My Grandpa, My Michigan Hero

A man that has worked so hard to help so many and now at 89 is still accomplishing so much is my idea of a real hero. He is more than family. He is someone I personally look up to and find inspiring. That man is Donald Aldric Anderson. He is my very special Michigan hero.

In 1938, during the Great Depression, when my grandpa was only 13, his father died leaving behind a family of six children. They barely had enough to eat. Having lost the hero of his life, my grandpa decided he would try to take his father’s place as the provider of his family. After school, he would run down to Main Street to punch a timecard in a butcher shop. What he earned was not enough, so he decided to quit school and work full time. At a young age, my grandpa was not selfish.

For the next 10 years, my grandpa continued to support his mother by working all kinds of jobs. He tamed wild horses on farms for $1/day plus board, while buying cows, butchering them and peddling the beef around town. Besides helping his mother pay bills, he planted gardens and raised chickens and rabbits, just like his father had done.

Finally when he turned 19, he was offered a better paying job on the ore docks. His wages “soared” to almost $32 per week. Because this was a night job, he was able to find work during the day at a lumberyard. This job paid $18 per week. With the extra money, he was able to remodel the family home.

He also added a garage so he could begin fixing cars as a side job. My grandpa was passionate about making sure his family survived the Great Depression and always had enough to eat.

My grandpa’s hard work led to success. While working on one farm, he met the girl he would marry. Together they built one of the largest construction companies in their town. It provided jobs for a lot of men.

One of his favorite projects involved helping handicapped people construct a building in which they could make furniture. They called it the Lake State Industry. Its expansion had led to more jobs for the handicapped. My Michigan hero enabled many others to be successful, also.

To this day, there is a steady flow of men who stop by my grandpa’s shop to borrow a tool, or ask a question, or just spend time with him. I feel proud when I hear them talk about him with so much respect and admiration. In my eyes, what really makes him a hero is that he gives all the credit for his successes to God, not himself.

As I think of how much my grandpa has inspired and motivated me, I hope I can seize opportunities to do the same for someone else. I’ll be thinking of my grandpa and working toward that goal in his honor.