Happy  80th Birthday Dad! Tatjana and I thought we would share a few memories and how much you mean to us to commemorate a very special milestone.

Dad in his office at Younkers back in the day

Dad in his office at Younkers back in the day

I’m so happy that I got the opportunity to learn more about business and to work so closely with you this year. It’s a side of my father I’ve always admired from afar, but never got to share with you until now, and it has meant the world to me.

Growing up

Growing up

I can’t say I have many memories of my own from when you were a child, since I wasn’t around then, but from the cheeky grin on your face, I’m pretty sure you were quite the imp. I seem to recall a story Grandma Ellie told me about a few unkind words you said when grandma told you that you had to take a blind date to a wedding. Little did you know that “blind pig” you were about to meet would be the love or your life, and you’d both still be inseparable sixty-four years later!

The blind date that has spanned six decades so far

The blind date that has spanned six decades so far

Then I joined the party, and oh yeah – that “little playmate” you promised me? Boy, did I feel gipped! Not only was she  incapable of playing checkers, she spit up all over me the minute you put  her in my arms, announcing I had a sister. Then you really frustrated me when you asked me what you thought we should name her, and I said “Patty Duke.” I couldn’t figure out why you and mom just called her Patty, and not my entire suggestion?

Daughter #1 (formerly known as pumpkin)

Daughter #1 (formerly known as pumpkin)

It wasn’t just your family who benefitted from your benevolence through the years – I was so proud of all the things you did in our community. It was fun too! How many kids in Des Moines could claim a member of the British royal family sat on their family room floor playing with her sister’s hamster, or get to hang out with Halston, or flirt with tennis pros?

Successful Business Man & Community Leader

Which brings me to our first family trip to England, and one of the most romantic moments of my life at Wimbledon. I was furious when you wouldn’t let me go on that date to Annabel’s, so I tortured you with  “Ian, Ian, Ian” pining for the Australian tennis player the rest of the trip. Maybe if you had said yes, you wouldn’t have ended up with a son-in-law who wore makeup? But then, you never would have gotten the apple of your eye, your granddaughter. I had to laugh when your would come to London to visit us, and barely say hi to me on your way to her crib!

My sister Patty a.k.a. "peanut"

My sister Patty a.k.a. “peanut”

Hi Grandpa (Tatjana here), I think the photo below pretty much sums up how I feel about you, but maybe I don’t tell you often enough just how much I love you, and appreciate how you have always been there for me from the beginning. Okay, maybe I was a little bit too young to remember that day exactly, but I do have faint memories of you lifting me high in the air, sending me soaring back and forth. You are my daring Grandpa who always encouraged (sometimes a little more than I’d ideally like) to try new things – like fishing. You put me off it completely once you told me that I had to handle putting the worms on the hook and take the fish off once it was caught – ewww don’t you know girls don’t like slimy things! Maybe that’s why I’m an anti-pescatarian to this day.

The adoring grandchildren

The adoring grandchildren

But you always did spoil me too. I loved spending time in the summer at the Lake house going out on the speed boat and tubing, jet skiing, riding the tandem bike to PM park, playing pool at the Town Pump, and all the fun birthday parties. The trip to Washington D.C. with you and Grandma was probably the most special memory I have, because it I got  to have both of you all to myself, while learning so much about my American heritage. I think you enjoyed it too, because you seemed to have twice as much energy as me – packing in every site, museum, theater, and meal imaginable in three days, then put me on the train to New York, the first trip I’ve ever taken on my own.

Happy birthday Dad, and many more to come

Happy birthday Dad, and many more to come

Dad, there are so many more happy memories I could add, but I would be writing until your 90th birthday to record them all . Thank you for being the best dad and grandfather any girls could hope for. I love you. Many, many happy, healthy returns of the day! Love, Julie xo

The round the traveling birthday celebration

Your 80th birthday trip

PS. This has been such a fun birthday – so where are we going for your 85th?

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