GUTTENBERG, Iowa – Greg Hefel wished little greater than to see his household pursue their desires.
Cash meant little to him, however he got down to assist them and educate his kids to dwell actually.
Doing the correct factor might encompass paying a invoice on time, donating cash to a veteran charity, or serving to a neighbor pack hay, mentioned his daughter, Malinda Kramer.
“I believe that is possibly what he felt, like that was the one factor he had management of or that he might let go of that was good,” he mentioned.
Greg, of Guttenberg, died April 27 at age 74 of problems from an undiagnosed coronary heart situation, Malinda mentioned.
A powerful man, he confirmed no indicators of sickness. He toured a subject on the day of his demise, a testomony to his boundless vitality.
Greg was born on April 16, 1947. He and his youthful brother, Clarence “Nick” Hefel, grew up in North Buena Vista inside a two-story white farmhouse that had an open porch that circled the entrance.
The kids spent lengthy summers on the household farm, the place their dad and mom made ends meet elevating cattle and pigs and rising corn, oats and hay.
After graduating from highschool in 1965, Greg grew to become a locomotive engineer, a profession that continued for almost 50 years. He traveled a route that stretched from Kansas Metropolis, Missouri, to Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Greg married Jane Weyant in 1971. The household thought-about her a “Mary Kay woman” who saved up appearances and a tidy home in Guttenberg. She gave start to their solely daughter, Malinda, in 1978.
On the helm of a prepare, Greg explored components of the countryside that few folks will see.
When Greg was on obligation, he must abandon his actions at any time to get to his start line in two hours. He might be out for 2 days, mentioned Malinda, now 42. Then his father would come residence and lower firewood or mow the garden.
The time aside was in all probability tough for her dad and mom, Malinda mentioned, particularly when Greg could not be current for birthdays or Christmas celebrations. However each marriage has its ups and downs, he mentioned.
“They persevered,” Malinda mentioned. “He made up time that was misplaced.”
The household typically traveled westward, often to Breckenridge or Estes Park, Colorado.
“We’re mountain folks, not seashore folks,” Malinda mentioned.
In 2004, Jane was identified at age 55 with an early-onset sort of dementia, which severely restricted her skill to speak and look after herself.
Jane was too younger to qualify for Medicare, so Greg labored on the railroad for one more 10 years to retain his medical insurance for his medical wants.
Jane died in 2014. That they had deliberate to spend their retirement touring collectively, unfettered by the tempo of the rail trade.
“It simply did not work out that method,” Malinda mentioned.
She returned residence to assist look after her mom, bringing her husband, Keith Kramer, along with her. In Guttenberg, they raised their son, Gregor, who was named after his grandfather.
Grandson and grandfather shared numerous meals, and Greg watched the boy style his first beer soda.
Retirement suited Greg, however he additionally preferred to maintain busy on the farm of his neighbor Steve Anderegg, who knew Greg from highschool. Greg lower hay, made silage, and repaired fences.
“He was a fix-it man,” Steve mentioned, remembering the load of keys Greg saved in his utility car. “He might determine it out.”
Greg was at all times studying, at all times studying. There have been few items of equipment that he could not repair and few buildings that he could not construct.
Greg approached the duties calmly.
“He mentioned he at all times had two speeds,” Steve mentioned. “Sluggish and slower.”
Greg adopted a morning routine from which he derived satisfaction. First was the feeding of their cats. Then she ate half a grapefruit, which Malinda was supposed to purchase at Sam’s Membership. Greg positioned the second half in a container for the subsequent day. Within the absence of recent fruit, Greg drank a glass of grapefruit juice.
He learn the morning information on his cellphone or pill, smoking his pipe. Espresso was a should too, not less than one pot full.
Within the evenings Greg, a passionate Democrat, preferred nothing greater than speaking politics with Nick. He known as his brother they usually spent hours delirious.
“We by no means completed something,” Nick mentioned with a smile.
Greg thought-about his pets like his different kids, particularly a Russian blue named Theisen. Malinda found the cat outdoors the retail retailer of the identical identify.
“They shared ice cream cones,” Malinda mentioned. “(Greg) let him lick his glass of milk.”
Malinda recalled that when she was in second grade, her neighbor shot her blue heel, Jocko, within the head with a pistol. She speculated that the canine was in all probability chasing one of many neighbor’s cows.
Greg administered CPR on Jocko till the canine might be taken to emergency surgical procedure, which turned out to be successful.
Malinda mentioned her father believed that animals have been simply pretty much as good, and even higher, than folks.
“It is a type of unconditional love,” he mentioned. “They don’t have something to say. They simply wish to be with you. It’s a comfort. “
Greg, likewise, was a person of few phrases. He simply wished to see his household glad.
“And we have been,” Malinda mentioned. “However he was most of it.”