Kevin

90: Dad lent me a helping hand on my wedding day despite not having extensive experience with bow ties | Dad giving his approval on my selection of a bride ......Kevin

92: Tyler enjoys playing with "Grandpa Ron"..... with Grandpa sometimes even having more fun than Tyler | Tyler sometimes annoys Grandpa when showing him his love

93: Three generations of Eerkes men Ronald John Kevin John Tyler John The Eerkes name continues.... Kevin | I discovered the demands and responsibility of a kid after having a son of my own. Can't imagine how difficult 6 kids must have been!

94: Dancing with Dad at Kevin's wedding. Very special to me! | One of Dad's favorite hobbies is chopping and cutting wood. There isn't a tree, log or woodpile around that is safe from his ax or chainsaw. Sarah | "Got Firewood" tee-shirt | The striking Eerkes women

95: It was always beautiful when it snowed on the farm but it meant extra work for Dad. | Dad enjoys joking with and poking fun at his son-in-laws. They in turn enjoy using their own sense of humor to get back at Dad . They have a unique relationship.

96: Dad, I still smile when I think about you driving round and round my driveway in the snow towing Jimmy and Jana on the sled. They ended up wiping out half of my favorite Rhododendron bush. | It wasn't my fault!!!! | It's amazing how fast time goes. I grew up being taught to be hard-working, self-sufficient, and "close to the vest". Love Sarah

97: I remember driving the hay truck in the field with Dad and the hay crew. I would ride on top of the load of hay on the way home.. The haymow would gradually fill up with hay. The bales seemed so heavy back then. Love Sarah | It always felt good to be with you in the milking parlor. The familiar smells, the music from the radio, the sound of grain dropping in the feeders, and of course the bright yellow bibs.. | Moving irrigation was never fun. There was always a leak somewhere and our clothes got rusty and wet. However, I enjoyed the time spent together with just the two of us.

98: Horses | Horses are such an important part of my life. I have always been thankful Dad supported this passion throughout my childhood. Thanks Dad. I Love You, Sarah | 1973 Good n' Sassy | 1979 Copper | Cherie | 1972 Sassy

99: 1981 Copper | 1997 Sandy | 1980 Copper | 1986 Ace | So many memories - various horse trailers, vet visits, chasing loose horses, competitions, riding all day with friends, annual trips to the Skagit County Fair, horse baths in the milking parlor, etc. | Memories | 2002 Ginger | 2011 Ginger

100: Our family TV nights were always a favorite for me. I remember watching the Lawrence Welk show every week. There was a musician on the show that looked so much like you. Sarah | I smile when I think about when Sassy fell on me and broke my leg. You didn't realize that it was broken and tried to pull off my boot.. When I think back to that day, I realize how hard it must have been for you to have to return to the responsibilities of the farm instead of taking me to the hospital. | A familiar sight

101: I think back to the trips we took together to Little Mountain. You always calmed and soothed me. We'd sit together at the top of the mountain for what seemed like hours. | My car/train accident was a very traumatic time for me and I know it was also frightening for you. During the entire ordeal, you remained calm and cool even though I knew you were terrified inside. You had to be and were our rock. | We have a lot of fun together during our camping trips to Nason Creek. Especially during our Happy Hours!! It's a special time the four of us will always cherish | Thanks

102: Dad, I love it that you're always ready to have a good laugh. Even if the joke was on you. Look at that smile!!! | DAD

103: Your youngest daughter gets married. August 5th, 1989 | O | You would play "horsey" with me in the living room. I loved cantering around the room and would scream when you bucked. Thinking back, you were probably relieved when we got Sassy. Dad, I love you! Sarah


105: A Family Rivalry | Breakfast on the Line | The annual Apple Cup parties are filled with yelling, cheering, laughing, teasing and eating. A wonderful day together! We all have a great time no matter which team wins. Your enthusiasm is contagious. You are the biggest Cougar fan. | Touchdown Cougs!!

106: OCTOBER 2011 We hope you enjoyed your birthday celebration as much as we did. Obviously, we chose the wood theme because of your obsession with firewood. (One of the many quirky things we love about you.) | There once was a man named Ronnie, who was jealous 'cuz his sons-in-law were so brawny, off he went, each day to Truck City, to look for other farmers to show him some pity, instead he came up with a different thought, to show those boys his muscles weren't naught, off to the forest, in search of big wood, to gather, to chop, as hard as he could. His muscles, they grew, his shirt got tighter! Even his chest hair seemed to get brighter! So now, the sons-in-law are in awe of the Ronnie, a great man he is, we all love him fondly! ~ Jim wrote for Ron's 80th birthday

110: Our Family | Six children, at an average of 50 years old each, means a combined 300 years of memories represented here! | Non-verbal dadisms | 'The eye' was perfected to include several variations, all of which carried a separate warning! | The extra protein will be good for you (typical response to the bug in the food) | Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite | of OUR dad | Shake it off. | You need to live 'close to the vest' | Don't make me pull this car over. | When I was your age... | Barn walls need cleaning | a checkmark on the penalty chart | What did your Mother say? | the eye!

111: We are blessed that you are our father, and we hope you know how much you are loved by each of us. Eighty years old! And so vibrant and active. We look forward to building future memories with you, and have no doubt they will be as memorable as those from the past.

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Laurie Gary
  • By: Laurie G.
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