Friday, November 15, 2013

John Edgar Wren, Junior
February 10, 1924 to November 15, 1979

When pop was only 8 years old his dad died. In just about the last conversation we ever had, I asked pop why he never talked about his dad. "I resented him dying so young. My life would have been a lot better if he'd fought it a little harder." Pop's last words to mother: "Don't worry honey, we'll whip this."

Pop told me once he didn't want to give me his middle name Edgar because that would have made me a Junior, and his nickname growing up was Junior and he hated it. I imagine it stirred that resentment.

He and mom met at Amarillo High School. At one of their reunions dad answered the question "What is your proudest accomplishment" with the fact that he started a successful business, which mom didn't like.

He and mother moved to Colordo in 1949, I was 2 years old, my earliest memory was him calling me to the front yard there in Loveland to go to the warehouse with him. I worked for him full time my last two years in college, and we sold the business the summer of 1969, his friends who didn't see the fact that chain stores had changed distribution economics didn't make out nearly so well. That summer he changed his will to make me the executor and trustee of his estate if mother ever wasn't able to do it when he passed on. We had no idea he'd be gone only 10 short years later.

I grew up working each summer for dad, yard work and warehouse work. Driving to the warehouse was like going to a business training seminar. "Every morning you have to give yourself a pep talk." "Stay busy, there is always something to do." "Don't ever make jokes about money, employees never find them funny." "The price you sell for is based on what people are willing to pay, not what it cost you." "You can't sell from an empty wagon, always have plenty of inventory." "People don't care about how much you know until they know how much you care." "You wouldn't worry about what people think of you if you knew how little they did it." "The best is just barely good enough." "Whatever you do, be in business for yourself, even if it's just to have a pop corn stand." "Every home should have a Montgomery Wards catalog, when kids look through it they learn how to dream." "Every thing you see once started as someone's idea." "The definition of a living wage depends on whether you are getting it or paying it." "The profit in the wholesale business depends on how well you handle the merchandise that doesn't sell. (Bin-X)"

Dad fought cancer for several years. He was mistreated for prostate cancer, caused it unnecessarily to spread. The son of the doctor who treated him came to a meeting I'd organized one time and told me how grateful his family was we hadn't sued. Never entered my mind. Not much did those days, I was filled with grief, youngest daughter Allie was born 10 days after pop died, the pastor at our church who had been so helpful to me moved out of town, and a therapist I'd been seeing did the same thing. What I saw as the solution to my problems turned out to be the biggest of my problems.

Decades later I went to mother's 50th high school reunion with her. I was astonished at how popular she was, she'd been a cheer leader, home coming queen, voted most popular, was awarded a full scholarship to Colorado Women's College, then instead married dad when he was discharged from the Navy. At the reunion I finally understood why it made her so made that pop had thought of his business as his proudest accomplishment. How he ever got her to marry him, charismatic, hardworking, bright, but without owning a car, not even having a job, surely getting her to say yes was the most important sale he ever made. Mother took care of their home, me and my brothers, there is just no way he could have been as successful as he was without her help.

We miss you pop, but none of us who were with you those final years can ever say you didn't fight it as hard as you could. Thank you for all you did for all of us in your short life.

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