Below is the speech I wrote for my late grandfather’s funeral on 11/2/2012. He passed on 10/30/2012. It was given by myself and my two cousins, Ashley and Casey Kuck.
Good morning. On behalf of all the grandchildren, we’d like to thank you for celebrating Poppy’s life with us. In a few short words, he was witty, friendly, and quick to compliment. Always with a smile on his face, Poppy brought joy to all who had the privilege to engage with him.
In 1935, Poppy was born to German immigrant parents in Manhattan, New York. He spoke only German until grade school where he learned his New York style English. His high school years were spent in a military boarding school in Bordentown, New Jersey. Shortly after graduating high school Poppy joined the US Army and served in Germany during the Korean War. He was an expert marksman and even had the chance to carry the bazooka.
After the Army, Poppy worked in New York City’s China Town at a bank. He ate Chinese food every day for two years and for some reason never wanted to eat it again. In 1960 Poppy married my grandmother, Dorothy, or as we know her as, Nanny. They met at a wedding in April where Poppy was a groomsman of a groom he barely knew and Nanny was the maid of honor. They married October 1 of the same year. They recently celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary.
They say the 60s were a great time, but especially for our grandfather. He and Nanny welcomed 3 children into the world: Charlie, the eldest was born in 1962; Susan, the second eldest was born in 1964; and Jimmy, the youngest was born in 1967.
During this time, he owned an ice cream parlor with his cousin Herman. The parlor couldn’t house both their families so one day they flipped a coin to see who kept it. He lost. Poppy moved his family to Northburgen, New Jersey and opened a diner/candy story. Here he joined the Free Masons in 1962. He would have been with the group 50 years come December. He was also very active in Republican politics throughout the 60s and 70s.
In 1973, he sold the diner/candy store to become a manager at a local beer garten, Schutzenpark. Poppy was a devilish pool player and he taught his children to play pool in that beer garten. He wasn’t fond of the Northburgen area so the family moved again to upstate New York, to a town called Barryville. He opened a candy store, Barryville House of Candy, in the living room of their house – only furthering his sweet tooth – and also ran a meat route selling Thuman’s meat to local delis and butchers.
In 1979, the Kuck family joined the LDS Church. Poppy sent his two sons on missions and his two eldest children to BYU. In his later years, Poppy would wait at home on Sundays while his grandchildren were at church and have hamburgers ready for them when they came by for the regular Sunday lunch.
In 1977, Poppy sold his meat route and purchased a restaurant/gas station/candy store in Eldred, New York, 5 miles from their home – Ye Olde Coffee Shoppe. Here his children were taught how to serve others in the form of a waitress, a gas station attendant and a fry cook. They remember and apply these lessons every day as they raise their own children.
Poppy and Nanny moved to Florida in 1982 where he worked for Hughes Plumbing Supplies. Afterwards, Poppy worked for Raymond James as a file clerk. In March of 1990, Poppy had his first of 5 attacks at his
youngest son’s wedding in Atlanta, GA. He had Nanny drive him back to Florida because he thought it was just gallstones. Did I mention he was stubborn?
In 1998, he and Nanny moved to Georgia. He had retired but that only lasted 3 months and decided to drive a school bus. He drove a school bus for Fulton County for 10+ years. He had the opportunity to drive kids from the neighborhood he lived in. They affectionately called him Mr. Herman.
When he retired from driving his bus, he found a new passion: the internet. Poppy loved the internet. He made it his quest to meet as many Herman Kucks as he could find. What always impressed me was his ability to make and maintain friendships. He would go out of his way to stay in contact with people, even those he met online – leading a great example for all of us. He spent a great deal hiking the Appalachian Trail and traveling in the RV with grandkids.
Poppy committed to everything he did. He loved reading, especially westerns with a hero cowboy. He made a goal of reading 1 book a week for a year, and he did it. For multiple years. He even has the spreadsheet to prove it. He would write comments about the books he read on the inside front cover. ‘Great read’. ‘Lots of killing’. ‘Too much loving’. He walked religiously and made many friends along the way – even our new family friend Bill.
During the late 80s and on, I believe were Poppy’s happiest times, but maybe I’m biased. Nanny and Poppy become grandparents. 11 times. He taught each grandchild many important life lessons. How to eat scrambled eggs: with ketchup. How to answer the phone properly: ‘Yellow, Herm here!’ And how to watch ESPN with the volume on 98. He was quick to compliment and to support. He went to more grandchild related events than should be legally allowed.
He is famous for his dry humor. When speaking with friends and family, one thing everyone points out is how funny he was. Poppy had the ability to make anyone chuckle with a quick joke and a sly smile.
My favorite saying of Poppy’s is ‘When you got it, you got it.’ And boy, did Poppy have it. He lived a rich life full of love and happiness. He changed countless lives and impacted every single one he touched. We will miss you Poppy but we will cherish our memories and look forward to meeting him again.