My Papa - Eugene R Aarrestad “Butch”
Hello to all, thank you for taking some time to read this tribute in honor of my Grandfather. My name is Joshua, his grandson, and I will be telling you a little bit about what he’s accomplished in his life. He was born in Los Angeles, California on February 27, 1946. He went through school as any growing child would and at the age of 17 and a half he did the greatest thing that I think anyone could ever do, he joined the Marine Corps in June of 1964. My Papa served and fought in the Vietnam War. He didn’t talk much about that part of his life but I respected him so much just for that. I know and understand what war can do to someone. He came home from the war and ended his time in the military. Shortly after he met the love his life, Janet Lechner, cupid struck these two with an arrow. They drove to Las Vegas three times and got married on the third time, April 27th 1969. They hit the ground running and started this amazing life together. They had three kids, Lisa, Sheri and Butch Aarrestad.
His life in California didn’t seem to be the life he wanted for his wife and kids so for Janet’s birthday he gave her a check to move to the bitterroot valley in Montana. My Papa wasn’t afraid of hard times or doing things the hard way. He built his house where his family would grow and love with his own two hands. All five of them dug the foundation to the house with shovels on April 9th 1980 and they moved in to a barely finished but livable home in July of 1980. Over the years he would come up with new projects to expand or improve their house.
He raised his kids to be well mannered and respectful, he was a real drill instructor when it came to his kids. He taught each one of them the essentials to life in the best way he knew how. He wanted his girls to not be afraid of hard work or getting their hands dirty. So he made his girls do the same chores as he would make his son do. He made them camp in the woods, hike in the mountains with him but as the girls got older they became more and more girly no matter what my papa did. He told me this story where my mom, Lisa, wanted to bring a bag of make up and a curling iron up in the mountains when he would take them in the back country. He asked her if she’s planning on plugging the curling iron into a tree. My uncle though followed in his fathers foot steps and grew to like everything that my grandfather liked and became more hooked on wanting to learn more and more things from his father. My Papa loved all of his kids very much.
Through the years my Papa has done so many of the things he loved. He loved to hunt, fish and overall work on cars. He would always take his boy with him and as his son got older everything seemed to develop into a competition between them. Who would get the bigger elk? Who would get the biggest fish? Or who would even get the most fish. I remember we were all pike fishing and the whole time my Papa caught the biggest pike and he had a big smile on his face as if he knew he won. My uncle wasn’t to happy about it so he started trolling as we were on our way to the dock to leave and sure enough he caught two of them both bigger than my papa’s. The smile went from being on my papa’s face to being on my uncle’s face. I love that memory cause the look on both their faces showed how serious that competition really was. He also loved to fix things up, in fact he loved it so much that my aunt Sheri broke her foot a couple years back and my grandparents came to visit her. He saw she had to move around on a scooter. He didn’t think the scooter was much her style. So while visiting he took it from her and customized it in the coolest way, new wheels, shinny jewels on the side, handle bar tassels. This scooter was the coolest scooter on the block. He loved working on an engine as well. He was always working on his cars when he wasn’t hunting or fishing. He knew if something was wrong with an engine just by the sound of it when it drives down the road. I would work on cars with him, he would stand off to the side and without even looking at what bolt we needed to take out next he would tell me what size socket I would need to get from the tool box throughout the course of the job. It was like he had the car manual memorized in his head. He had a tool for whatever the job was in that garage.
Over the years, as my Papa got older I believe his drill instructor ways faded. The man who once may have intimidated us, showed us his sweet and funny ways. My Papa knew how to make everyone laugh whether it was a funny story or if he was playing an innocent joke on you. You almost never knew when he was being serious or not. It warmed my heart to hear the whole time in the hospital he made the nurses laugh and grow a liking to him. I couldn’t help but think “That’s my Papa”.
My Papa was an amazing man. I grew up looking up to him as if he was my very own father. All of his kids and grandkids have their very own story about how in some way my Papa has inspired them or taught them how to do something. We all miss him so much already. We all love him so dearly and know he is in a better place. He leaves behind a wife, three kids, nine grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. Papa, I want to end this by thanking you for all the sacrifices you’ve made for us in your lifetime and showing us all how to do something we didn’t already know how to do. All of us could always go to you for answers when we didn’t know something. I love you so much and i’ll always hold my memories that I have with you close to my heart. As you said in your last Will and Testament in the military. “Let my death not be in vein”. I want to let you know “Your death was not in vein”.
Eugene R Aarrestad
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