Apr 7, 2007
Grandpa’s Service to Industry Provides Foot in the Door

This summer, the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station (NWMHRS) turned 25. Started in the late ’70s as the dream of a group of Traverse City area growers and industry members, the research station has played a vital role in the ag research of Michigan State University – and universities around the country.

I was lucky enough to attend the celebration dinner in August with my grandparents and parents. This dinner featured a host of speakers and recognition speeches. And one of those speeches was in honor of my grandfather, Keith Warren. You see, Grandpa Warren has been involved in the research station from the very beginning – he served on the board for 25 years. But this year marks his last year of service on the board. In honor of all he’s done to help the research station, Grandpa was presented with an award.

It was such an honor to be in the audience as my grandpa received recognition for all he’s done. I am proud to be the granddaughter of such a well-known and respected member of the agricultural industries of Michigan.

But it isn’t just his service with NWMHRS that makes me proud. And it isn’t just this once. I can’t even remember all the times I’ve heard kind words about my grandpa over the last year and a half. When strangers walk up to me at trade shows and industry events and say, “You must be Keith’s granddaughter,” I just smile and say, “Yep,” knowing full well that a good story is to follow. And sure enough, I hear wonderful stories about how Grandpa was involved in this person’s life. Many times, the stories give me background I never knew about this man I know only as Grandpa. Who knew that outside of family events and sweaty work on the farm there was this other man? Grandpa, I suppose, is my proverbial foot in the door.

As great as they are, all those years of service to the industry pale in comparison to the years he’s spent in service to his family. He is the one who instilled in his sons and daughters the true meaning of hard work. He is the one who showed us all that a full day’s work doesn’t start at 9 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. He is the one who taught me the most important lesson I’ve ever learned, “Kimi, you have to learn to separate the hay from the horse pucky.”

As children, all of us have those people we look up to, who set examples for us. And, if we’re lucky, as adults we continue to have people to model our lives after. For me, more than one of those people has remained constant. And one is Grandpa Warren.

In my memory, Grandpa was almost untouchable, yet always there when you needed him. Nothing seemed to phase him. Today I know he isn’t that stoic, god-like figure that I remember. He’s a caring, sensitive and involved man. He’s a man I admire for his strength and boldness. And, boy, is he funny. Now that I’m on my way to being a grown-up, I enjoy this new side of Grandpa that I get to see – but I’ll always cherish my memories.

Grandpa, thank you for all the strength and courage you’ve given us all over the years. Because of you and what you’ve given our family, I am where I am, and I am who I am. I couldn’t have done it without you, “Old Man.”

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