Oh man, you guys. As many of you know, we lost my sweet grandpa last week. He was 78 years old and died from ALS…a disease he was diagnosed with just earlier last month. My heart aches every minute of every day, but as cliche as it sounds, we are finding comfort knowing he truly is in a better place.
I am so blessed to say I grew up extremely close to both of my grandparents. They lived right down the road, and it was rare to not spend a Saturday over at grandma and grandpa’s house. Even when I moved away from St. Louis, we stayed close through visits and phone chats.
There are so many memories I have of him, ones that I’ll never forget.
After he passed away on Thursday, I went home to St. Louis on Friday morning even though Kevin couldn’t come to STL until Sunday because of work. I know I probably could have waited to leave on Sunday, but I was so homesick and just wanted to be with family. We spent Friday night at grandma’s house going through old pictures.
We drank Budweiser, grandpa’s favorite indulgence. Even when he was in the hospital and wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything (he wasn’t able to swallow because of his ALS), he said that he just wished he could have an ice cold Bud, and a DQ Blizzard.
We also wrote a nice obituary together as a family to share with loved ones. Here it is, if you’d like to read:
On the hottest day of the entire year, David Paul Bladdick was born on September 19, 1936. He grew up with one brother Tom, two sisters, Ruth Ann and Mary Jane, and numerous cousins. He attended St. Joseph’s Catholic Church for grade school and graduated from Granite City High School in 1954.
David played American Legion Baseball and was scouted by the Chicago White Sox to play Minor League Baseball. Instead, he entered the volunteer Army draft for the GI bill. There he served from 1955-1957 as Company Clerk and was deployed to Korea.
Once he was discharged from the Army, he was introduced to Marilyn Jean Bladdick, his beloved wife. Marilyn’s father worked night shift with David and brought David home to meet Marilyn on September 7, 1957 – which happened to be Marilyn’s birthday.
Four months later, they were engaged on December 21, 1957 while he was away at college at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale.
David and Marilyn were married on August 16, 1958 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Granite City.
David transferred to Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville and they had their first child together – Pamela Jean Bladdick – on June 12, 1959.
A year and a half later, David graduated from SIUE in December of 1960 with a degree in Marketing.
A few years later, David and Marilyn’s second child, Jeffrey Paul Bladdick, was born on March 6, 1963.
Even more, from 1976-1977, they sponsored an exchange student from Frankfurt, Germany. A lifelong bond was formed with Ulrich Gerlach, and David and Marilyn frequently told people they had three children – one just happened to be German.
Now, we all know that David is a huge Rams fan, but did you know that he got NFL season tickets the first year the NFL came to St. Louis? In 1960, David went to the first St. Louis Cardinals game at Sportsman’s Park…and they’ve been season ticket holders ever since. The Rams even promised David via Twitter a great 2015 season in his honor!
While football was his first love, he was also a die-hard baseball fan. That is, until 1963, when his St. Louis Cardinals didn’t bring home the World Series. From that day on, he swore off rooting for them…until his very last day!
Besides football, David’s passion was his grandchildren. Gabriele Lynn was born on Super Bowl Sunday – January 22, 1989 and Brendan Paul was born on July 6, 1994. Ulrich and his wife, Gaby, gave David and Marilyn their “German grandson,” Felix in 1995. Gabriele married Kevin on October 19, 2013. David was especially excited to welcome Kevin, a Cincinnatian, into the family, so he’d have another avid sports fan and person to root against the Cardinals with.
David started his career as a soap salesman for Proctor & Gamble and spent the majority of his professional life at McDonnell Douglas. One of his major projects there was the Harrier AV-8B STOL. Doing that, he was able to travel the world and see places Israel, The Holy Land and Europe. He finished his career with Crane National Vendors, and he retired in 2000.
Married for 56 years, together with their family, David and Marilyn saw hundreds of football and hockey games and traveled to countless countries and cities. His family, the Rams, Dairy Queen Blizzards and an ice cold Budweiser were just a few of his favorite things.
He was diagnosed with ALS earlier this month, having had it for years without any of us knowing. David put up a tough fight, but went home to the Lord on April 23. We’d all like to think, he “Came a long way baby.”
(May is ALS Awareness Month. Although Kevin and I participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge a few months ago, we had no idea what ALS really was. Learn more here.)