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My paternal grandfather, Y.C. Nance (1916-1966)

The first time I saw my grandfather, I couldn’t have been more than four or five years old. He was an eternal forty-something– quiet, composed and stately. I had seen him a few times before in passing, not knowing who the man who lived in the picture frame really was.

“That’s your grandfather,” my parents explained to me. “Daddy’s dad.”

My grandfather would have been 95 today. He died in 1966 at the age of 50.

I remember rambling through drawers at my grandparents’ house, which they moved into in the 1950s. I stumbled across quite a few pictures of my grandfather and one thing stood out to me– he was almost always photographed doing something to improve the world around him. For me, these pictures were so much more than just pictures. They helped shape the identity of a man I had never known.

Through words and pictures I came to know my grandfather as college graduate, war veteran, Boy Scout troop master, youth sports organizer and Little League coach, teacher, farming expert, PTA president, hard-working son, idolized big brother, loving husband and devoted father.

My grandfather spent 50 well-lived years on this earth. But the imprint my he left on his family and community is so pronounced, you could almost say that Y.C. Nance is still here. That’s a 50-year legacy– with 50-plus more to grow on.