The Dash 1912-2006

The Dash, we all have one.  What will yours say about the life you lived, the things you did and how you spoke and treated others?  My Grandfather Cobb, most knew him as Bill, Mr. Cobb but his full name was William.  How did he live his dash?  Well, he was born and raised in Jefferson, Iowa.  There are many stories my Grandfather would tell over and over again, I’m sure you have a relative who tells them.  He had ones about going to the World’s Fair in Chicago or hitch hiking home from Simpson College one Christmas to Jefferson, Iowa.  He shares how a many gave him a ride home and told him if he didn’t smoke or drink he would give him “X” amount of dollars.  My Grandfather NEVER EVER touched either!  He married my Grandmother Helen during an insurance convention in Omaha, NE.  They were married for over 50 perhaps even 60 years.


They made their home in Jefferson, Iowa at 505 W. State Street.  They had three sons, Chuck, Jay and John.  Grandfather sold Life Insurance and believed that everyone should have it!  He had his office on the front porch and when we would visit you were NOT allowed into Grandpa’s office.  When he died, I was amazed at what was found, awards, index cards with his clients information and birthdays.  He was intentional on sending birthday cards to his clients.  Grandpa attend the United Methodist Church every Sunday and would play Cribbage on Friday nights.  He enjoyed fishing with his buddies.  Growing up I remember there was the “good” car that Grandma drove and then the “fishing” car that was Grandpa’s.  I am grateful he instilled a love of fishing in my brother who is now passing this down to my boys and daughter!  I did not catch the fishing bug!

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Grandpa always had something outside in a bucket to show us!  And we always had a fish fry with fresh caught blue gill.  

Grandpa LOVED riding his bike all over town and would get up early to pick up cans!  In Iowa you get a nickel for every can!  He bought a brand new custom made bike with that can money!  He had baskets on the back of his bike and this was before fancy kid carriers, he would put a pillow in the middle and my brother would hold on to Grandpa and they would go for a ride, one leg in each basket.



Another thing our Grandpa loved to do was to garden!  His whole entire backyard was a garden.  He grew his own raspberries and our Grandma would lovingly make raspberry jam every year!  It wasn’t until Grandpa passed away that I realized how much she HATED making that jam!  One memory I have was that the rabbits would get into his garden, I’d never seen Grandpa move so fast to get out there with a shovel and go after those rabbits!

Grandpa also loved to go and pick up walnuts!  He had a messy production out on the front porch of cracking walnuts and getting the meat out of them!  He would give away the meat for others to bake with.

Grandpa loved to take us kids up town to buy us shoes at the shoe store.  His dad was a shoe sales man and Grandpa was always concerned with making sure we had the right fitting shoes on.  Grandpa was also always VERY cold!  It didn’t matter what time of year it was but he would have on 3 or 4 jackets!  I’ll never forget a time he was in the hospital and called a store in Ames, IA, which was about 45 minutes away, and asked them to bring a sweater.  He was a character all right and my dad called the store back to make sure they did NOT bring him a sweater!


Grandpa would get up every morning and start his day off with exercise, his vitamins and reading the bible at the kitchen table.  He did not eat much meat other than fish and always ate healthy!  He enjoyed going to Wendy’s because they had baked potatoes and he would end his day by rubbing my Grandmother’s feet.  He loved well but was a stubborn man.




We almost always had family pictures taken on my Grandparents front porch!  For a long time my brother John was the only Grandson!  


The height difference is quite comical.  This was after my brother’s high school graduation and Grandpa was so excited to be taken John on a fishing trip to Spencer, Iowa!


Three Generations of Cobb Men


4 generations!  Grandpa was so excited when Lily was born and couldn’t wait to have a 4 generation picture taken!




As you can see any time there was a piano Grandpa was playing it!  The first time we came to visit Iowa in 2001, Grandpa walked up town and found a place in Grinnell to play the piano.  When Timmy was in the hospital he wanted to play the piano at Methodist but it was locked.  He couldn’t believe that someone would lock a piano.  Later we found out that we could have asked for a key.  Any time Grandpa was close to piano shop he had to stop and usually bought a piano book.  He played by ear quite well and could read music.  He was gifted in the art of playing!  As a child he bought me a piano and taught me the importance of music.  Now my daughter is the one learning.  Grandpa played music for nursing homes all over the state of Iowa but mostly in the central part.  Grandma would drive him most of the time and the funny thing was that most of the time he was OLDER than the people he was playing for!  My favorite song to have him play was “Ally Cat” and “Little Brown Church In the Vail”.  He always would play “Happy Birthday” for you too!  

The last time we saw him was at Chuck E Cheese in Des Moines.  It was on a Saturday and my ex-mother-in-law captured this photo and I am grateful she did.


My dad called me on a Sunday and said Grandpas has decided to stop taking all of his medicine and I’m not going to argue with him.  I thought okay, it’s a matter of time.  On a Friday we got the call that Grandpa had passed away peacefully.  He had gotten up to adjust the thermostat and was found by the piano.  He lived a good life.  My Grandpa Cobb is who William is named after.

How will your life be remembered in the dash?  Will it be remembered as one who chased after God, loved others well or will it be remembered as one that was selfish, negative, and lived life in the rat race forgetting to stop and create memories with those that are most important in your life?

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