My grandfather

My maternal grandfather, Fred Staunton Greybill, Jr, was born in Charleston, West Virginia, in 1921. He was the oldest of nine children born to Fred Staunton and Helen Gertrude (Hicks) Greybill.  He graduated High School in Charleston, and attended the University of West Virginia. In 1943 he enlisted in the US Marine Corps and served in the Asiatic Pacific Area and China during World War II.  He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in San Diego, California, where he lived with his buddy Phillip Sawin, and Phil’s wife Nellie.

Phil was sent back east, as he was still enlisted in the Marines, and everyone was told that Fred was Nellie’s cousin, as it was inappropriate for a single man to be living with a married woman. Fred and Nellie packed up her two kids (Steve and Phyllis) and drove to the east coast to visit Phil. On the trip, Nellie rolled the car, sending them all flying. They managed to find Steve, who had been thrown clear of the wreckage and was uninjured. The searched frantically for Phyllis, who was only a few months old at the time. They found her, in the makeshift car seat in the backseat of the car, completely oblivious to what had just happened and perfectly fine. On the seat next to her was an old clothes iron that had been on the floor. It’s a miracle she was not hit and killed by it.

At some point along the way, Fred and Nellie fell in love. She obtained a divorce from Phil Sawin, and in 1949 my grandparents were married in Reno, Nevada. They lived in the San Diego area, where my mother and two more uncles were born, then moved to Junction City, Oregon, and finally on to Portland in 1964.

My grandfather, whom I called Papa, and I shared a very close relationship. I was the first of six grandchildren, and am the only girl. He took me everywhere with him when I was a child. The story goes that, when I was born, the floor above the maternity ward was for mental patients. My grandfather stood guard over me the entire time I was in the hospital because he was afraid one of the “crazies” was going to come steal me.

In 2007, Papa passed away from a stroke at the age of 85. He is buried in Willamette National Cemetery, about ten minutes from my house.

Published in: on August 30, 2010 at 5:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

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